What is a branding strategy?
Your branding strategy helps define how your customers perceive your business, your store, and your product. It’s about determining your positioning, or the aspects of your brand that are unique. More importantly, it helps you differentiate your brand from the competition, and avoid having to compete on price.
Building a branding strategy for your company can also be considered a powerful marketing and customer loyalty technique, and vital for any new e-commerce store or e-store already established.
Make it your first priority to define your branding strategy and positioning before you look at other aspects of your business. It’ll save you loads of time and money, not having to back track later trying to make your business resonate with your customers.
Before we look at some of the tips to leading an effective branding strategy, let’s first make sure you have a solid understanding of your business. You can start by doing a little brainstorming exercise to discover what makes your brand unique:
Does your business have a mission?
Does your product solve a problem?
What do your current customers think about your business?
What do your prospects think about your business?
What standards do you want your company to be associated with in your customers’ minds?
Ideally, you should be able to answer these questions without thinking too much. And even better, you could include these messages on your website. For example, in a philosophy page to show your brand’s message, or a customer ratings page to show what customers think about your product.
Below are 14 useful tips for leading an effective brand strategy.
- The brand shouldn’t be confused with the company. The brand is the hero that the company will shape voluntarily, freely, and consciously to more quickly convey its strategic ambition and its objectives.
- Define your unique selling proposition (USP): This is a fundamental step in any successful branding strategy. The goal is to differentiate your brand from those of your competitors and give customers a reason to buy a product from your home. Build your USP around a story, a single philosophy or an objective of your business and your product.
Why is your organization different? Why is your product special?
- Advertising only one of many possible ways to express the brand and spread the brand’s message. Facebook didn’t rely on advertising in its rise to popularity.
Build a brand
- Branding, or brand management, takes insight, professional skills and talent. It’s not a game of chance.
- Brands exist only because individuals are beings of desire, agitated by emotions, traversed by dreams even if they are “stuffed” with contradictions.
- A great brand’s message resonates with an existing idea held by individuals at a given moment: Today, for example, the standard for a laundry detergent is to make the laundry perfectly clean; but the new need is to perfume, maintain the fiber, protect the skin, and respect the environment. It’s the sharing of the same idea between the brand and individuals that gives birth to a market.
- The world is a sum of inconsistencies, there is no coherence. The work of a brand and branding is not about solving everything but about combining two or three things that usually don’t work together: for example: sports shoes that are in fashion and don’t smell bad after a week. Or a product/service that helps customers get more while spending less.
- The brand is at the core of a company’s strategy and execution and determines what moves the company will or will not make. Branding influences marketing and sales departments the strongest, but also touches R&D, Customer Service, Project Management and other departments. So, branding should account for all arms of the company.
- “War is a simple art and one entirely of execution,” said Bonaparte. Ditto for the brand: a failed execution destroys the best ideas in the world;
Building a relationship with customers
- Many big brands will die in the years to come because their leaders will project their own behavior on customers they don’t know and with whom they have nothing in common. The brand leaders will be led by strategists obsessively interested in the customers they serve.
- Many new brands will rise to success because they will have better understood their customers than others. Tomorrow’s brands will absolutely have to empathize with their customers, regardless of their internal motivations.
- Successful brands belong more to customers than to the company.
Let’s look at JAGUAR
JAGUAR, in the early 1980s, was a dying brand. The legendary brand of British luxury cars was no longer technically advanced and orders collapsed. Logically, the brand should have disappeared. But, since then, JAGUAR has resurfaced and remains a legend. Impossible to explain in traditional marketing, where a product develops and dies definitively, especially if it has been deficient. But, the brand JAGUAR, since its origin, is charged with meaning to the public.
The JAGUAR “buffs” haven’t forgotten the virtues of the brand and have given it time to rebuild and to find the aura of yesteryear. JAGUAR reacted: with the S series, first, then the diesel engine, and today with four very well differentiated models, the brand is able to signify quality, luxury and sportiness, with the added bonus of legend to differentiate itself from prestigious German brands. It’s JAGUAR’s evolutionism that is proof of the importance of brand pivoting. They prove that no brand is untouchable.
- A great brand has to face the criticisms of its customers and solve them instead of putting on a blindfold.
Now Nascar for Example
Nascar uses its Official Nascar Fan Council, a customer intelligence platform that captures fan feedback from 12,000 users to provide continuous insights. Hewlett-Packard partnered with Nascar to develop a social media command center, to keep the pulse of fan feedback in real time.
Nascar saw an up-tick after appointing Steve Phelps. Since then, Nascar has made many impacting changes from improved game rules to a new car launched. The Nascar organization has put a huge focus on fan engagement and it’s paying off. Because of good listening practices, Nascar is seeing a resurgence in popularity and appeal with sponsors and viewers.
- Some brands have a bright future: those who believe in real innovations (useful and disruptive) and who render real services to customers.
HubSpot provides inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. In addition to providing the software itself, HubSpot offers numerous free educational courses related to inbound marketing strategy. The courses are free to customers and non-customers and a certification is awarded to the individuals that complete their course by passing an exam.
HubSpot also publishes helpful resources for marketers in a blog. By going beyond offering a well-designed product to provide helpful education and abundant resources for their target audience, HubSpot has achieved brand positioning as a helpful, innovative and authoritative marketing software company.
Bonus tips for better branding
- Have your logo designed by someone with experience in branding. Your logo must be recognizable and well designed.
- Integrate your brand with all your social network profiles, using the same profile image on all platforms.
- Be consistent with your tone and style across all platforms.
Differentiate your brand in product quality
Using your brand’s product quality concept as a marketing tool is an effective way to build and strengthen brand loyalty. Nowadays, if the product you sell is not manufactured or designed with quality in mind, you will not get repeat customers. Or even worse, you could see customers begin to express their dissatisfaction through the many social networks available to them.
If you are constantly able to provide remarkable quality, you’ll surely have customers for life.
Change the rules of branding promotion
A daring but potentially explosive brand strategy is to change the rules of the game of branding promotion. Taking risks can sometimes attract new attention to your e-commerce site or online business offering. If your product is original or unique, why not position your marketing plan around this benefit? By finding a common habit among your customers and focusing on it, you could see early loyalist starting to grow. The goal here is to present your brand in an “atypical” way, to awaken people’s attention.
Customize the customer experience
You’ve probably placed an ordered online and received a product that you really liked; the quality and details were present in every aspect of the buying experience, including in the custom packaging. To create such a customer experience, the members of the shop team probably did lots of research; to be sure to target people who match their brand identity, and be able to personalize every detail.
For example, say you’re in your thirties, you dress in checker shirts, you appreciate the craftsmanship and the qualities of hand-made items. You do an online search to buy a plaid shirt and find a brand that stitches all of their shirts locally by hand. After purchasing the product, you receive it in beautiful packaging, personalized with a handwritten note inside and a high-quality printed label. It’s a personalized customer experience. The people who ship the item pay attention to the smallest branding details of their product, and the physical product itself. A good example of a company that does this by taking into account the user experience is Loot Crate – a company that sends a monthly surprise box to video game enthusiasts.
The spirit of generosity
Brands can successfully position themselves in a competitive online space by adopting a spirit of generosity towards their customers. No matter how many sales your e-commerce site makes, there will always be an opportunity to share your gratitude with your customers. Be sure to do everything in your power to thank your customers for their purchases. This will allow you to not only position your brand as grateful and aware of their support, but also to gain lifelong customers and brand evangelists.
Now that you have built a solid foundation for your brand, it’s time to start soaring high. If there are other examples of effective branding strategies that you know, let me know in the comments! And if you need help with developing your brand or have questions, BOOK A STRATEGY CALL NOW!