The uniqueness and the attractiveness of the chocolate box start from how beautifully decorated it is. Yes, sometimes we say the taste of the pudding start with the eating but can we taste a pudding not well presented? This is what branding does to a business. It is everything you do and put out there to communicate your brand identity to the world. It’s not just your logo or tagline rather it is a combination of your logo, words, tagline, type font, design, colours, personality, packaging, and service. It is your customer’s experience.
Every brand has a story, branding is the rhythm in which this story flows. It sets the acts and scenes, revealing the success of the brand. The ability to influence the story people tell about your brand is arguably the biggest advantage you could have as an entrepreneur. Seizing the responsibility to waive a powerful story distinguishes you from the competition and gets a special place for you in the heart of customers.
Branding is about appealing to an audience “People forget what you do, but people don’t forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
This applies to branding. Businesses that are household names today have left an imprint in the minds of their customers. How customers feel determines what they say about you and how they relate your story to others. No ad converts and generates higher leads than words of mouth from loyal customers, the effects spread like wildfire.
To Develop a Successful Brand Strategy, Do this;
- Understand the market
The success of a brand is not in how much it portrays your interests and values, but in how much your customers or clients can see these interests and values solve their needs. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand” – Howard Schultz
The backbone of any strong branding strategy is a solid understanding of the target audience. You can create the best product in the world, but the truth is, if your target market doesn’t think it aligns with their values or help solve their problems, it’s as good as nothing. Market research is a vital key and a continuous process required for the success of your business. The next step after market research is designing a product that satisfies your target audience’s cravings and desires and ensuring your short and long-term marketing plans and strategies are around their needs.
Another vital part of market research is knowing your competitors. The fact that you’re targeting a different niche in the market, doesn’t set you free from the claws of competitive analysis. Remember it’s not just you studying the market, similar companies with similar products are doing the same, and everyone wants to exploit a seemingly less competitive but profitable segment of the market, which in the end makes the market even more competitive. Researching about your competitors doesn’t mean just searching through their web page or hunting for their secret marketing recipes. The best way to understand your competitors is to ask their customers how they feel about the products they buy and why they buy them. Read their product reviews and customers’ feedback and reactions at any point a slight change was made to the products they buy.
You may also want to subscribe to their mailing list, to get to understand the kind of relationship they’ve built over the years with their customers and how you can improve on that.
- Make your brand message memorable
Your brand is a promise to your audience, and your brand message is a reminder that you’re here to deliver on the promise. It helps your customers answer the question of why they should always choose you over another. It is you announcing to the world that you’re here with an offer they can’t resist, and you have what it takes to cater to their needs.
The simpler you can communicate your brand message to your audience, the easier it is for them to connect the message with their needs.
This is why Walmart centres its message around the “Always the low price”slogan, from their website to ads, the message is loud and clear, if you want the best at an affordable price, Walmart is the option.
Nike builds their message around the “just do it” mantra, and this is to inspire their audience to action, what else would an athlete want than something that pushes him to action.
The role of your brand message is not to educate your audience about the features of your product. Rather, it is to help them realize the benefits they stand to gain when they make their purchase or consult your service. Make it simple and easy to remember, as said by Henry Devries, memorability equals vitality. What people know, they talk about, and what people talk about is what becomes viral.
- Spread the message with storytelling
Today, the internet is flooded with an overload of information every minute. There are so many ads, write-ups, and videos competing for people’s attention, and as much as it’s an opportunity for local businesses to connect to a global audience, becoming visible amidst the crowd can be challenging.
Brands need to develop a strategy that makes their message stick to the minds of the audience and ensure they get a special place in their heart, regardless of the next offer waiting on their table. This is where brand storytelling comes in; defining your message is not enough, you need to create a story around it, that would compel your audience to come to you. Stories call for attention and stories keep people’s attention by engaging all of their senses in the exercise. Telling your story will help create a long-lasting bond with customers and inspire them to choose you when it’s time to make a choice.
There’s more to storytelling, it helps create a tribe for your brand; a community of advocates who believe in what you do or sell and are willing to tell others about it. Your stories should communicate the why of your business. It should make your customers feel special and connected beyond the purchase they make or the service they get. People who buy Tesla connect with the bigger vision of saving the environment. The moment people fall in love with your why, they become diehard fans of your what.
- Stay true to your brand identity
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffett
Now you have a great brand that your audience has fallen in love with, your marketing strategy ought to be top-notch, and slowly you will become an authority in the market. But do you know one thing that could ruin all this? It is veering away from your brand message, or steering father from what you stand for as a brand. A change in your product that betrays your brand identity may cause havoc that would be hard to control.
A typical example is what happened when Coca-Cola introduced the “New Coke”to the market; lovers of the old Coke took offence with that action and were ready to go all lengths to ensure Coca-Cola return their beloved Coke to the market. Those fans have gotten used to “the real thing”which was the slogan of Coke then, and have developed so much connection with it, that they were ready to dump Coca-Cola if it had failed to bring back the Old Coke and its unique taste.
Customers would leave you the moment you try to be something you are not or are not known to be, and you might not be as lucky as Coca-Cola.
Make sure you stay consistent with your brand values, and ensure every of your employee, regardless of their roles or portfolio properly understand and embody what the company stands for, as well as effectively communicate and demonstrate those values. Your customers should experience the same feeling, on any platform they interact with you.
Good branding is good business, to be successful as an entrepreneur, you must consciously integrate your branding strategy into everything you do.