The rules around branding are evolving more rapidly than ever, thanks to a changing consumer environment. The rise of Millennials, social media and thought-leadership are pushing brands to think differently and engage with their audiences in new ways.
In a world where 64% of customers pursue relationships with brands based on shared values, companies need to identify branding strategies that are designed to make people stop and pay attention. In simple terms, if you want to succeed, then you need to learn how to create a brand that becomes your customer’s best friend.
How to Create a Brand: What is Brand Strategy?
Branding strategies are the action plans that organizations use to differentiate their products, services, and identities from their competitors.
Essentially, a brand strategy is your long-term brand, which helps to identify what kind of image you want to build for your customers. This means thinking about what kind of feelings and expectations you want your audience to associate with your company.
Do you want to be authoritative? Sophisticated? Funny? Professional?
A brand is a culmination of all the intangible feelings and thoughts that accumulate in a customer’s mind when they think about your business. Brand strategies are your way of altering those perceptions until they suit your company goals.
The Anatomy of a Brand: Components of Branding Strategies
According to experts, a good brand can lead to better customer loyalty, enhanced company image, and a more relatable identity.
As more customers continue to differentiate between businesses with emotion and experience, instead of price points and product features, a brand could be the first step to getting ahead of your competition. The question is, do you know how to create a brand that really speaks to your audience?
Before you start investing in social media branding and professional brand consultancy, remember that a successful brand contains the following features.
It’s easy to assume that your brand purpose is something simple, like a desire to make money or be successful. However, the best companies have a drive that goes beyond those obvious elements and separates them from their competitors.
If you can define why your shareholders get up and go to work each morning, then you can begin to establish brand strategies that resonate with the fundamental goals and “vision” of your company. While making money will always be important to any business, consumers feel stronger connections to brands who want to accomplish more than a fat paycheck.
For instance, Tesla wants to be the most innovative technology company in the world – but they’re also fueled by an ambition to transform the world with sustainable, electric power. When Elon Musk shot his convertible into space at the beginning of 2018, he wasn’t doing it to make a profit. Instead, he was demonstrating the durability and innovation of his products.
Once you’ve decided what’s driving your brand forward, you need to stick to those underlying ideas religiously and provide your customers with a consistent, familiar identity. After all, according to studies, brands that present themselves consistently are up to 4x more likely to experience brand visibility.
Consistency is easier to achieve than you might think. It simply means assessing everything you do and asking yourself whether it fits with the image you’re presenting to the world. For instance, if you decided that you want to portray a professional and sophisticated identity, then you might not want to post a meme on your Facebook wall.
A great way to improve your chances of consistency is to create some “brand guidelines”. Walmart is a company that’s done this exceptionally well – providing direction on everything from the brand’s editorial voice, to how to use their logo online.
Remember that consistency in your brand image is also essential for your internal communications plan, as it can help to reinforce your core messages and vision with your employees.
Customers are more “emotional” in their buying choices than you might think. In fact, even B2B brands get more sales when they use “emotional” rather than logical marketing messages.
Emotion is the component that makes good branding strategies, great. If you can find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper level, you can enhance engagement and develop a more sustainable relationship for the long term.
For instance, Apple is one of the best examples of a company that uses emotions to establish strong relationships with customers. The Apple branding strategy uses clean design, simplicity, and a desire for innovation to connect with a wide audience. Apple is powerful because it appeals to our need to be a part of something that’s larger than ourselves.
Apple recognizes our need to be social, and our desire to be a part of an important “group” dynamic. That’s why we see people lining up for days just to get their hands on the latest iPhone or Apple release.
Finally, while your customers are an important factor when it comes to helping your company thrive, there’s another group of people who are frequently overlooked in the business space, and that’s your employees. Whether you’re investing in a new type of social media branding, or you’re building a brand from scratch, you need the insights and buy-in of your customers to be successful.
Integrating a brand advocacy strategy into your branding strategies could help you to create an image that’s inherently more powerful. After all, if multiple people are saying the same things about a company, they’re far more believable than just one voice. What’s more, your marketing messages reach up to 561% more people when shared by employees.
Employee advocacy reinforces the company culture and values that you rave about in your press releases, and through your website “about” page, showing how concepts can translate into real behaviors and campaigns.
For instance, Patagonia publishes employee-generated content onto their corporate blog to showcase their position as a sustainable lifestyle brand.