In recent times, there has been a shift from product planning to brand management. Well, this is because consumers buy brands and not products; it is not possible to form a mental association with a product. Every organization wants to have a good brand because the concept of branding as a strategic asset seems to have permeated the business world. Brand Marketing
When people hear the word “brand”, it is often synonymous with words like “company name”, “slogan”, “logo”, “distinct mark” and so much more. In today’s world, branding encompasses all these and so much more and goes to show how important it really is; from your logo to your phone answering skills to your complaints handling system to associations with your staff. It provides answers to who you are as a business, your target customers, the problem you intend to solve and what makes you different from others. The idea behind branding is firmly rooting the mindset that you are the sole provider of the solution your customers need to a particular problem they have and not just getting them to select you above others.
Branding As a Strategic Asset
With so many definitions and arguments as to what branding entails and what it does not, the common ground they all stand firmly on is the recognition of a brand as a strategic asset. This is because your typical product has a life cycle that will definitely have a downward slope into product decline. Now, on the other hand, a brand lives longer than a product which is why it is highly essential and necessary.
The relationship between products and brands can be likened to a complimentary one. Products are just “products” but the infusion of value, saliency, differentiability, trust, and dependability turns your product into a brand. Branding makes your offering valuable and raises it above competing products. A brand is that name that will always ring a bell even in your subconscious, influencing the choices of consumers.
There is a particular quote from Scott Goodson I stumbled on during my research and I think it aptly summarizes the content of this section. “No one cares about your brand. It is not important. It is not invited anywhere but to your company picnic. That is unless you can make the brand relevant to people’s lives. To the way they understand things…No one cares about your brand unless you find a way to speak to why you care about it”.
“A bit harsh”, you may say, but true! This is the reason why promising brands often lose their hold on the market and fall in so short a time. Do you want to turn your brand into a strategic asset? Continually and consistently make your brand a name that solves people’s problem and is relevant to their lives. As e-commerce store owners, the moment you lose focus of this is the moment you start a rocky decline, and it will be difficult to head back up again.
Importance of Branding
The brand is what remains in the minds of the consumer even after your product has been used, turning customers and employees alike into loyal ambassadors. This should give you an inkling of how important branding is.
The result of branding is loyalty which is not easily gotten except through continuous innovation, quality product and service offerings and a dedication to surpassing customers’ expectations. Every successful product out on the market is being backed up by a trustworthy brand. The recognition that branding offers increases confidence in the brand and provides positive associations with the brand; effectively differentiating yours from zillions out there.
Through branding, customers can have a connection to your business. The elements, words, signs, creativity, color among others make it easy for customers to have a mental picture of your company in their minds. On the other hand, branding provides a direction for your employees, who are the point of contact between your business and your customers. A clear branding strategy points the direction your business is headed and informs the way they act and how hard they work to meet company’s goals and objectives.
A good brand creates a ripple-buzz effect. We all know people love to tell stories about their experiences. Customers wear brands, drink brands, and listen to brands and basically have relationships with brands that occupy a space in their mind. It is easier telling people about the brands they love; hence, converting prospects into buyers, generating referrals and creating free unpaid buzz and referrals.
Investors do not invest in products; they invest in brands because of the goodwill and business credibility a strategic tool like branding affords.
Figuring Out Your Brand Identity
Don’t get all confused when you hear terms like “brand identity” and “brand personality”. Your brand identity should be infused into your brand personality and should clearly communicate one message. In simple words, they should work hand in hand. While a brand identity includes all forms of communication and visuals like colors, logos, symbols amongst others attributed to your company; brand personality encompasses all emotional and associative characteristics connected to a company
Make no mistake about this; no brand personality is better than another. You just have to apply consistency. It does not matter the size of your company, brand personality can apply to anyone with a web presence and effectively harnessing this is a way of building your brand.
Your brand identity is seen as who you are as a brand and what you are bringing to the table for your customers. I admit, it sounds easy but it is so serious that once a brand misses it, the result can be quite devastating.
You need to figure out your brand identity because it is an important key to growing your business. I mean, it is basically what your business stands for, it influences to a great extent how customers perceive you as a brand. The first step is to look at others in your chosen niche and be attentive to what they are communicating about themselves.
These times are highly competitive. There is need to study your competition and leverage on the weaknesses observed so you have strong points to convince your customers that they should trust you are doing it better than they can get elsewhere. Doing this will help you have an idea on how to create a structure that matches your needs and will take your business to greater heights.
You need to clearly state your core values and make it evident in your actions. You need to set standards on which your business will be run. Even as a store owner, you are a customer, so you need to deliver what you expect to receive.
Popular Digital Marketing Channels To Grow Your Brand
With technology changing like the speed of light, there is need to be proactive and stay on top of your game if you are to survive in competitive times like this. Today’s customers are actually much more demanding than before; they want real engagement that is convenient and modern. That is where digital channels come into play, helping a brand achieve reach on a global scale in real-time scaling trough boundaries presented by the traditional means.
Digital channels include an email campaign, Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Vimeo amongst others; some of which will be discussed below.
For e-commerce business owners looking to generate traffic to their site and increasing sales, Google AdWords is a tool that can help you achieve results. Contained within this platform include tools and features that offers personalization and proper targeting of your advertisement to the right customers who need it at the time they need it. Some would even argue that it is more result-oriented than the Search engine optimization.
Some research conducted suggests that your website is the electronic gate of your brand. However, a website should not be used in isolation; it requires consistent marketing efforts like search engine optimization, social media amongst others to complement efforts. Websites suggest the credibility of a brand to customers.
If you are internet-savvy, you cannot deny the immense benefits of search engine optimization (SEO) in boosting your brand through the use of activities like organic link building, on-page, and off-page optimization and so on. This can be outsourced as it will help increase your online visibility and help you rank higher in customers’ search results. Affiliate marketing strategy is a strategy that can increase traffic to your site by the actions of a third party with the payment of certain percentages in commission for every sale obtained.
You can also explore online public relations which helps give your brand exposure in public relations that are online. It is free to join for some while for others; you pay subscription fees before you can publish press releases about your product or service.
If you haven’t incorporated email marketing into your top digital channels, you should re-evaluate your list again! Research has shown that emails are a more preferred option to social media channels as a result of the effectiveness of its customer target, often indicated by customers signing up newsletters or supplying their contact details in surveys and so on. Contrary to the popular belief that it is outdated, it really isn’t and you can pass your message across with low costs per lead. So, don’t just send emails, do more justice to it by advertising your brand with it!
Everyone is getting their social media game on, evidenced by the increase in smartphone usage. Little wonder why it is an important digital channel to expand your reach and target people of all ages, sizes, denominations, connected together by social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Snapchat amongst others. Why wouldn’t it be? Setting up company profile is free and easy to navigate.
There is need to create attention-grabbing contents and maximize social presence on these social media platforms to engage customers, create awareness and drive traffic to your site. In recent times, there has been an increase in the demand for videos as opposed to pictures, hence video marketing. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million stories. With faster internet solutions and increase in live streaming, video marketing can engage your customers and deliver your messages clearly with demonstrations.
The features of these platforms can be optimized to communicate to prospects that have higher chances of being converted to customers.
Using Digital Marketing Channels to Grow Customer Engagement
Before you get frustrated at the failures of your digital channels at achieving desired results, hold on a little bit. You have to be effective at these channels and doing so requires paying attention to certain areas in order to be more effective.
Who are my customers? You need to know your customers before you can select the best digital channel for your marketing activities. It will be a total waste of time channeling marketing efforts to the right customers through the wrong media. The goal here is meaningful interaction with your customers and how best it can be achieved.
How do I select the right digital channel? It is highly necessary to select the best channels that will help you achieve your goals. There is a need for a proper review of the performance of previous channels used against returns. Getting it right is crucial.
To do this, you must properly define the goals you want to achieve via the use of digital marketing channels which could be brand awareness, sales and lead generation, traffic generation amongst others. Your budget should be considered as well as the personnel you have on the ground and their competencies which might differ. You can carry out tests on your selected channels within a time frame to know which is most effective to allocate costs more efficiently.
The beauty of digital marketing channels is the swift response it affords, making communication easier. The success of communication is not in the talking but also in the listening; it is a two-sided experience. How well do you listen to your customers? You need to engage customers on your digital marketing channels, listen to their needs and take their feedback into consideration; building lasting relationships with them.
How well do I personalize my offerings? As e-commerce store owners, the increase in technology brings with it ease in personalizing your messages on any digital marketing platform you decide to use. With personalization, your message stands out from the crowd and makes the customers feel special.
Building Your Brand: What to Do?
Of course, we know that Rome was not built in a day. Just in the same way, brands do not become well-known brands in a day. It requires hard work to infuse all the qualities and features that make a brand stand out from the crowd of competing brands out there. And this number keeps growing every single day!
What then can you as e-commerce store owners do to build a brand that will stand the test of time?
First of all, there is a need for you to identify your target customers. This will help you package your offerings and tailor it to their specific needs in a way that will surpass their expectations. You need to know them like the back of your hands; know what makes them tick! This includes details of their demographics, their best touch points and the problem of you can solve for them.
Never underestimate the power of content in your marketing campaigns, be it physical channels or online channels. Contents are informative and can be seen as the fuel that drives your marketing effort. Contents help to build brands; hence a content strategy must be mapped out in order to inspire a purchase action.
A well-crafted and attention-grabbing content will be useless if it is not consumed and this is where your digital marketing channels come in. You need to select the channels you can maintain presence and visibility effectively. Doing this means selecting the channels where your target audiences spend most of their time. Of course, consistency has to be applied here in order to build confidence and trust.
As a store owner, you should have indexes to check if your branding efforts are working and producing results. When you have outlined desired outcomes you expect, it is easier knowing if you are headed in the right direction. Do you need more leads? Do you need more awareness? If you have increased followers on your social media channels, for instance, it means your goal of increased awareness is being fulfilled. Furthermore, activities that increase traffic to your site can be monitored and tracked through Google Analytics.
Building your brand entails ensuring your company is people’s go-to for their needs. You can evaluate your brand by addressing questions on the uniqueness of offerings, customer values promised, connection to the target audience, ease in understanding contents as well as the satisfaction element. Answering questions on each of these and more will go a long way in building and develop your brand. Of course, if the answers are in the negative, you need to go back to your blueprints and make adjustments to turn the negatives into positives.
The only constant is that times are changing and diversity in marketing is your best bet to achieve your goals. Customers are not just buying products; they want to be associated with brands that are value-oriented and will deliver on their promises. Hence, you have to strive to deliver on your brand promises and create experiences for the consumers in a way that makes a customer unashamedly share those experiences. For example, Apple has perfected this and turned their customers into Apple-fanatics.
There is a need for your brand and business to maintain a very strong online presence to help you stay competitive and expand reach across different people. With digital marketing channels, there are new opportunities being created which would not be possible with the traditional channels. It is in your hands to utilize these opportunities by carefully selecting the channel(s) that will best suit your purpose. Some of these digital marketing channels will be applicable to your business while some will not be. Brand Marketing
The best approach for a digital marketing campaign will be a combination of the channels in order to supplement the weakness of one with the strength of another as opposed to complete dependency on only one channel for your desired results. Brand Marketing
Finally, for you to be successful as a business owner, you have to recognize and understand the importance of branding and make it work to your advantage. Your visual image, marketing materials, advertising and packaging designs and overall web presence should be done with consistency in mind. Remember, your brand is the face of your business to the world. Without consistency, you create different faces and no particular one will stick to their mind.