What are the 5 components of a successful branding strategy?
- Have a Clear Vision for Your Brand.
- Maintain Consistent Messaging Across Platforms.
- Extend the Brand throughout the Company.
- Create an Emotional Connection to the Brand.
- Nurture Loyalty for the Brand.
Branding is one of those concepts like “equality” or “justice” or “success.” It’s hard to define and even harder to break out into its individual components of branding. If you asked 100 marketers what a successful branding strategy is, you’d probably get 100 different definitions. In fact, when asked that very question, successful marketing strategists and SEO experts have provided widely varying answers.
Some view elements of a strong brand strategy in terms of tangibles, like logo, website, packaging design and product. Count among this group the American Marketing Association (AMA), which defines branding as “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Others argue successful branding strategies are more about intangibles, like perceptions, brand promise, brand positioning and opinion shaping. For example, Ashley Friedlein at Econsultancy calls branding “the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.” Said differently, for AMA, branding is defined by its creator. For Friedlein, branding is in the eye of the beholder.
So What Is Branding?
Branding isn’t just about logos and symbols, or about perceptions and opinions only. It isn’t defined solely by marketers or only by consumers. Branding and the components of a successful brand are about both marketers and consumers. A successful brandings strategy is about the relationship that’s formed between a business and its customers. It’s about the way a company forges that relationship by consistently meeting its customers’ needs and wants, clearly defining its purpose and building trust and loyalty by always keeping its promises.
The Best Brands Are Best Friends
If someone asked you why someone is your best friend, you probably wouldn’t say it’s because he’s successful, or a good dresser, or a great bowler. You’d say it’s because he’s always there when you need him, he makes you feel better about yourself, and he’s a really good listener.
That’s what branding is all about. People don’t buy a Harley over some cheaper motorcycle just because it’s a great bike. They buy a Harley-Davidson because the company makes them feel like they’re part of a community of bikers. They don’t buy IKEA only because it makes great, inexpensive furniture. They buy IKEA because the company promises to “create a better everyday life” for its customers, and then keeps that promise. Each brand personality for major brands is easy to identify. That’s the result of long-term branding strategy building an easy to recognize brand identity. So keep that in mind with your own marketing efforts.
The 5 Components of Every Successful Branding Strategy
Successful businesses rely on different marketing strategies to roll out their brands, from search engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising to display advertising, social media campaigns and live chat. Every successful branding strategy, however, consists of common elements to build and maintain a relationship of trust with customers.
Here are 5 key elements common to every successful branding strategy:
Vision: why are you in business?
The obvious answer is “to make money.” But aren’t there other reasons? Perhaps it’s also because you like helping people and feel good when a satisfied customer calls to thank you. Maybe it’s because you like the people who work for you, and like watching them succeed along with you. Chances are, your business means more to you than money. You need to formalize whatever that reason is in a vision statement. Your vision statement tells employees and customers alike who you are and what your purpose is. It expresses your business strategy and your core values directly to your target audience.
Consistent Messaging: what are you saying about your business?
Once you’ve settled on the purpose of your business, you need to craft messages which clearly and consistently communicate that purpose to your target customers. When you think “Geico,” you automatically think “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance,” but also funny commercials, and of course the gecko. Consistency is about the branding elements found in your business’ logos, design, words used your marketing materials, and more. Above all, it’s about all the positioning statements that form the pieces of your message working seamlessly together to build your brand voice. Coca-cola has a distinct voice, as does Apple. You are on the same path with your business to build a brand name people remember. To help ensure consistency, consider creating a style guide which clearly outlines not only your logo and slogan, but also acceptable color schemes, fonts, and tone – your brand architecture.
Extending Brand throughout the Company: who are you and your employees?
A style guide is a great start to ensuring consistent communications, but it’s ineffective if your employees don’t adequately communicate. Your employees can be your greatest asset in communicating your brand, or they can scuttle your best efforts with one bad customer exchange. Make sure everyone in your company is fully aware of your brand and understands how to talk to customers to convey it. They are your de facto marketing team, and all great brands are made stronger with the support of the employees.
Emotional Connection: where is your brand most powerful?
The old maxim that people justify purchase decisions based on logic, but make those purchases based on emotion is true. Emotion sells. Think of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid’s Saving Wildlife commercials. The emotions viewers feel watching those ads become part of the company’s brand. Some potent emotional triggers are those which arouse sympathy, give people a sense of belonging and make their lives easier. Your brand voice becomes the conduit for your brand story. You want your customer base to feel something when they see your logo or hear your company name. No matter if it’s b2c or b2b buyers react to powerful emotions and good brand strategy delivers that power to your business.
Nurturing Loyalty: How strong is your brand?
According to a competitive analysis by Hubspot, 15% of a company’s most loyal customers constitute 70% of total revenues, and 80% of future revenues will come from 20% of current customers. Successful branding strategies nurture loyalty by thanking their customers and telling them they’re special with loyalty rewards like discounts and special gifts.
Marketers may differ on exactly what branding is, but all agree on one thing: when two companies are competing with one another, all things being equal, the one which has the stronger brand will be more successful reaching, converting and retaining customers. Your brand is the promise you make to those customers. To be sure your brand is working for you, your best bet is to work closely with a full-service digital marketing agency.
To learn more about the ways the Results Driven Marketing team can help you build a branding strategy that works, visit our website or call us today at 215-393-8700.
Note: This Post was originally written on April 26, 2017, but has been updated on July 26, 2018.