Remember the time when you saw a man in an old tattered suit, standing outside the local grocery, handing out leaflets, well that’s how every startup used to start branding their business. Even though it is still followed by local small businesses, it is not pragmatic for a long term approach. The playbook for branding these days reads quite differently than the one from five years ago. The game has flipped too many times, rules of play scratched and scribbled, to the point that it is almost unrecognizable.
Branding is much more than a few incisive visuals and a catchy tag line. It incorporates every imprint of your product, services and every potential interaction with your target consumers. Great Branding reflects the company’s values, product or service, vibe and attitude. It projects a perfect aura of your business, which becomes difficult to match. Brands that are still relying on the traditional media plans and maintaining the impermeable glass between them and their customers, are losing ground very fast. Meanwhile the new, younger digital native brands are growing legions of fan base by providing customer centric services and adopting a more accessible approach.
Because of the current customer-led economy, most of us have come to expect seamless, meaningful experiences from our chosen brands. While it’s not a simpleton scenario, but basic principles of finding the right audience and sticking to a consistent tone, still applies.
Diving into a specific Culture
It’s a great advantage for a company if your product already has a niche audience catering to. And if not, then it is highly important that you dig deeper to find one. Immersing yourself in one or even multiple subcultures is a powerful, proven brand-building activity.
It is a good news that social media has made accessing these subcultures easier than ever before. Though, you have to be cautious diving deep into cultures that aren’t your native ground, as nothing alienates people quicker than a blatant cultural fail.
Once you have found this explicit culture, creating hype within it is one of the best ways to get your brand on everyone’s lips. You never know when your product’s logo will end up in the national news, creating a new found popularity for you.
Making it Meaningful
So now that you have created a niche market for your brand, it’s time for you to matter to them. A brand with no point of view has no point. After reading this, it might instill a feeling of unrest among most startups, as you start thinking in your head: Do we stand for something? Anything? Well, you are not alone in that.
Working out what your brand stands for, can indeed be a big, complex question – particularly if you are the master of a novice brand, and still finding your feet. It is important to understand that it doesn’t mean that you go out and publicly pick a side in the GOP race, or take up social arms for a good cause. What it refers to is how brands who own their values and demonstrate a high EQ (emotional intelligence) are better positioned to form meaningful connections with their customers.
A good place to start is to paint a clear picture of who your audience is: How do they feel? What do they want? If you have few early adopters, you can reach out to them and find out what makes them tick. Now use this knowledge to craft a message that will invoke a strong emotional connection, which have the power to hitch people to your brand in a meaningful way. You have to show your brand is not just a mere collection of a clever logo and a few finely-honed lines of marketing guff. You have to show, that you understand what matters to them also matters to you, and that you care in a way that is backed up at every touch point.
Make it an ‘I Have to Have’
If your brand infuse a lukewarm response from the audience or your USP (unique selling property) is hidden under a confused or heavily layered message, people will go swiping left over your brand, tinder-style.
It is noticed that a constant stream of new ideas in nailing your point of difference is crucial when vying for people’s attention. It is a matter of identifying either an emerging market or a market gap, and then coming up with something so good people will go overboard to have it. Another way you can achieve this, is by looking at a successful trending product, and then changes one element or one dimension of that product. It’s about making a product better, and then utilizing your audience by using a mixture of inclusivity and exclusivity in your marketing.
A Stand Out Customer Experience
A couple of years ago, marketers were simply interested in getting big, shiny digital content out there, to be seen and engaged with. But now, engagement isn’t important anymore, nor is it a good enough measure to have your marketing impact. In addition to having a good feeling about your brand, people expect to be able to interact with you, and fast. They also want to look behind the veil of your business, so they know you can be trusted.
One of the tactics that you can incubate in your branding is to physically construct the worldview of your customers at different touch points. Don’t smother the customers with lots of options; rather let them get to discover the services they want. Your brand should be mapped out into emotional milestones, tailoring a message or emotion to be evoked in each marker. If you can instill a sense of realness in your branding, it will make people believe you as authentic as you say you are.
Growing an Influential circle
Apart from generating a key interest about your products in customers, you need to forge close links with key influencers in each arena. Collaborating with celebrities, sports personalities and various leaders in public arenas will make your product relevant and accessible to multiple audiences at one time. Success of a brand is associated to its popularity and having a famous Brand Ambassador will get you that.
The development of the digital platform with social media is evolving through a rapid pace, and it will be interesting to see what new branding hot-spots pops up over the next few years. Though, it seems certain, that brands who dares to keep it simple and focus on building meaningful connections with their audiences will be setting themselves up for a massive success.
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