Branding is an underused and underappreciated marketing technique. Everyone is familiar with branding, of course, i.e., brand identity. But few marketers are proactively extending their branding efforts to produce more effective marketing.
"The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products."
Today's branding goes far beyond catchy names and clever logos. Digital branding is a far-reaching and impactful strategy that can catapult a brand from backwater oblivion to front page stardom.
Take this simple fact as an example: Google will rank your site higher based on how your brand is talked about, written about, and mentioned on off site content and social media. Such techniques are squarely within the reach of small businesses, not just big brands.
Take another example -- personal branding. Creating the right mix of messaging on the right platform can turn you into a well-known internet personality.
So, how do you do it? How do you make your brand a big deal? Try these tactics on for size.
1. Be human.
Brands must possess a human touch. Authenticity is more important today than ever before. Businesses have morphed from abstract corporate entities into tangible, intimate, and people-driven personalities.
Your brand will gain far more interaction if it can communicate true personality and a human touch through its brand and messaging.
2. Use visual content.
Visual content is one of the most significant factors in digital engagement. Just a cursory understanding of visual content will inform you that it's the difference between nobody noticing your content and everybody noticing your content.
How do you use visual content effectively? Here are a few tips:
- People are image-driven. Be present on the predominantly visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
- Visual imagery is key. Use visual imagery in your social media and content. On average, content with images gets 94% more views. It gets at least double the views of content with zero images.
- Consistency makes the difference. Stay consistent with your visual content. Using similarly themed images, filters, colors, or styles will create instant recognition and a memorable feel for your brand's image.
3. Create a unique voice for your content.
Content marketing is the greatest driver of brand awareness, so it only goes to prove the power of having the right voice. Your brand voice should match your marketing goals, and target your customer persona.
How do you create a unique voice?
- Start with your customer. Understand how to relate to your customer. What are her fears and desires? What words, concepts, and terms are familiar to her?
- Select content writers who can produce the right voice. Don't allow your content writers to hide behind the identity of the brand. Allow them to assert their own identity as individuals speaking on behalf of the brand. The content that your brand publishes in blog articles, for example, shouldn't be from some disembodied "admin" or your company name, but from the person who actually wrote it.
- Listen to feedback and adjust accordingly. Developing an accurate voice is more of a process than a formula. Continually reshape your voice based on how your customers respond.
Your voice takes some work to curate and maintain, but the results in terms of brand exposure and memorability are well worth it.
4. Inspire emotion everywhere you produce content.
Branding is more than just having a visual trademark, colors, or even a voice. Brands must harness emotion as well.
The concept is called emotional branding, and it's catching on in significant ways. Memory and decision-making are ruled by one's emotions. Emotions drive purchases, motivate action and help build loyalty.
Emotional branding works, which is why marketers are rushing to implement the concept into their efforts. How does the method of emotional branding play out? Here are a few examples:
- Belonging - The desire for belonging is one of a human's basic drives. A brand that fosters a sense of belonging among its customers can encourage loyalty. For those who are not customers, the desire to belong to a special group of people can increase their willingness to join.
- Competition - The trend of gamification in software and app development is built on the concept by the same name. Brands, too, can use this technique to build a sense of competitiveness, which stokes the emotions and drives people's decision-making.
- Excitement - Many brands use excitement as their chosen brand emotion. Excitement about a concept, brand, goal, identity, or anything else can create a halo effect around a brand, turning it into something to be desired and to be excited about.
Dale Carnegie, who knew a thing or two about business, was correct when he wrote,
"When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion."
Emotional branding can skyrocket your brand to unprecedented heights.
Branding is more than a logo and a slogan. Branding is a marketing force that destines your brand either for long term success or short term recognition.
The power of well-known brands like Apple and Coca-Cola didn't happen by simply creating an iconic logo or classic script. Instead, it took a lot of effort for these brands to shape the kind of human touch, visual power, unique voice, and emotion that can attract and engage an audience.
What branding strategies will you work on improving?