Regardless of whether it's the Stone Age or Digital Age, or what type of business you run -- branding is the most important marketing mindset.
With the rise of product comparison sites such as iSelect and Youi, consumers nowadays have more bargaining power than ever. Product review sites, forums and social media have also added a new layer of complexity and excitement in running a business. They make the research phase quicker hence removing the pain in consumers' decision-making process.
Importance of Branding
The one thing you can always count on to keep people sticking to your product or service, especially in this ever changing digital space, is a well-managed brand. No matter how convenient it is for people to compare features and prices online, brand is not an advantage the competitors can easily equalise you on. In other words, branding is the most sustainable path to acquire new customers and keep your existing ones within arm's reach.
We know that people pay ridiculous amount of money for the brands they love. Not only being less price-elastic, consumers get emotionally attached to these brands and turn themselves into brand ambassadors. Like a groupie to music band, they like them on Facebook, write nice reviews voluntarily, enter somewhat pointless Instagram competitions just to further engage with the brand...the list goes on.
People want to be seen as associated with a brand they approve or worship. Displaying these associations they believe defines their own profile. Social media has made these profile-building exercises easier and more socially acceptable.
Branding is the most sustainable path to acquire new customers and keep your existing ones within arm's reach.
Have you wondered why people like to check-in to cool places on their social media page? They don't just want to let you know what they are doing or who they are with.
For many small and medium enterprises branding is a vague and luxurious concept that they believe is only relevant to the big fish in the market. At times they exhaust every marketing dollar on activities that are impacting immediate sales outcomes before they even consider brand management. As to the handful of business owners who possess a mindset of branding, some of them don't know where to start; others stop at a style guide or trademark.
Indeed, branding can be perceived as costly and complex. Many large corporations hire dedicated brand managers to pull it off. However, money and talent are no longer necessities to create the dream brand in the present digital times, where you can be so clever about cultivating your brands into the mind of your target audience.
Branding is a mind game. Brand management is the strategic planning on how you capture the heart of your customers.
With the right digital tools, you can build your brand using the best practices followed by those well-known in the business world.
1. Use Data To Drive Branding Effort
As Think With Google beautifully summarised, "The real potential of digital isn't just in the creative possibilities; it's in the data."
I couldn't agree more. There are numerous digital tools in the market that produce customer behavioural data. Getting data is not a challenge these days; turning data into actionable insights is.
To maximise the impact of branding, use data to identify which touch point in the customer journey provides the most effective branding opportunity. A study published by D.Edelmen in Harvard Business Review found that consumers are best influenced during the consumption stage; branding activity occurred at this stage encourages consumer advocacy which is the heavenly way of acquiring new customers. Now think about where we spend most of our marketing budget - at the consider stage of the customer journey? You are not alone.
2. Conduct Brand Audit
You don't always have to build a brand from scratch. If you run an established business with a fine level of consumer satisfaction, chances are you already have a good name out there that you just haven't recognised as a brand. This customer-generated goodwill paves the foundation of building your own brand. A simple online brand survey could help you quickly identify the key brand associations that currently exist for your brand. The goal of conducting surveys is to reinforce the positive brand associations and work on removing the negative ones in a more conscious and strategic way.
3. Now Be Fancy
Compared to the two action items above, digital fanciness only comes third in significance. Marketers and entrepreneurs often get mesmerised by this and misperceive it as the reason for why we do what we do. The unprecedented sensation of digital media compared to traditional media is only as useful as meeting a genuine brand need. With this baseline covered, viral videos, social media competitions, remarketing campaigns, multi-screen engagement...go wild.