What is Branding in Marketing?
When people hear the word “branding,” most think of sleek logos, eye-catching fonts, and carefully selected color schemes. While these are essential ingredients of successful branding, brand marketing itself is much more than just a few visuals.
First off, what is branding? Marketing books and experts define it as how companies communicate their products or services to their target market. This encompasses everything from the overall message to the logo and tone of voice.
Branding provides a way for customers to identify you, build recognition, and communicate trust. Now, that’s a tall order, and it certainly takes time, but branding done right is an exceptionally powerful tool for any company.
To help you build your brand, we’ll explore brand marketing strategy, why it’s essential, and how to do it right. But before we get started, let’s review the definition of brand marketing, also known as the brand advertising definition.
The Definition of Brand Marketing
This one’s easy enough: Marketing + Branding = Brand Marketing! To understand how these two concepts collaborate to create a powerful tool for your company, let’s look at them separately:
- Marketing is the overall set of tactics and techniques you use to promote your products and services. Within marketing, there are many tools at your disposal, from marketing plans to print to digital marketing. Branding is simply one of them.
- Branding is considered a high-level strategy used to guide other tactical marketing efforts. For example, suppose your company’s branding is all about family-friendliness. In that case, these ideals should be apparent in every marketing campaign that you do.
As you can see, these two strategies play off each other – each one enhancing the other.
The Importance of Brand Marketing
Brand marketing is essential for establishing a strong reputation for your company. It creates trust, which in turn encourages customers to choose your company over others. This is especially vital when you’re in a saturated market with lots of competitors.
Why do certain people choose the iPhone over an Android smartphone like Samsung? It could be because of its innovative features or the operating system. However, there are lots of models out there that are technically superior to the iPhone. One could even make the argument that Apple’s closed ecosystem limits the things you can do with your iPhone.
The real reason people choose the iPhone is because of the high level of brand recognition it has created. Apple’s sleek designs are elegant, but their branding, in particular, fosters the impression that their products are in a class of their own. The secret to Apple’s branding is that they sell a distinct lifestyle more than a product. From their slogans (Think Different) to their sleek packaging, Apple has successfully created a loyal fanbase that resonates with this ideal.
Another form of branding is to emphasize what values are important to your company, which helps your brand resonate with the right people. For instance, Colgate sets itself apart by focusing on education in its branding. While other toothpaste brands focus on the confidence that fresh breath gives you, Colgate emphasizes oral care and science more than anything else. By positioning themselves in this way, Colgate has built a high level of authority and trust with its users.
Charitable efforts and donations are a great form of brand marketing. You build trust and loyalty among your customers while helping those in need — win-win, right? A successful example of this type of brand reputation building is TOMS. They’ve successfully built their brand by donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair bought by consumers. The mission statement on their website clearly reads they’re “in business to improve lives” in big, bold writing.
Reputation can be a much more effective foundation for branding than logos and color schemes. Take Zappos, for instance. The online shoe company has built a reputation for having one the best customer service approaches anywhere. Because of this, Zappos has created lasting loyalty among its customers.
How to Develop a Brand Marketing Campaign
There are lots of avenues and options for building your brand, and it can definitely seem daunting. While it can depend on your market, branding is generally pretty easy if you know who your company is and what it stands for. Here’s a quick guide on how to ideate and create your brand marketing campaign:
Define Your Brand’s Vision
Creating an effective brand marketing strategy starts with the most critical element – your company’s vision. What do you want your target audience to know and feel about your company? Why does it exist? What are you passionate about?
Your company’s purpose is the foundation of your marketing brand. It will inform everything from the words you use in your campaigns to the color palette of your website and social media pages.
Without an established brand, you risk creating disjointed and aimless marketing campaigns that are guaranteed to confuse the market. Branding strategies can be streamlined by answering a few questions you probably already know the answer to:
- What problems or challenges is your brand trying to solve?
- What’s your company’s origin story?
- Why does your company exist?
- What principles and values does your brand stand for?
- Why should a customer trust your brand?
Set Long Term Branding Goals
Branding is about the long game. Establishing a strong brand presence is something that can take months, even years, to pull off. Therefore, it’s vital that you plan your brand marketing strategy around long-term goals rather than short-term outcomes.
Good long-term goals include expanding to a new market location, becoming the top brand in your industry in market share, or building a large and loyal social media following.
Identify Your Target Audience
The main reason any company exists is to serve a group of customers – also known as your target market or target audience. Branding is merely the way you communicate your company’s vision and purpose with this group.
It’s therefore essential to know your target market just as well as (or even better) than they know themselves. To do this, you create what’s called a “customer persona.”
A customer persona is a profile that describes your ideal customer. For example, let’s say you own a clothing company that sells primarily to a younger female demographic. Your persona for this demographic, which you decided to nickname “Lisa,” might be a 20-year old female college student who studies at a state university.
However, your persona shouldn’t stop with shallow and vague demographics. It should delve deeper into psychology and human nature. What are Lisa’s likes and dislikes? What does she believe in? What issues does she care about? How does she spend her typical day?
Once you know this, you can use the data to be much more selective and focused with your brand marketing. You’ll also be speaking her language, which allows you to forge a deeper, more authentic connection with “Lisa” and consumers just like her.
Successfully identifying your target audience is a result of thorough research. Start by gathering data using surveys and interviews. You can also search online for places where your target market likes to engage with others, such as Reddit and Facebook groups, and interact with them there.
Consistency is Key
One of the most important things to achieve in branding is consistency. That means that your messaging, style, logo, color scheme, font, word choices, and even design elements should always match in every single marketing campaign you do. Not only that, but the intangible things (like company policies and customer support) should also feel consistent across all customer touchpoints.
Consistency is the basis for creating market brand recognition. Just look at Apple’s iconic clean white packaging or McDonald’s familiar red and yellow color scheme. Both are powerful branding tools you instantly associate with these companies. Without consistency, it wouldn’t have been possible for these two brands to succeed on the scale that they have.
Of course, achieving consistency is easier said than done, especially for larger organizations. But there’s a way to enforce your brand rules using brand guidelines.
Think of brand guidelines as your branding instruction manual. It’s a document that lists the designated color scheme, logo, font, messaging, communication style, and other branding rules that everyone in your company must follow. This can be especially advantageous when working with outsiders, such as freelance designers or marketing consultants, who may be unfamiliar with your brand.
Establish an Emotional Connection
It’s well known in sales that people buy with their emotions and later justify their purchasing decision with logic, which is why your branding needs to connect with your customers emotionally to be effective.
For example, suppose your brand is all about fun and taking it easy. In that case, you want to make your brand messaging lighthearted or even humorous. By encouraging an easygoing vibe, you can emotionally connect with a larger consumer base by appealing to their desire for fun and relaxation.
By evoking particular emotions every time your audience sees your brand, they’ll associate those positive feelings with your company. As a result, you’ll also come across as a more human, relatable, and authentic business.
Tell a Story
Everyone loves a good story. Storytelling is how humans communicate their values to each other.
A good story is effective in the same way an engaging, emotional hook is – people relate to it instantly. It’s a rallying point that will resonate with your customers, compelling them to trust your brand. Stories also make your brand significantly more memorable. Just think about SuperBowl commercials: which ones did you remember after? The truck commercial listing boring features and performance metrics, or the heartwarming story of a dog and cat who became friends that somehow ended up being a commercial for a brewery?
To create an engaging brand story, you need three things: relatable characters, a conflict or twist, and a satisfying conclusion. Then, weave your brand’s ideals and principles throughout your tale.
For instance, let’s say you want to communicate the origin story of your vegan health store. Growing up, you might have lost one of your loving parents (relatable characters) because of a devastating illness like heart disease (conflict). This inspired you to live healthier and encourage others to live that way by adopting a vegan lifestyle (conclusion).
Telling a story is much more effective than simply saying you want to promote the health and well-being of your customers. You’re showing them that your company started from a very human foundation while communicating your dedication to that cause and the values you stand for.
Know What Your Competitors are Doing
Checking out what your competitors are doing is vital in many business aspects, including brand marketing. However, be sure not to replicate what they’re doing — no one likes a copycat. On the contrary, make your brand memorable and unique by differentiating from the tired old strategies everyone’s seen before.
Suppose your biggest competitor is all about communicating that they have the lowest prices on the market. In that case, you might want to focus more on quality or customer service in your branding. Just be sure to add some flair that makes it uniquely yours.
Examples of Powerful Brand Marketing
You don’t need to look far for examples of powerful brand marketing in action; you see it in the products and services you use every day.
Disney is a case of wildly successful branding. They’ve condensed their entire brand experience into a single tagline: “Where Dreams Come True.” This powerful mantra guides everything that Disney does, fostering a sense of wonder and appealing to both children and adults alike.
Bitly Branding: More Than Just Link Shortening
We’ve built Bitly as an effective brand marketing and analytics tool for all your online marketing campaigns. One of its most powerful features is Bitly branded links. With it, you can customize any link with your brand name to increase recognition and boost your reputation.
Humans distrust things they can’t fully understand. Long, unreadable links with sketchy characters are a surefire way to send your site visitors running. With Bitly branded links, you can simplify your links to build trust as soon as someone accesses your website. For instance, http://www.yoursite.com/campaign/pages/register.php can turn into http://YourSite.co/RegisterNow. Your followers will instantly recognize your brand name, which will increase click-through rates thanks to the added trust.
Discover how easy it is to use Bitly branded links to refine your brand marketing strategy and boost brand awareness. Get started today!
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