Effective branding in business is not just a 'nice to have' but is a necessity. Big brands often leverage common, low-hanging strategies to establish their presence. Yet when everyone's reaching for the same fruit, the marketplace quickly becomes saturated.
That is where unique, potent branding strategies must come into play. To truly stand out and resonate with customers, you need to reach higher. To get the results you want from effective branding, you need to take a fresh look at your branding and explore how you rise above the crowd.
Common big brands branding strategies
Low-hanging branding strategies are those easy-to-implement techniques companies utilise to increase their visibility and recognition. These tactics typically require less effort and financial investment but can still generate substantial returns, making them popular amongst big brands.
Take the use of logos as an example. Brands like Apple and Nike have crafted iconic logos, instantly recognisable worldwide. These visuals are a quick and easy way to evoke brand identity.
Another common strategy that big brands often go after is repetitive advertising. You often see these ads repeated in TV commercials or billboards. Brands like McDonald's utilise this approach to frequently expose consumers to the same message to imprint their products and services into consumers' minds.
Celebrity endorsements are another tactic that brands like Nike and Pepsi like to use. Associating a product with a beloved public figure can create credibility and appeal.
Product placement, where brands like Apple or Mercedes subtly insert their products into popular movies or TV shows, can promote a brand indirectly, yet effectively.
Lastly, social media campaigns have become a powerful tool in this digital age, providing a platform to engage directly with consumers while creating and spreading brand narratives.
The shortcomings of common branding strategies
Big brands maximise their efforts on low-hanging branding opportunities because these strategies are often simpler to implement. They require fewer resources and can quickly yield significant returns. This makes them a tempting choice for immediate gains in visibility and recognition.
While these strategies can be effective, they also come with pitfalls, especially when big brands overemphasise them at the expense of more innovative approaches.
One downside is the repetitive nature of these strategies — leading to brand fatigue. Although television and social media ads may initially grab a viewer's attention, they can become predictable and monotonous over time. This can lead to diminishing returns over time and even annoyance amongst consumers.
Additionally, as more brands use these techniques, they can contribute to an oversaturated market. Logos, celebrity endorsements, social media campaigns and product placements are almost universally utilised. In a market flooded with similar strategies, it is all too easy for a brand to become lost in the shuffle. It can dilute the effectiveness of those approaches and make it harder for brands to distinguish themselves.
That is why constantly evolving, experimenting and innovating is more effective in staying relevant in a competitive market.
Powerful branding strategies to implement in your business
Consider exploring the unique branding tactics below to make your small business stand out.
1. Embrace innovation and creativity
To carve out a distinctive brand identity, implementing innovation and creativity is key. Innovative approaches, whether in product design, packaging or service delivery, can set your brand apart from the crowd. Consider the use of nameplates - a design element often overlooked.
For example, a creatively designed nameplate can enhance product appearance and boost brand visibility and recall. Furthermore, small brands should consider building a culture of innovation in their team to encourage creative thinking for more ground-breaking ideas. Achieving this can start by creating an open, inclusive work environment that encourages and rewards new ideas.
You can also facilitate brainstorming sessions but allow room for failure as a natural part of the creative process. Valuing and investing in your team's creative input can foster a continuous stream of fresh ideas and propel your brand towards uniqueness and growth.
2. Harness authenticity and storytelling
Authenticity resonates with consumers because it fosters trust and loyalty. Pair this with compelling storytelling, and you share your journey, mission and values that define your brand.
TOM Shoes, for example, has woven its "one for one" charity initiative into its brand narrative. It created an emotional bond with customers who feel their purchase makes a difference. By weaving authenticity and storytelling into your branding initiatives, you sell more than a product - you invite consumers to be part of your brand's story.
This strategy can leave a lasting impact on consumers, turning them into brand ambassadors because they will advocate for your products due to shared values and emotional connections. To implement this, ensure you have established your core values and reflect them in every asset of your business.
Then, weave these values into a relatable narrative that consumers can connect with, ensuring you communicate your message consistently across all marketing channels.
3. Leverage personalisation
The rise of personalised marketing signifies a shift in how businesses approach their customers. Rather than generic messaging, personalisation aims to tailor products, services and experiences to individual customers, thereby boosting engagement and loyalty.
For instance, online retailers often personalise their recommendations based on browsing history, while restaurants may offer customised menus to regular patrons. These personalised experiences make customers feel valued and understood, leading to deeper connections.
Small businesses can leverage this trend by employing data-driven marketing strategies. By utilising tools that analyse customer behaviour, preferences and demographics, companies can design personalised messaging and experiences. Also, small businesses can create customised experiences offline through outstanding customer service, tailored product offerings and unique in-store experiences.
4. Create meaningful connections
Creating meaningful connections with customers goes beyond transactions — it is about building relationships. Customers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that value their engagement and build a community.
Social media is a powerful tool for this. Brands can use platforms like Instagram or Twitter to interact with customers directly, answer questions and share user-generated content. This two-way communication humanises your brand and strengthens customer relationships.
Strategies for building community could include hosting events or webinars, creating loyalty programs, or maintaining an engaging blog that resonates with your audience. For example, you could feature stories or tips relevant to your audience, showcasing customers' experiences, or discussing issues important to your industry. By doing this, you create content that informs and resonates, encouraging further interaction and loyalty.
5. Think local, act global
Small businesses possess a unique advantage - a strong local identity. Small companies leverage this authentic connection to build strong customer loyalty and differentiation. However, thinking beyond local boundaries can open doors to a wider audience.
Global reach can mean something other than losing local charm. Businesses can achieve balance by keeping their local identity while adapting their branding strategies to resonate with a broader demographic. This tactic might involve tailoring marketing messages to cater to different cultures, tastes and values.
Starbucks, for instance, maintains its Seattle-born identity while offering regional menu items tailored to various international markets. Hence, blending local authenticity with global appeal can yield a compelling brand narrative that resonates on a worldwide scale.
How to create an effective branding strategy
Creating an effective branding strategy is a systematic process that requires thoughtful planning and execution:
- Know your audience:Understand your target audience and define your unique selling proposition (USP). Knowing who your customers are and what sets your brand apart allows you to tailor your branding efforts to resonate with your intended audience.
- Establish a clear and consistent brand identity:This extends beyond your logo to encompass everything from your colour scheme and typography to your tone of voice and overall brand personality.
- Craft a compelling brand story and messaging:Your brand story should effectively communicate your brand's values, mission and vision, creating an emotional connection with your audience.
- Choose the right marketing channels to reach your audience: These can range from social media and email marketing to traditional advertising and public relations.
- Implement and measure:Implement your branding strategy, measure its effectiveness, and refine it based on results and feedback. Branding is an ongoing process, and continual optimisation is key to maintaining a strong and relevant brand in a dynamic marketplace.
Securing your brand's future by going beyond low-hanging strategies
When the competition is high, moving beyond low-hanging branding strategies is paramount. While they may provide initial gains, unique and thoughtful strategies can result in long-term brand success.
The approaches above will allow you to stand out and resonate with your audience. When integrating them into your branding strategy, you create a narrative and experience that customers want to connect with. Remember, a strong brand does more than merely survive — it thrives, grows and leaves a lasting impact.
Copyright 2023. Featured post made possible by Eleanor Hecks, founder and managing editor of Designerly Magazine. She's also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience and user interface.