Simple Branding Strategies That Get You 80% Of The Way
With many things in life, you can get 80% of the benefit with only a few simple changes. There are many beneficial activities where there are expert practitioners, but the average person can get most of the benefits with small time investment. For examples: exercise, meditating, networking and more.
Not everyone needs to be a marketing expert. BMB exists to make branding experts out of those who want to be, but we recognize that many people, including our consulting clients (!), cannot be experts in branding but need to make sure their company receives the benefits of brand marketing.
Examples. This could be your side hustle, and you can’t dedicate any more of your mornings, evenings and weekends to it. You could be a business owner that has enough on their plate managing finances and the day to day. You could be a marketer who focuses on things other than branding, like marketing automation, and only need to know the basics of branding and not the nuances.
You can get eighty percent of the benefit of brand marketing by only changing four things about how you operate. Two are changes in mentality, and two are long-term habits to get into. It could not be easier.
Buying is Emotional
Always keep in mind that buying decisions are not entirely rational.
Recognize that all buying decisions are in part or wholly emotional. Decisions are being made on emotions even in the most technical buying decisions. Someone sourcing a server to mount in their server farm is influenced by the appearance, personality, and confidence of the salesperson walking them through the tech specs.
Some purchase decisions are completely emotional, like chocolate bars or fragrances. If there is a spectrum between somewhat emotional and fully emotional, then reputation, presentation, and connotations will matter with every purchase decision.
I come across many companies that believe their purchasing decision is entirely rational, and they think this exempts them from evening thinking about creating a meaningful brand. There are reasons not to brand your company, but this is not one of them.
When you start thinking of your customers purchase as emotional, then you start thinking about how you visually present yourself, what are the feelings your brand connotates, and how easy and enjoyable is the purchase experience. These are good thoughts to have and thinking these things through will put you ahead of your competition.
Your Brand is an Asset
Change the equation by valuing your brand as an asset.
Businesses have assets such as machinery, land, materials, etc. Businesses own all of these things because they will be used to make money in the future. They have a value based on how important they are to the business’ future sales and profits.
A business’ brand is no different. It contributes to future money making just like any other asset and has a monetary value based on how much contribution to the bottom line it makes. Tesla’s brand is just as instrumental to their sales as their machines that make batteries in the Gigafactory. Your organization’s brand has a value because it does contribute to future sales and profits. That value is called brand equity and can be hard to measure, but it is very real.
Investments in customer experience, design, and marketing are appreciating the asset that is your brand equity. Maintenance of assets like a website and staying in touch with past customers keeps your brand asset from depreciating. The asset that is your brand should grow and grow until it is your number one asset, and the one most exclusive to your company.
Another reason a brand is an asset is that it can be bought, sold and licensed. Ramez Toubassy talked about the modern business model of owning the brand and nothing else. These companies let all the physical plant, account receivables, HR, etc. be managed by some other company. The brand asset holder is just concentrating on growing the brand and cashing cheques.
There is no point branding if you solve the same problem in the same way as everyone else.
Branding is most useful for an organization that is memorably different. There is no point in branding a company that has exactly the same product and service and exactly the same messaging its competition.
- Solve a unique problem. If that isn’t possible, move on to number 2.
- Solve an established problem in a unique way. If that isn’t possible, move on to number 3.
- Uniquely present an existing solution to an established problem.
Clearly, the best thing is to solve a problem that no one has ever solved. Almost all of the established brands we see at the store or on ads grew from nothing to prominence by solving a unique problem. A “good enough” effort is to solve an established problem in a new way. “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. But a “fine” solution is to present an existing solution to a known problem in a new way, or maybe to an audience that doesn’t know about it. For example, DC Shoes took cushioning technology from sports shoes and presented it to skaters.
Be different, and spend some time defining what that difference is. When customers come to you instead of your competition, what do they expect you to deliver? Writing it down will make you more consistent at providing that difference, and that will build your brand.
Your brand will only be recognizable if it is consistent.
Do you have that friend who is continually changing their appearance? If not, maybe you are that person in your friend group! It is hard to connect with people who regularly change their appearance because you don’t know what to expect and you can’t get a grasp on who they are. They also may be hard to recognize.
If you are doing the three other things, you are building your brand equity. But if your brand is inconsistent, then you cannot capitalize on your brand equity because people will not recognize it as the same brand.
To leverage your brand equity, your company needs to keep its logo, colors, fonts, and general look and feel very consistent.
Every piece of the brand needs to have the same feeling. Your company’s graphics cue those feelings assuming they are consistent. When someone sees a logo, they remember the emotions they saw it previously. And remember that buying is emotional; that cue of emotions can increase the likelihood of a sale, and that is capitalizing on your brand equity.
But if the all of the graphics are constantly changing, year to year, then no one is going to recognize it to recall their positive memories, just like the friend who is constantly changing his or her appearance.
If you do and think about those four things as you operate your business or organize your group, you will get eighty percent of the benefit of brand marketing without needing to go any deeper.
None of that should seem that challenging. Jim Rohn said: “To be successful you don’t need to do extraordinary things. You just need to do ordinary things, extraordinarily well.”