Ultimate Guide to Brand Marketing

© Shutterstock.com | Leszek Glasner

In this article, you will learn 1) what is brand marketing, 2) how branding and marketing are connected, 3) about the purpose of brand marketing, 4) the benefits of brand marketing, and 5) ways to use brand marketing for your business.

WHAT IS BRAND MARKETING

A brand name enables customers to (not) trust the quality of each service or product that a business is offering in the marketplace. The mention of a brand name (or view of a brand logo) recalls a customer’s perceptions and experiences, either positive or negative.

Branding concepts extend way beyond the marketing of designer clothing or anything else. The brand represents an identity in the market — what they do, who they are, what standard of quality is provided, trustworthiness, reputation, etc. Therefore, brand marketing is vital to almost all businesses, from breakfast foods, to new technologies.

The objectives of Brand Marketing and the recognition of a brand are:

  • Instantly conjuring up a message.
  • The enhancement of credibility.
  • Prompting of an emotional response.
  • Motivating a customer to buy and interact.
  • Augmentation of customer loyalty.

Even if an enterprise sells a generic product, a non-brand alternative, then this product still carries that producer’s name, and reputation. If one dislikes the generic alternative then a customer will think again before purchasing another “generic” product from that producer.

Awareness of a company’s brand saves customers energy and time in investigating that company, making it simpler to decide about buying that enterprise’s services or product.

‘Brand Marketing’ is as fully concerned about product quality as it is regarding communication. Second rate product quality affects the perception a customer for a brand much more than good quality can. Attention to quality must prevail upon all aspects of a company’s relationship with their customers, including on their social-media activity and company website. Internet brand marketing cannot be tacked on as an afterthought, with minimal investment; any deficiency there will also negatively impact a company’s reputation, and along with it all its services and products.

Companies strive to improve customer awareness of their reputation when developing a brand campaign. This means communicating what the company is, and how well it does it, and providing a means to trigger that information instantly to a customer’s mind. Instant recognition may be communicated via a logo appearing on company material so that it is ubiquitous – people then associate that logo and its reputation with all products and services the company offers.

Earned attention is more valued than ever and expertise in how an entity earns the public’s attention is at the forefront of Brand Marketing. In this era anyone can communicate anything, brands need create and sustain an authentic, entertaining and transparent story in their relationship with a smart, networked public.

A brand might have high customer awareness, but perhaps the message does not communicate to the customers’ key priorities, or it’s not reinforced by customer experience, or the product could be flawed.

As a side note, feel free to read through this inspiring slides on how to create a great brand.

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An evolving brand strategy is finally tested at the three points of interaction with customers. The first stage involves defining the brand’s meaning:

  • How the brand must inhabit the customers minds.
  • Manage the broadcast of the brand signals.
  • Amplify the signals and battle the distortion.
  • The message, was it received? Manage closely the customer response and reception.

How a brand comes to inhabit the minds of the customers.

Brand experience influences consumer behavior, this must be focused upon for negative feedback in the digital world is shared so rapidly and broadly, that it can be highly damaging.

70% of consumers trust their friends’ brand recommendations, yet just 10% trust advertising. Brand experience then, determines the power of consumer influence, highly important when considering that the most powerful ad medium is by word of mouth. Brand experience accounts for 50 to 80 percent in any given product category.

Brand experience is inherently social, being built upon ideas that people want to spend time with, and that people want to share. Research has illustrated that a positive brand experience has three times more potential to spark a conversations than adverts. Further, over 50% of the conversations triggered by brand experience spark a purchase.

Brand experience generates ‘pull’ that brings people into a brand through others’ advocacy. The digital era has greatly amplified this and accelerated its experiential reach and together they are perfectly suited.

BRANDING AND MARKETING

A brand is the notion a customer has about a product, business, or service. That is based on his or her accumulated experience. This experience is a mixture of tangible and intangible concepts, images, words and a feeling.

Therefore, if the role of Branding and Marketing is to create this Brand essence. Why do it? Because, if the target for a brand does not have a clear line of sight to business goals, then one is likely to be making poor decisions about the brand.

Ultimately, a brand exists to create action, action that is likely to sell products and/or services. If a brand does not stimulate action, then it simply will not exist very long. Brands need to cause effect, and that has to be something focused, meaningful, memorable and sufficiently valuable to cause emotion and, subsequently action.

The important points to owning a phrase in the minds of potential customers so that they believe you can credibly deliver, are:

  • Top of mind. A brand needs to aim for exclusive ownership of a customer’s mind space
  • Emotions. The brand needs to inculcate a feeling; not just a word, a jingle, an idea or phrase.
  • Emotion to action. The feeling is the law of causation, it should compel an action.

When thimking of being top of mind with customers, this presentation covers how to create a memorable brand.

 

As I said, it is important that brands ingest emotions into customers that make them act. A great book about how to do that you can read now.

 

What’s the difference between marketing and branding? Branding, as we have seen above, is the culture itself. The message that is empirical and permeates all the parameters of an enterprise.

Marketing is the menu of tools and expertise that promotes a business, which in the digital age is a multi-platform endeavor – perhaps summed up by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.

Whatever one’s definition, marketing remains a crucial element of any brand – essentially being what one does to deliver a message and a guarantee to customers.

The brand is how one maintains that guarantee with delivery and satisfaction to customers and colleagues.

Branding and marketing are clearly not the same. They go hand in hand.

Branding is the core of a marketing strategy. In order to build an effective brand, you need authenticity and clarity at each step of the process, allowing your target market to identify with your brand personality and values successfully.

Branding is not a one off exercise that one does at the start of establishing a business. It is clearly an ongoing endeavor which permeates the processes, the culture, and one’s progress as a business; it necessitates loyalty and dedication that reflects upon a business. Ultimately, the actual measure of a branding and marketing success is in creating loyal customers who become brand ambassadors as well.

What is branding

Branding is vital to any sized business, retail or B2B. Effective strategies offer a major edge in ever competitive scenarios. A brand is a promise to a customer and derived from who you are, who you wish to be, and the customers’ perceptions.

Branding strategy cannot be disassociated from business strategy.

Successful businesses and effective brands, focus intensely on customers and other facets of their business, rather than brand building. If a product is not competitive or market presence is declining, no brand will be healthy; therefore, confronting brand issues alone, will do little to reverse poor performance.

Rather than ask, “Should we rebrand?” etc., ask questions from the customer perspective, i.e. “Do customers believe what we say?”, “How should we deliver on our promise to customers?” The answers will dispel assumptions.

Having managed those points of interaction with customers will help the brand strategy to be effective in order to shift demand at the fourth, and final stage.

  1. The meaning of a brand, and how it persists in customers’ minds—and the signals one chooses to convey that meaning.
  2. These signals get transmitted to employees, present and prospective customers, investors and any other stakeholder.
  3. But signals may be distorted for worse or amplified for better along the way, thus enterprises need continually to monitor and tweak their transmission.
  4. Eventually, these total interactions determine how a brand is received and subsequently, perceived, in the minds of customers, to stimulate buying and recommendation responses.

What is marketing

Developing a strategy for modern marketing is challenging. There is an array of interactive devices, platforms or channels the public use, e.g. laptop, smartphone, social networks and search engines. Marketing via traditional channels like Print, TV, and Radio has declined, but remain essential for many businesses.

Regardless of this, we still need to research customer requirements, and offer successful products or services for different target segments, and broadcast this effectively.

Our definition emphasizes marketing’s focus on the customer, while simultaneously implying a need to link to all our business facets to achieve profitability. The definition highlights four questions to be included in marketing strategies:

  • Identifying. How do we define different groups of customers as market segments and as individuals?
  • Anticipating. How do we use our market research to identify changing and future customers’ requirements?
  • Satisfying. How do we assess the customer experience and encourage their loyalty and recommendations?
  • Profitably. How can we choose a mix of marketing communications and services by using different channels which maximize return on investment?

A key point of contemporary marketing is integration of various channels of communication to create a seamless customer journey – there are so many channels – understand how these communication touch points influence people to support the brand.

PURPOSE OF BRAND MARKETING

A brand today must breathe and live through its core values to survive.

Some 87% of consumers globally believe business must give equality to societal issues and business issues, the better a brand examples its societal purpose every day, the more successful both the business and the social impact is – this has been an evolving and growing marketing fact for some years now.

Even though empirical marketing lessons remain the same, these days a brand’s emotional impact on customers is directly in proportion to the social impact of one’s purpose – and will become an even greater factor going forward:

  • Send clear messages to customers
  • Confirm your brand’s credibility.
  • Connect to your target prospects emotionally.
  • Prompt an emotional affirmation and Motivate the customer.
  • Augment customer loyalty to your brand. A brand name that’s trusted ensures confidence and consideration 

The American Marketing Association (AMA) describes a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers, and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Branding is not about getting a target market to choose you over competitors, but more of having your prospects perceive you as the only enterprise which provides their solution.

Understand the needs and wants of prospective customers.

Integrate brand strategies of the business at every communication touch point with the public.

The brand is in the minds and hearts of the customers, clients, and the prospects as the total of their experiences and perceptions of the products. As competition for customers intensifies daily, a robust brand image is priceless. It is crucial to invest in research, defining, and building the brand.

The brand is a source of a promise to a consumer and a foundation of one’s marketing communication and is an asset.

BENEFITS OF BRAND MARKETING

From the small home enterprise to the largest corporation, only a minority have what may be classed as a brand. We associate brands with large organizations, yet the smallest enterprise uses branding methods with excellent benefits.

Loyalty and Recognition

Branding’s main benefit is that customers are more certain to remember that company or product. Brand name, logo, and imagery, helps keep your company in the mind of the public.

The Imagery of Size

Strong branding projects an image of an established business as the public usually associate branding with larger companies which have money to spend on marketing. By creating an effective brand, it can make a business seem larger.

The image of establishment and size is important as a customer requires assurance that it will still exist in a few years’ time.

The Imagery of Quality

Brands project a quality image in a business. People see a brand as part of a service or product which helps to project your value and quality. It is regularly repeated that if one shows somebody two similar products, of which one is branded; they overwhelmingly believe the brand item is of higher quality.

The Imagery of Reliability and Experience

A robust brand gives the image of an established business which has existed long enough to be well known. A branded company is most likely to be perceived as being experienced with their services or products, and thus are generally viewed as being more trustworthy and reliable than an unbranded company.

Multiple Products

If a business brand is strong, it allows linkage of several different products and ranges. Putting the brand identifier on each product or service being marketed, means that customers of one product will be more inclined to buy another product from the brand.

Most of the public believe that a company would be hesitant to put a brand name on an item or service that is of poor quality. Good quality is not replaced with a brand, so bad publicity will damage a brand and a businesses image, particularly if inferior quality prevails and persists for a long period.

WAYS TO BRAND MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Whether you are just starting up, already are a small business, or are an established firm, the re-appraisal of what it is you are all about, and to articulate the same, will apply to all. These days branding and marketing are not just about having something to sell – rather it has become an intricate science of communication and relationship building, with the public.

Choosing Your Voice and Personality

  • Why you do what you do.
  • Why this business is being built?
  • Why do I wish to help, with our product, this particular group of people?
  • What does it matter to me that this gets done?

Though there is not a single formula for brand success, communication, as we have seen is key to creating and sustaining a company image.

What is the brand?

  • How do we wish to be perceived –casual and approachable, or formal and corporate, etc.?
  • Can we be true to our identity all through the existence of the brand?

When you find that story, then repeatedly tell it, in your unique voice via the different channels.

Outline the Values.

Derived from the previous research, those values that you decide will then define you and the brand.

Clarifying a solid set of values pushes one be consistent and also serves as the guiding principles of the company by permeating the enterprise.

Define the Culture.

The integrity of the organization heavily depends upon the culture cultivated in the business.

Know your customer.

Research how the current and potential customers perceive you and the business, use this as a launching pad to calibrate the brand so that it retains current customers while also attracting the ideal customer.

Shout the message from the rooftops.

The following points are most important to consider when planning a communication strategy:

  • The company’s mission statement, which has been derived from self-questioning.
  • Calls to action. What goals are set, and what is the plan for the brand to entice the public?
  • Those benefits that customers will receive from the brand, which we also answered at the beginning of this article.
  • The chosen platforms for the product/s and the appropriate media channel for each.

Communicate the Brand to the Public.

Finally, you get to the point where marketing enters the story. One now has to decide what to do, to raise awareness about the brand.

The previous steps, combined with your perceptive market research and analysis, will be crucial in choosing where and how to communicate the brand and effectively reach the target audience.

Once you have the knowledge of ‘how customers perceive the brand’, you must uncover their preferred channels of communication — whether that means local newspaper, the internet, adverts at transportation hubs or B2B publications. One has to use these channels to broadcast the brand. Not forgetting mobile phones. Mobile use for search increased from 25% in 2012 to 42% in 2014. If the branding is not cellular mobile compatible, one can lose out quite significantly.

Be the Principle You Wish to Project.

The holy grail of successful communication is Authenticity. Ensure the company culture and one’s intentions are in sync with the brand for when customers interact with the business, their expectations must not be disillusioned – you’ll never get them back! The same goes for adverts, personal contacts and one’s social pages identity.

Startups and Small Businesses.

Time and money is often tight. This does not mean one should neglect a product’s branding. One prevalent mistake is to rush to market thinking, ‘I just need to get the product out there,’ and then get surprised at the backend when customers do not come a clambering.

Luckily, it is possible to create a strong foundation for a brand with limited cash and time commitments. Though there is not a single recipe for branding, it also does not imply that you cannot create an excellent result for a business.

Build your online following. One has to remain agile – constantly moving in sync with emerging channels and market tastes.

In today’s marketplace, there is no better way to grow a personal or enterprise brand than via a strong following online. Follow a consistent communication that illustrates the company authentically, and the image will stand the tests of time. Let’s recap those main points:

Define your Unique Brand

  • Do not copy others. Be unique.
  • Envisage the brand as an individual in the initial phases.
  • Define the differences of your competition.
  • Let adventure and innovation be the drivers.
  • Build an allure and mystique about the brand.
  • Create the strategy to force multiply the brand’s worth.

Constantly deliver value

Evolve the brand yet consistently communicate to your customers. Develop their brand loyalty

  • Have branding in mind when communicating to customers.
  • Be a consistent message to the customers.
  • Don’t re-jig and repeat the tired old message.

Engage and construct customer loyalty to a brand -by delivering on the answers given to the questions posed, at the beginning of this article.

CONCLUSION

How does a brand inhabit the minds of customers?

Consumers today have powerful resources at their beck and call. From wherever in the world, one can access customer reviews, blogs, and competitor’s websites.

Amidst all this the better option is for a brand to fully embrace the natural consumer behavior. If the consumers are searching specific information but cannot find it, they get frustrated. If a brand offers access to everything needed to make a decision, customers will be thrilled.

It is not sufficient to simply produce content. On the Internet, infinite resources are at hand and people want information, they want it exactly when they have questions. This is why it is so vital for a brand to create content which is available and accessible at the minimum. Information must function as a draw to find the information prospectives require, in that exact moment when questions are being asked.

Create and distribute the right information. If you produce a guide on a topic that consumers have knowledge of, yet do not focus on the supplemental details that consumers are actively looking for and can’t find, your business ends up with an equivalent of nothing.

Tailor and design what you create according to the specific needs of your audience, after the research has come in. This little guide is an example of such a concept — it was written because it was asked for.

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