What is Branding?
Branding is the process of creating, maintaining, strengthening or changing a brand.
Using branding effectively is a very powerful and sustainable marketing strategy. Successful companies use to influence and manage the way people perceive and respond to their brand.
Influencing their target markets buying decisions is the aim.
Summary of the article
1. What is branding?
2. Why most businesses get it wrong
3. How to think about it properly and start doing it
Defining the brand
Clearly define your brand…
– Who & How you help
– What’s the Value Proposition for your customer
Your logo, slogan, branding message and the way your company interacts with its customers (from a user experience perspective) all play their part and need to portray the brand with a single focus.
The aim is to be portrayed in a way that connects with your target market in a unique way; to help them feel like you’re supporting them in a special way – in the way they want to be supported. This should be part of the way you differentiate yourself within the value proposition as their preferred vendor.
This is the outward expression of what your company does for which type of people (target market) in an emotive manner.
- Stay consistent offline and online. Everything needs to be cohesive. Have a look at our marketing mix blog to understand what a cohesive branding and positioning effort looks like.
- Only ‘play’ on the online and offline channels that matter to the consumers.
How to start branding
The big question you need to ask before jumping into a branding exercise is… What do I want to achieve from doing this?
- To change my target market?
- To launch a new direction?
- To increase market awareness?
- Is it because you’ve never had a web presence before?
Why most companies get branding wrong
The recurring branding problems
- No clearly defined brand (too many messages with no cohesive focus)
- No branding strategy (How to get the message out there through the Marketing Mix)
How to start nailing your branding
We think it’s pretty simple, but not many companies get it right.
Connecting with your target market emotionally, in a helpful, meaningful and attractive way are the keys.
Most of the time connecting is the hard bit, as finding that emotional and physical point of differentiation in order to cut through the noise of all the other vendors is difficult.
Working out how to “cut through” is really tough, however using a systematic approach to it will help identify and plan how to overcome the competition. A useful way of looking into this aspect of the marketing is through the eyes of a marketing mix framework. We’ve written another blog specifically with this in mind. It is title Marketing Mix 2022, with the sole purpose of laying it all out for you!
How to brand your business
Engaging with the audience from all aspects (marketing mix) is a must, however as described above it is the message that needs to cut through. Developing a unique and identifiable mark to embody the message is part of the package.
That is why a strategic plan, with a marketing mix and competitive advantage analysis as part of that are essential places to start.
1. Have a single and specific goal with a timeframe to work towards it.
2. Decide on the steps (KPI’s) along the way, so that you can measure progress regularly and change direction if necessary.
3. Map out the branding message and package that in a way that is cohesive and has a very small focal point… from which to develop your marketing mix. As part of the marketing mix, marketing and sales channels will be identified to ‘test’.
4. Content strategies are extremely important to start and continue to test for each marketing channel especially social media channels – as they all have their own uniqueness to them!
5. Make sure you are consistently marketing on the channels that are chosen… this is branding, marketing and sales 101.
Defining your target market with a very small focus is essential to being able to position properly. Developing a brand is all about speaking to the heart of your potential brand loyalists. After you’ve nailed that, most things in the branding process and then promotion of the new or updated brand will be much easier and flow through the strategic plan.
The target market should be defined with the view from who your best customers have been in the past and even quizzing them on what it is about your company that they value the most. This will allow you to have a clear view of the type of people you need to target but also give you a laser focus for the branding message, unless you want to go in a different direction.
Social media is necessary for 99% of businesses… most companies who don’t have a good web-presence think they’re in the 1%. I say web-presence, because without a website as well, social media is only so effective. Google is still where 90% of Australians go to do their ‘buying research’. Social media channels are an incredibly beneficial backup and supporting medium.
Understanding the way, whichever channels you pick work – is of utmost importance – before you throw your efforts into them.
Each marketing and sales channel have their own unique way to benefit your brand’s ability to grow. Consistency in sharing information is the key to all channels – especially social media and digital channels. Connecting in a genuine way is very important, and when you get the strategy right… you’ll see the leads and sales increase, because your audience will grow and become part of your customer base more regularly.
Brand Identity and Brand Value
We’ve found that a competitive advantage analysis saves a lot of heart ache from heading in the wrong direction.
Why? Because an analysis of your business, competition and market allows you to see your strengths and the gaps in the market so that you can position your brand effectively. This includes offering something your competition does not, in a way that the right consumers will resonate with and pay more for!
The unique value that you bring to the market is what your target market loves. We call this a value proposition. There are easier and better ways to do branding and positioning of your brand… a strategic business plan is the right place to start.
Doing a competitive advantage analysis within this planning stage will help you focus in on what needs attention and also give you some more clearly defined directions for the list of things to be done – in order for your to be more successful… the point of any branding exercise.
After that, you must identify where the best place to do the outreach and marketing for the branding exercise.
Brand experience and awareness
Your website is also a place that you can interact with your customer base, and most companies do not do this well. Yes, you want that personal connection.
Let’s face it, chatbots are not human, but they are a way to engage your potential customers in the first instance and give them some sense of being helped before there is the physical connection via email, phone or in person.
The point is to be attentive when people reach out. Most of the time people are searching for answers… which is why Google has become so prevalent – because their main point is to answer the searchers questions!
Nurturing the target market, towards having their problem solved in the way that makes them feel most comfortable is the point. Chat bots are just one thing (but worth investigating) in the myriad of touch-points that need to be attentioned.
Engaging with customers on social media not only gives you the touch points with perspective customers to communicate outwardly, but also allows you to feed back relevant information about the industry and the customers’ perspective of your brand and brand experience. There is so much data out there, which is really only available on digital channels!
Managing your online presence is hard work, but if you have a content strategy focused with one message to a single target market it is a lot easier.
This allows you to communicate well on the channels that matter, and allocate time specific to managing the conversations on those channels.
Answering questions when they are posed is critical to great customer experience. The stats are pretty hard to deny that consumers are expecting companies to engage with them personally. If you ignore this aspect, your competitors will benefit!
If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you with your brand or branding and positioning… just fill out the user information boxes below with your details and we’ll be in touch.
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About the Author
Matthew Benn is the founding partner of Alongside Business Consulting. He has been a senior BD and sales leader for 12 years, as well as being a small business owner for more than 8 years; recently starting Alongside Business Consulting (his fourth business). He really enjoys the challenges and successes that come with developing people and growing businesses, hence has taken these passions and started the management consulting firm with a twist. The plan is to help business owners take control of their destinies and build their businesses simply…Business Growth Simplified.
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