Brand marketing is now on the rise, compared to older methods that seek to just get customers in the door. The overuse of sales and discounts have caused consumers to leave just as fast as they enter, creating a revolving door of customers. Large companies are noticing this trend and they're finding a way to retain their customer base. Should you follow their lead?
Gap and Adidas recently stated that they have been focusing too hard on performance-driven ads.
Teri List-Stoll, Chief Financial Officer of the Gap, said that the company has, “frankly become too heavily dependent on messaging around discounting as opposed to bigger-picture brand messaging.”
At an EffWeek conference in October 2019, Simon Peel, Adidas’ global media director, admitted that Adidas focused too much on ROI. This has lead to over-investing in performance marketing and it stifled their brand-building efforts.
Instead, companies are realizing that brand marketing should be their focus.
The answer is simple. Sales and discounts are not exclusive to any single company. And if that’s all that’s attracting customers, their loyalty lies with whoever has the lowest price.
This leads to battling with your competitors on the lowest pricing and instability, which is never a winning long-term strategy.
Without a strong brand, the customer cannot relate to the company. They have little reason to return for future purchases.
The Gap is now investing more in holiday designs and partnerships. And Adidas has changed its focus by introducing a more emotional brand marketing campaign. They intend to engage their customers on a deeper level.
If even the largest of companies cannot neglect brand marketing, what is it exactly and how can it help grow your business?
First, let’s define the word "brand".
When you think of your business, are you just a name or a logo? Are you just your products or services? Obviously, your business is much more than that. It has taken years to forge and develop what it is has become today. This is the essence of your brand.
Your brand encompasses everything that your company represents. It is the company’s identity which includes its mission, core values, culture, vision, and goals. But not every customer knows the story of your hard work and dedication.
This is why a brand helps to define how the company is perceived by the marketplace. A company’s brand explains why the company went into business. And it shows what makes its products and services unique.
Your brand becomes a personality that the audience can connect with on an emotional level. This is what influences future purchasing decisions by appealing to needs and desires. Now your customers don’t just come for sales and discounts, but for your brand - which is unique to you.
Brand marketing seeks to increase brand awareness and visibility. As a result, it elevates brand recognition.
How is this accomplished? You do this by expressing your company’s values and personality when communicating with its audience.
The goal here is not to make a direct sale. This is the complete opposite of direct response marketing. Instead of seeking to gain immediate results, brand marketing is a long term effort. It aims to influence customer decisions over time.
When customers clearly understand your values and personality, it’s easier for them to relate to you. This invites them to engage with your company’s culture. And it creates a unique bond that grows stronger over time. This gives your customers the feeling of being a part of your company’s future.
When you do brand marketing correctly, it supplies your business with steady customers that continue to use your products and services. Although this process of marketing takes a long time, the results are more stable. And it lessens the effects of a bad direct marketing campaign.
Imagine that you’re at work and have been working all day. You’ve been pushing yourself to meet a deadline and lost track of time. Your stomach starts rumbling so you check your watch.
To your surprise, it’s already three in the afternoon and you haven’t even eaten your first meal. You still have more work to do but your growling stomach won’t let you keep focused. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? A fast-food restaurant? Let’s say it’s McDonald's.
Your mind can immediately recall the reliable fast service and consistent food. And you can probably even smell French fries if you close your eyes. McDonald's may have influenced your purchasing decision without you even knowing it.
Do you see the power of strong brand marketing?
Your brand often represents the first interaction your prospect has with your business. This includes all experiences, good or bad.
A prospect may first hear about you from word of mouth. Wouldn’t you like to know what your customers are saying about you?
It's also possible they might not even be looking for a solution when it is first presented. Although they may not remember every word, they won’t forget how they felt.
Brand marketing allows you to leave a memorable impression on your prospects. Instead of leaving yourself to the mercy of others, it allows you to influence the way you wish to be perceived.
Every negative conversation has the potential to cause damage to your brand. It also decreases your revenue. This is why it is important to make every experience with your customers positive.
Without proper brand marketing, your company gets defaulted to the generic pile. And that’s not a good position for any company to be in. Instead of being the go-to solution for future purchases, you’re leaving yourself up to the odds.
By controlling how you are perceived, it also attracts your ideal customers.
Many of today’s customers like to make well-informed purchases. They research the quality of products and the trustworthiness of the company.
This requires more than just features and benefits. These customers don’t just think of purchases as simple transactions. They see your products as extensions of themselves. It is a significant part of their identity and the way that their friends and family view them.
In this sense, brand marketing is a bridge between the product and the customer. Your brand provides your customers with more comfort. It provides them with quick answers to questions of quality and trustworthiness.
These are the customers that truly appreciate your products and services. They are more likely to recommend you to family and friends.
So how does brand marketing work? You have to use a brand marketing strategy.
To build a brand marketing strategy, your business must first establish its mission. Why was your business created? What are your company’s goals?
These questions can be used to determine your core values. It will also help you to explain why you do what you do. Without clarity, it is difficult to communicate your intentions with certainty. And customers who do not understand your why are less likely to buy.
Next, which target audience do you want to serve? What are your target audience’s needs and desires?
Your audience cannot be vague. The more specific you are, the deeper the understanding you will have of your audience’s problems. When you can communicate this clearly to your audience, naturally they will trust that you have the solution.
After that, determine how you will differentiate yourself from your competitors. What makes you unique in the way that you deliver your products and services? When people hear your company name, what comes to mind? More importantly, how do you want your customers to feel?
Your customers may not remember everything you say, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. Make sure every interaction is positive.
Your brand marketing strategy must develop a consistent and recognizable brand personality. This personality must be visible throughout all company actions, from product quality and packaging to the tonality and style used for communication.
This also includes the internal operations and culture which extend to the customers. All forms of media such as posts, photos and ads must reflect the core values by using a consistent message.
When they can see and feel this at every customer touchpoint, the customer knows you are authentic. They will be able to identify your brand instantly and know exactly what it stands for.
Allstate and Nationwide both sell insurance. But it is how they provide their services that make them different. What is the difference between "You’re in good hands" and "Nationwide is on your side?" One makes the customer feel safe and protected. The other makes the customer feel reassured that someone is there to back them up.
Your brand marketing strategy must be flexible enough to adapt to current trends. But it must remain true to your company’s mission and message. Use feedback from your customers to refine your brand marketing strategy.
If your company makes a claim that is not delivered as expected, your customer will lose trust in your brand. Not every product or service has to be the highest quality. But it must deliver the result that the customer expects. You always want to leave them with a positive experience.
Brand marketing is an ongoing process that is crucial for a business to have longevity. It creates a consistent and recognizable brand personality that builds long term loyalty. These returning customers help to promote your company to your friends and family.
One element that is essential to executing good brand marketing is copywriters. Not just any copywriter, but one that understands your company’s vision and goals.
It takes time for a copywriter to understand your company’s personality and tone. But this is time well spent as they will be able to consistently express it through your marketing.
If you're looking for a copywriter to help with your brand messaging, you can start your search here.
Xavier Chang is a certified copywriter. He has a background in engineering and a passion for health and wellness.Hire Xavier