One of the first priorities in building your brand is to know who you are and why you matter before you uptake a brand strategy. I received some feedback on the post “12 Principles of Brand Strategy” and thought it would be important to discussion how to utilize strategy to achieve business goals. Whether you’re selling a product or a service you need to be able to articulate why you are doing what you set out to do. What’s the meaning behind your offer? Do you have a core belief in what it is that you do?
Too often businesses jump on strategy and tactics but forget the real character behind their brands. Strategy determines how to position your brand so you can optimize the brand experience you’re trying to emulate. If you aren’t clear with your brand’s attitude, don’t market, don’t advertise, don’t publicize – don’t communicate to the world because you will likely confuse your audience at the end.
When you start communicating, you put out signals about your brand. Your audience can’t help but to interpret them in an attempt to aggregate information about you, your personality and ultimately your reputation. It’s like meeting someone for the first time, your tone of voice, your body language and your choice of words are all part of your character from which all facets of your communication expands. Marketing simply provides different communication solutions to amplify your signals to position and differentiate your brand.
By defining a realistic and manageable promise (your brand value) you can then proceed to strategize on how you will fulfill them. If you want your target audience to see your offering as the only answer to their needs, you must meet or exceed their expectations. That’s what remarkable brands do. They align their brand value with their business strategy to create a winning brand strategy that’s authentic and meaningful.
In generate there are three major areas communication tactics:
Viral marketing, multi-level marketing, direct marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and integrated marketing are all forms of marketing in an attempt to influence an audience through direct communication. Why would you put in the effort to get everyone’s attention and not fulfill the expectations? People come to expect a specific experience that’s promised to them. As a brand you must learn to deliver across a multitude of marketing channels.
Coke Cola may have different advertising slogans, but around the world the company maintains the same focus on its core value: to ensure that everyone on Earth drank Coca-Cola as their preferred beverage. They kept their promise on the taste of their product but have utilized a variety of marketing tactics to reach their global audience.
Google, who rarely advertises, focus on their brand promise to “provide access to the world’s information in one click.” As you probably guess it, they did exactly that which is why Google didn’t have to spend heavily on advertising in marketing their search engine. In fact, when you deliver on your promise consistently and accurately to a specific need, you become the only solution in your target audience’s mind.
Advertising can be fun and interesting but it’s merely an attempt to influence through repeated communication. Whether you agree or not, we’re all voyeur seeking for adventurous experiences and brands are the perfect purveyors to fulfill that interest. This concept generates a gap between what’s expected and delivered.
I was not surprise when I came across a recent report by Harris Poll indicating that “Though advertisers and consumers both agree that amusing ads are effective and scary and guilt-inducing ads are not, they don’t see eye-to-eye on the efficacy of other types of advertising appeals.”
Although the poll may have some considerable bias, overall advertising professionals and the general public are out of sync. The problem is trying to pinpoint what the consumer say they want versus the “perceived effectiveness” as well as what exactly worked in sales conversions. This is also why advertising analytics are extremely important because as a communication tactic, it’s fairly expensive with relatively low conversion rates. And, let’s face it, results is what it’s all about.
Regardless of your advertising approach, you must first define the desirable outcome for the campaign according to your brand value then let your creative juices flow. Creativity is where it’s at, especially now with the convergence of media ads are everywhere and viewers have relatively short attention span.
Remember, a memorable ad may elevate your brand awareness, but it doesn’t necessary mean it will increase sales, it’s a great tactic that requires abundance of creativity. A great example would be a musical branding effort by Coke “omitting any reference to the brand in a catchy song it created,” and still, consumers were able to connect the song with the brand as it climbed to the top 40 Apple iTunes pop chart.
3 Public Relations:
Public relations or PR is the attempt to influence through third party communication in a positive light. Fundamentally, it’s reputation management while developing relationship with mainstream public as well as other organizations where communications exists. However, with the emerging trend in social media, PR now must take on an important element of this explosive platform – conversation.
PR helps in building brand loyalty so it is even more important to have meaningful conversation to further your authenticity. This is why brands are now turning to bloggers for PR needs but the key is transparency. According to research from Text 100, “Bloggers are big on transparency when it comes to marketer involvement. Between 85% and 89% of US bloggers agreed that they should acknowledge when a post has been written in return for some sort of compensation.”
The proper use of PR will boost your traffic and increase conversion rates. But keep in mind it can also go the other way. Look at Amazon’s product reviews and you’ll find that there are highly influential reviewers on there that can help drive the rank of a product up or down. And just like bloggers they have the power to endorse your brand with their signature on it. Their audience have come to expect their personal brand promise of a “proper review” thus anything less could jeopardize their reputation. Also a full disclosure of their intentions (compensation or benefits) would not damage their name. That’s the strength of brand authenticity built on a solid relationship.
The take away: As global communication and global business are now almost instantaneous, having the right brand strategy and identity is secondary. If you don’t define your brand promise, how would you go about managing your audience’s expectations?
How would you feel if you were promise something but it turns out to be something completely different?