Focus on Long Term Brand Building for Effective Marketing Results
How to build a brand?
Branding is important for businesses of all sizes. Possibilities are high that a customer would like to buy new products from a known business. That is why, it is important to establish brand recognition for the company first. Later on, the other steps of marketing seem to be a lot simpler and more effective.
Long term brand building is an on-going process that takes sincere effort for a considerable amount of time. Long term relationship requires at least six month’s effort in the attempt in making the process fruitful for increased sales, word-of-mouth referrals, product advocacy, etc.
A few logical steps taken towards the branding process can help you a lot in the business.
Determine the Target Audience:
Before strategising the marketing plan, it is of optimum importance to the right demography to target. Otherwise, the plan can never be well-structured and targeted. A clear picture of your audience will help you focus on building your brand identity in a realistic way.
Focus on Your Brand Mission:
Before trying to build a brand, it is rather more important to determine the right brand mission. A structured mission statement will help you determining the purpose a business’s existence and marketing. The logo, tagline, slogan of the brand should reflect the mission.
Research within the Niche Industry:
Research is important to know what the other brands do well in their marketing efforts. However, copying their process is never a welcome effort. Your aim should be to make a brand stand out. In the process, it can be quite important for you to understand, where your competitors went wrong. A thorough research on the brand building efforts of the competitor brands can help you select the right method.
List Down the Benefits Offered by Your Brand:
You need to dig a little deeper down your business strategy and policy to understand what can help your brand surface over the competitors. There will always be cheaper or more expensive brands offering great benefits. However, your company must have the potential to add some unique value to the industry that others have not thought of yet.
Make Your Brand Personality Stand Out:
Customers are not looking for just another business offering similar products or service. They look for customised service tailored only for them with specific results and effective personal interaction. The brand personality should suit the need of specific customers.
Creating a brand can help you carve out a niche for the business. However, long term brand building might require considerable time to show results. It is very important to be patient with the process and invest effective time into it.
Brand building tips – How to build brand loyalty online
Let’s start with a stat: 80% of customers would change brands if they found a better offer elsewhere!
If this is the digital marketing scenario, you can quickly put a finger on how important it is to foster brand loyalty. With so many offers, deals, discounts and givebacks floating around, it is quite difficult indeed to keep your customers hooked to your brand. After all, in terms of products and services, there is little in way of difference, right?
So how do you develop brand loyalty, or brand advocacy for that matter. I’m pulling out some branding strategies from my own manual to share how you can use free or paid tools online to help you achieve brand loyalty and retain it.
I’ll discuss the brand loyalty aspect first before moving on to the brand advocacy part.
Effective ways of online brand building by digital marketing
Here I will discuss some important branding lessons learnt. Before you start your online brand building activities, you must be well aware of selecting right digital marketing mix and also you should focus more into inbound marketing techniques.
My strategy for brand loyalty begins with a simple logic
For repeat customers don’t say same thing that they know
You are a different seller to a first-time buyer as opposed to someone who has already bought from you at least once. This makes sense because customers who have already experienced your product or service will know things that a first-timer won’t. You would only waste time telling them what they already know!
Tell real stories. Stories about you, your team, your customers, our vendors. Spread positive vibes through your content. Write great content. Keep personal touch, Keep your brand message and tone conversational and simple. Share stories of untold pain, unexpected gain, benefits and going from untold pain to unexpected gain
Create unique offers
So, cut down on the fluff and look at offering unique discounts to repeat customers. You can upload a data field of existing buyers on your list. When they search for products that you sell, offer them discounts that are not available to others who are not your customers till date. This targeted offer will make second or repeat buyers feel special about buying from your brand. You can offer the discount on their search results page or adverts directed at them.
Develop landing pages dedicated to repeat customers
Similarly, develop landing pages unique to repeat customers. Let them know you value their business. Touch base with them occasionally through emails. Drive them to landing pages that address them as loyal customers instead of the usual marketing message you use for all potential customers across the board.
Cross sell & up-sell
Another opportunity that often goes begging is the chance to cross-sell and up-sell products. When you unleash paid media on repeat customers, make sure that you are tapping into the opportunity to cross and up sell. For example, if a person has bought a TV from your brand, it is normal for them to look for booster speakers. Or someone who’s bought a computer to buy a router. Think innovatively and develop marketing messages to that effect.
It’s time to turn to the brand advocacy now.
Make your customers as your brand ambassadors
You have some loyal customers. Now it’s your turn to convert them into brand ambassadors. Equip them with incentives and freebies to recommend your brand to family and friends. If many of your customers double up as brand loyalists and ambassadors as well, you don’t need a digital marketer at all!
Sharable discounts or coupon code
There are many ways to shake up your brand loyalists into advocacy. The more effective ones include discounts and offers to their email ids with unique codes if they recommend your brand to people known to them. This is similar to what Uber does: you share a code with your friends or family and when they take an Uber ride, they get a discount and so do you.
Recommendation & Reviews
A proven method to advocacy is by the use of recommendations and reviews. Here’s a stat to boost my argument: 92% customers buy something after reading online reviews. When they write reviews, or provide seller points on your website or elsewhere, they get some freebies for their trouble. You can compile a list of reviews and recommendations on your landing page for first-time buyers.
Seller ratings and reviews have become the cornerstones by which a first-time buyer decides on their first purchase from your brand. Many digital marketers use fabricated reviews to achieve this purpose but to the discerning reader, somewhere the false ring to the review makes a loud ting. Why don’t you use paid media, which you are using anyway for various purposes? You will be amazed by how effective it can be!
Related reading: How to manage your online reputation
Once you acquire customers after all the different channels of digital marketing, it would be criminal to let buyers off the hook with just one sale!
Tips to Make Branding A Strong Base for Marketing
Of late, the SEO hype has almost overshadowed the power of branding that can strengthen the backbone of marketing. Nobody can deny the value of brand positioning in the growth of its business. People start liking a product automatically, provided they know its brand, already have loved and liked it and enjoyed doing some business with its owner. We should focus on 3 key branding fundamentals for long term business benefits.
3 Key branding fundamentals
By ritual, we mean a predictable behavior that helps consumers relate to the brand easily. Can you even imagine an Olympic without its iconic torch lighting ceremony? After every four years, the structure of the ritual gets a little tweaked and molded in a new form to fit in the enactment of a whole new story. Nevertheless, people keep waiting for its enactment to be staged at the opening ceremony.
Any kid getting his hand on an Oreo should take the first bite without thinking much. Still, even grown ups would not like to have it without dunking it. Consumers or users get the feel of control over their day-to-day life through these brand rituals. This sense of control that brand rituals impart can build strong sense of kinship. Nothing sells better than the bonding of kinship.
In the early 1900s, the Coca-Cola company hired a designer to create Coke bottle exclusively for the drink that it remains recognizable even after years just as the Coke bottle. The rest is history. In order to make mark as a strong brand, it is very important to create unique content that is recognized only as a property of your brand for years. It should become the brand voice for your product and keep reminding people of the brand.
Ripple Effect on Cross-channel Marketing:
If cross-channel marketing is the sea, branding has to play the role of a stone that touches different focal points of the water surface creating ripple on the cross-channel marketing. People should be able to move between channels seamlessly and interact with the content or marketing message quite conveniently.
Online Branding: Get ‘Real’ People Onboard
The internet market is bulldozed by the presence of social media networks. Brands worth little presence on the internet are spending the big bucks chasing Facebook and Twitter because they feel that these social media will help them be counted among the big boys.
Let’s draw up an analogy from the everyday life that we lead. Think that you are very popular among your family and friends. You are the cynosure of all eyes at parties and talk invariably revolves around you and how you live your life. In the same frame, stencil in the fact that you are unemployed. Will that serve your purpose or look good on your social presence?
The same goes for brands with little brand value on the internet but come attached with big dreams of social media domination. You cannot do that without building up a brand that people identify with. Social media networks will help you promote your brand; it will not actually help you develop the brand.
Social brands are those that have a strong presence on social media platforms and engage in interactions and discussions with online users. Wait, isn’t that what every brand online tries to do? Then why are some brands more successful while others remain under the long shadow despite such vociferous exposure? The answer is simple: people fail to identify with such brands.
Create brand values
Look at the defining ads on TV. Why do you feel influenced by these brands? It is because you are identifying with them. They are getting down from their ivory towers and engaging you in a very personal, intimate way. Can your brand do that? Here are some values that you need to have in order to engage people like a Coca Cola or a Pizza Hut:
There are several players in an arena to keep the play going. What is missing is a ring leader to take the play forward. You need to step up to the plate. You need expertise, that quality that everyone claims to have but few actually do. When you have expertise in a particular domain, you will emerge as the leader, no matter how much time it takes or how many times you are put down. People like to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about. Can you be that voice?
This borrows from the first one. A brand with authority is usually the one everyone listens to. That brand is like the guide, showing the path ahead. Authority brings with it responsibility and commitment. You have to think long-term and think beyond your own little profits. Look at Facebook. It is trying to bring internet access to every single person in the world. Imaging the vision: apparently devoid of profit making or other ulterior motives! Now think of a time when the remotest corners of the world know the internet to be synonymous with Facebook. Will there be a bigger brand presence? That is authority for you.
In times of trouble, you turn to someone you trust. In happier times, you will surely return to this trusted friend. Brands have to build that trust factor among people. Making brands synonymous with the product or service. “Give me a Coke!” is what most say when they want a cola. That is the trust that Coca Cola has managed to cultivate among people, taking it to a completely new level of audience engagement. You may not be able to replicate that overnight, but a walk in the right direction will take you places with your online branding.
Types of people you need for your brand building
As you can understand, all these requirements demand people-centric skills. You need people to pull in more people. Experts tell us that the next level of online branding is to put real people in the limelight. But you cannot simply put up anyone on the brand pedestal!
Here are some traits that you need in people that you prop up to represent your brand:
- Experts: Professionals who are experts in their fields can be the best brand builders. Do you have a writer with years of experience on your team and a writing course that you offer as a service? Bring the two together and you will definitely benefit from the brand building that will be done through this blending
- Spokespersons: Brand ambassadors need to be excellent spokespersons. The person must be able to communicate and interact with audiences, cutting across demographic divides. This will help the brand immensely.
- Likeability: The people who will hold the key to your brand must have a general positive vibe going for them. An executive may be excellent in his job, but if he’s not a people’s person, he is not your face of the brand.
- Integrity: This should be prized and honored above all! A person with a clean track record is your only option for a good brand ambassador. That factor of sincerity and integrity rubs off on your brand as well.
We have some wonderful professionals who represent our company at various events, doing wonders for our brand value! Have you tried it yet? Pipe in your thoughts here.
Make Your Brand Personal: Why and How of personal branding
Messages that connect a brand with consumers are always personal and emotional. Don’t let the marketing pundits tell you otherwise! You may find many suggestions floating around that consumers love statistics, they love facts and they enjoy looking at the competition before making a move.
That is all very well, but they come after the need to forge that emotional bonding. Do you remember the Google ad about friendship between the seemingly hostile countries India and Pakistan? There are no facts, stats or hardcore marketing hits there, and yet it worked so well across the board!
Why Do you Need a Personal Touch
An average online consumer is usually bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every single day! No matter which web page they turn to, they have ads staring back at them from their computer screens. Google and Facebook, for example, take note of your web browsing history and recommend ads according to your tastes and preferences.
If you check up amazon.com for bags today, in a matter of time you will find ads of bags lining up beside your Gmail inbox! Additionally, the range of options for consumers to pick from is so mindbogglingly large, that they are spoil for choice to the point of feeling genuinely confused! In such a world, how do you reach ahead of the curve and make an impression on a consumer? This is where the personal touch comes in.
Get the Emotional Quotient Right
There is really no point in faking it for your customers. Unless you believe in your services and products, they can see it right through and call your bluff. In the same vein, if you go overboard with the emotional touch, it will come off as cheesy and manipulative. Think of the #LikeaGirl campaign. Why do you think it works on an emotional level? The children in the video actually feel the message. They are not faking it like professional actors. The video itself projects the genuine emotions, unadulterated. You have to hit the same high notes with your brand.
For those Who Can’t
You must be wondering at this point, how do you make your brand of SEO services emotionally appealing to users? It is not just florists and Hallmark card-sellers which have a vice-like grip on emotional matters! You can do so too, even with products and services that have no emotional feasibility on the surface. You have to think it out. Rewind to the Google ad mentioned above. Google did nothing to push its services. Instead, it showcases how those services can be used to form human bonds and relive them. You need a different perspective to get it right.
There is something else which brands dealing in products and services that do not remotely project emotion in the hearts of humans can do: create a sense of shared interest that leads to bonding. How about building up a community where consumers can join up and share their interests and passions? You can think of taking this initiative offline as well by organizing events.
The idea, however, is to always remain committed in your efforts. Consumers will only sign up when you give them something that they can’t have anywhere else: an experience they cannot replicate elsewhere. Your own passion and interest in it needs to spread out like an epidemic.
High benchmarks, yes, but that is what you need to achieve to engage the modern-day consumer.
How web promotion helps in branding
Almost every business has a website these days as without an online presence its very hard to create a ground on the business world. The web promotion is something that’s very important in order to make your website business known to everyone. There are some basic and advanced techniques that can be used to promote your business or services online.
The modern technology has changed and the scope of creativity has increased with that. The best promotional processes for a website are those which are innovative. What you need to know is how to apply the best strategies to make an online presence of your site.
The very first thing that you need for web promotion of your website is the advertisement. There are many ways that you can follow to advertise your business. Creating a brand is all about attracting more people with something unique.
There are many websites where you can place a animated or static advertisement of your products or services. However, if you want it to work best for you then you have to place the advertisement in the most used online places. The search engine pages are the most visited sites on the internet and placing your ad in there will get you most traffic possible.
Another thing that you need to create brand presence of your business is making the site easily available to all. The modern day SEO or search engine optimization techniques are the best strategies that you can use to get a good spot on the search engine result pages.
If you come among the first five results of the first search engine result page then people will find you easily and you will get great amount of traffic. There are many kinds of SEO techniques and only the SEO experts can get you the results that you hope for. Planning is very important for web promotion of your business website.
Using proper contents is the key to successful web promotion for your business. Well developed and creative contents have the power to attract most of the people and keep them in your site. If you have bad quality contents then people will ignore you no matter how great your services are and they will not recommend you to anyone.
If you have good contents then they will tell everyone about your services or products. The content writing techniques, that can get you more customers, can be created by professional content writers. Make sure that your contents reflect the quality of your business so that people find you worthy.
A very basic thing to remember about web promotion is the need of having a good website. A business website should be attractive but simple to use. You need to attract people with the look and feel of your website but to keep them on your site you must make it well arranged and easy to use. Branding your website is important to get traffic as it’s the only thing that you need to have expected and loyal customers.
Related Reading: The effect of social media on branding
The Question of Rebranding: Do You Need It?
Most websites were not built in a day! And certainly not the ones that have some SEO juice to speak of. These websites were developed and launched when the online marketing scenario was very different from what it is now. The game has changed and so have the rules. Google and social media networks like Facebook or Twitter do not function the way it did when you bought your domain name or launched your website.
To put it in another way, your considerations at the time of developing the website and the branding were very different then. If you were to launch your website now, you would definitely do things differently, would you not? If the answer is no, then probably the question of rebranding does not arise for you. It is so because rebranding is not a piece of cake! You will have to unlearn a few things, replace a few things from the target audience’s mind and that will take a good deal of effort.
When you start from scratch, there is a completely different kind of challenge. Rebranding is a different kettle of fish. But I’m not going into the question of how to rebrand in this post. Here I’ll only discuss whether you actually need it or not. The answer, as many answers that can define a business irrevocably, depends on a few questions that only you can answer. I’m posing them for you here with a few pointers on how to get to that answer without mudding the waters further.
Question 1: How Strong is Your Brand?
An obscure brand will find it easier to rebrand and reposition itself. A more pronounced brand will find it difficult. Brands that get mentioned regularly on social media or in the works of bloggers cannot immediately go in for rebranding because their influence is spread out far and wide. Moreover, if you are getting SERP ranks with your main keywords, you have more reason to stick to your guns. Then you will have to look at other options to leverage this brand position that you have online. Rebranding is not for you.
Question 2: What Kind of Traffic You Need?
By ‘kind’ of online traffic, I mean both numbers and consumer groups. When brands look for a new identity online, they have a target in their mind. For example, if I have website and brand name that gives me x amount of online visitors daily, I may feel unsatisfied. I’m looking at 2x number of visitors. Will your rebranding venture get you 2x amount of traffic? That is the central question here that is very tough to answer. Also, when a brand gets by for some time, the traffic is expected to increase as compound interest. You need to take these into account when crunching the numbers.
Question 3: Will Rebranding be Long-Term?
If you have big plans for your rebranded brand, this path is definitely suited for you. Unless you have long-term plans, it is no point taking this forward and putting in that kind of financial and time investment. Additionally, if you have long-term plans with your brand, it is better to start the rebranding process right now. Do not sit on it for months and years expecting the tide to turn in your favor. If you make the effort right now, you will save yourself a lot of pain down the line. Your new brand will also get more time to work the online routes and get your dividends.
Question 4: Will Your Audience Like It?
A brand is as much you as the person who patronizes it. You cannot take all the decisions about the branding process and make it all about you. That way, it will remain all about you! You need to include the target consumers in your decision-making. Ask them if they are game for rebranding. As an example, if the name 7boats does not work for them, will the name 9boats be more preferable to them? You will get to know what they are thinking about your branding if you ask them about it. A small test survey will get you the desired result.
The Final Word
Rebranding is a one-way street. You cannot go back to your old brand without losing face. People will take your entire business to be quite flippant that way. You need to be sure that you are not able to carry on any further with this brand and need a different path forward. When you tick all the boxes mentioned here, you are ready for a shift.
Brand Optimization Lessons
Brand Optimizing Lessons – In the age of overcrowding among brands, it is a decidedly tough ask to optimize brands. The stiffest resistance comes from the consumers themselves. They are saturated with brands brewing around them. Consumers are quite tired of the traditional branding practices and those ways of making sales.
They are looking for a change. If you can give it to them, you are making yourself heard without breaking a sweat. Change does not mean trying out some bizarre stunts to grab audience attention! In the world of 24/7 breaking news, a single false step will hurt the brand for eternity.
Brand Optimization Lesson 1: Open Up Doors for Customers to be a part of your company or brand
This is the single-most important breakthrough point for brands. Opening up doors is what smart brands do. It is like the famous fourth wall theater dynamics where the audience comprises the fourth wall, along with the three walls on the stage. Your brand is you, the employees, the products and services and the fourth entity: the consumer.
Make the consumers feel involved. Allow them to dictate terms in policy and decision-making. For example, ask their views on the product name of a new launch. Let them vote through social media or on the website. It is not just a smart brand building exercise, but also wonderful for fresh perspective that your in-house brand pundits may not be able to provide.
Brand Optimizing Lesson 2: Open Up Platforms
When you can reach out to different consumers, no matter which online platform they are on, why restrict yourself to a few that are known and followed widely. Everyone knows about branding on Facebook and Twitter. Why not hit the other social networks in the fray? A simple task like creating websites that are browser-friendly and device-friendly across the board will do wonders for branding.
The consumers must be able to get in touch with you in a jiffy, no matter which device they are using or which platform they are on. That should be your goal in the long run. Get listed on Wiki and develop apps for hand-held gadgets. Take part in threads on forums and discussion rooms online. These are well-known but rarely practiced!
Brand Optimizing Lesson 3: Open Up Customer Care
In my experience, the first question about a wannabe brand that a consumer asks is how is the customer service? This concern has topped the most frequently asked question about not just new but established brands as well. Everyone understands that contact with a brand does not end with a sale. It goes well into the years with after-sale service or other requirements.
Brands that may sell quality products or service but give consumers a nightmare after the sale is clinched often hit rough patches after a period of time. Customers quickly share their pain online and in a short span of time, no one wants to touch that brand! Steer clear of that pitfall and throw up the customer care team for a genuinely caring approach. Resolve issues on phone, email and social networks.
Brand Optimizing Lesson 4: Open Up Content
A website or blog can be run with a battery of content writers, not a brand. Sales pitches and clever marketing gimmicks are known to consumers and they are less patient about it today. What they want to hear and read is that fellow consumers think about your products, services and brands. Just like I mentioned about customer care, user reviews and recommendations rank at the top of the heap when it comes to questions about brands.
Did you not notice how your own purchases are dictated by a quick glance, if not a thorough read, of the user review sections on ecommerce sites? Why don’t you include these reviews in your own website instead of relegating them to third party sites only? Publish the flowing platitudes and work on the stabbing criticisms. This brings about transparency in the brand, something that is very much lacking among brands today. This will also bring a breath of fresh air for consumers who are used to being stifled when they make discordant sounds.
The Final Word
I can speak authoritatively on the brand optimizing lessons from my personal experience of steering 7boats.com from a fledging green-horn to the established digital marketing brand it is today. In these few years, the clients and customers have taught me the lessons that I shared here. Branding, at heart and stripped off technical ad jargons, is about making a heart-to-heart connect between the seller and the buyer. The more you keep it simple and uncomplicated, with the glass wall as thin as possible, the better it will be to reach out to consumers.