There was a time, when you could hand out your business card, put an ad in the paper, and call it a day. That’s all you needed to do, and quite frankly – the business would come in. Ask anyone who did business in the 90’s, and this is what people were doing. In many cases, businesses would put multiple advertisements in the paper – and saturate the market by spending ton’s of money on paper advertisements. It worked, and it worked really we. With the advent of rich media, the average customer has changed and is remarkably sophisticated. Most consumers today are busy, distracted, and could care less for what you have to say.
The digital age has changed, how, and what, consumers are doing. Regardless of what industry you’re in – there’s an influx of competition, and that means you need to be smart when it comes to advertising dollars and business decisions. Many business owners are seeing their advertising dollars fail, in terms of ROI – and are reevaluating how they do business. Many are coming to the realization, they don’t actually have a strategy – all they were doing is wasting money advertising. Times are changing, and as they say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming,” for businesses who don’t realize they don’t have a brand.
The word, brand, is quickly becoming one of the most abused words in the english dictionary among marketers, and businesses. Everyone needs one, but no one can say what it means to be a brand, or what a brand is made up of. In simplest terms, a brand is an umbrella term that encapsulates a company, it’s values, it’s associated paradigm, and the feelings/emotions that consumers have toward a company, and its product lines.
If you ask a consumer what they think of Toyota – they would say: low cost, reliable, trustworthy. This is essentially what the Toyota brand represents. In contrast, ask the same consumer about Mercedes, and they’ll say: expensive, exotic, consistent. Why? Because that’s the reputation they’ve conveyed, represented, and reinforced. In other words, the brand is a two way street: it’s what the company represents itself as, and it’s what the consumer feels about it. In this
Branding agencies can help you align the internal processes of your company, with how you are perceived externally. It’s important to know that a proper brand knows “who” it is, and in addition – has to communicate that effectively. An effective brand strategy gives you an edge, when facing increasingly competitive marketplaces. Your brand is derived from who you are, what you want to do for consumer, and most importantly WHAT YOU BELIEVE.
The reason most brands, and branding agencies, fail – is because of a subtle, but extremely important mistake. They fail to adequately connect with a consumer on an emotional level. Consumers don’t choose you based on what you do, they choose you based on why you do it. If you believe in constantly providing the best product, and being innovative – then that’s a foundation for your brand, more importantly – it’s why a consumer will believe your product is the best, or is likely to be best. Having a brand allows you to tell your consumer what to expect from your product, or services, from that of your competitors.
Examples of brand positioning statements can be things like, “we’re the most experienced,” – or “we’re the most trustworthy, and believe in XYZ,” – it all stems from what you believe.
In order to communicate effectively, you have to define your brand. This is a difficult process, and extremely time consuming. It involves being able to answer delicate, and important questions, like: whats your mission, why should someone trust you, what qualities do you want people to think of when thinking of your brand and what have you done to support that image?
It’s important that understand the needs, the habits, and the wants of your current/prospective clients. It’s stupid to rely on assumptions, speak to your consumers and understand what they are doing, and want.
Too commonly, companies assume that marketing is the same thing as branding. They aren’t. Marketing is akin to advertising, and it’s the process of getting impressions. It’s getting people to look at your message. Unfortunately, if your message is shit, then what’s the point? Most businesses focus on the marketing component of their brand, and do not succeed in creating a brand, or giving consumers a reason to care about their brand. Marketing is a push tactic, meaning you’re pushing out a message to an audience and expecting a response, i.e. sales. This isn’t branding – and in reality, it’s what comes before the marketing effort. Branding is about pulling a consumer to you, without having to get in front of their face. When you are genuine, as a company, and communicate that, through social channels, through outreach – you’re branding. When you buy a billboard, your marketing/advertising to anyone and everyone.
Still not sure what we mean? Here’s an example of a sales pitch that would come from “marketing,”
We have the most sophisticated laptops – they are faster, more durable, have more memory, and more battery life, than our leading competitor.
It’s meh. It’s what everyone’s saying. Who gives a shit
Here’s what a brand would say:
We believe in creating technology that enables you to live a better life. We create laptops that are constantly being improved in order to accomodate new demands your lifestyle may have. They are fast, light weight, and last long. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then buy me, or talk about me with your friends, or just give me some feedback on what I can do better
See how compelling the latter is? Your goal as a company is to create a brand message, like the one above – and then market the hell out of it through all the different channels. The branding and the brand’s messaging is the essence of who you are, and it’s why a consumer will choose you. It’s also what makes a customer loyal/
There are many companies out there that are very successful. They have huge marketing budgets, and spend a lot of money advertising. On paper, they are successful. Unfortunately, if you turn off the marketing budget – they dissipate quickly. Fear sets in, they begin to fail. On face value, this sounds like an acceptable scenario. The assumption is that marketing is necessary, and you need to market yourself.
The difference between marketing, and branding – is that after a sale has occurred, marketing doesn’t really have any residual value. Having a brand, a consistent message, means that after the sale has happened – you now have a loyal customer, an advocate.
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