Every business dreams of obtaining word-of-mouth success. A product is put on the market and people find it so compelling that it becomes the industry leader just because people can’t stop talking about it. It still happens today of course: Twitter exploded into popularity without any discernable, formal online brand marketing. However for every such success there are dozens of failed ventures. Yes, viral and word of mouth success can be incredible and compelling forces, but they are capricious and cannot be relied on solely. Consistent branding success depends on strategy and planning.
Consider the incredible success of Amazon.com. This is a definitive case in which branding strategy was applied to cement a product in the popular consciousness. The marketing strategy included outstanding advertising efforts centered on a relatable example: showing how large monuments couldn’t possibly hold Amazon’s worldwide book supply. The commercials were aired at vital viewing times, were targeted to a specific audience, and the planning paid off in spades: Amazon is still a defining powerhouse in the online marketplace.
There were other online bookstores before Amazon, and there have been many since, yet Amazon remains in firm control as the leader of the new and used online book markets, despite many competitors offering lower prices and comparable inventory. The message is clear: proper brand strategy works. Here are six solid strategies that could help you get more brand for your buck.
1 – Preparation
Having a plan is always superior to flying by the seat of your pants. Craft a consistent brand strategy that allows you to establish metrics that can be evaluated. Did user traffic increase or decrease after a new slogan and campaign for the brand was introduced? Was the rate comparable to previous changes before and after the implementation? With no definable strategy in place, answering these questions is more difficult and much less tangible.
2 – Customer Involvement
We have previously discussed the effect customers can have on the development of a powerful, healthy brand. A strong branding strategy helps take advantage of this effect. Part of the reason people still use brand-name products when generic equivalents are available is the comfort of being able to identify with the brand. There often is a sense of satisfaction in taking Advil instead of generic ibuprofen, an identification with the ‘real thing.’ Taking the time and effort to develop your brand speeds this process up and expands its effects.
3 – Perception of Stability
A brand implies stability by its very nature. There is a name to associate with the product, an identity that comes to mind that people can point to. Brand strategy as a whole is an effort to cement this perception in reality. Emails with an official, tasteful letterhead, business cards with a company logo and contact information, company newsletters sent to update potential and current customers on important happenings: all of these elements can help keep your business top of mind and let people know the brand is there to stay.
4 – A Certain…Something
Brand strategy really allows the chance for a personal flair to be conveyed by a business. Coca Cola had their ‘Always the Real Thing’ campaign, using trendy music and playful imagery to convey a sense of fun and vitality in their product. A good branding effort appeals to people as much on this intangible level as a practical one. It allows the creative and the daring to come forward and capture customers’ attention, so that mention of the company is met with knowing smiles and understanding looks.
5 – Growing the Crop
Again, people tend to prefer a company with a brand name they can identify. They want the ability to point to a name and say, ‘I use…’ New clients and customers will gravitate toward names and brands they can remember when choosing a new investment or a new subscription, passing over more generic options in favor of one they can name and identify. A strong brand presence built out of proper online brand building strategy is one of the surest ways to continue bringing in new customers.
6 – One of a Kind
Referring again to Coca Cola, consider how many generic or equivalent cola products there are. Consider how many use red packaging on their aluminum cans. Yet how many of them have even a fraction of the success that Coca Cola enjoys? A brand sets your business apart from everyone else. Even if others offer equivalent services, your brand creates a distinct impression that allows people to separate it from the others when pressed for details.
Again, there is no one successful strategy that applies across the board. Even two sites offering ostensibly comparable services cannot rely on the same strategy because they may have entirely different approaches. The people involved in the business, the area marketed to, and the specific products involved can change many elements and require their own unique touches. However every business can benefit from having a solid online brand building strategy in place that helps address these needs.