Building a brand isn’t (just) about having a memorable name, a quirky advert, pretty visuals or a direct response (DR) bag of tricks.
As the marketing guru David Ogilvy said; a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” As digital marketers we have realised that we can impact the entire consumer journey that in turn makes consumers more likely to buy, repeat & refer over and above the competition (and without the need for always on deals and promotions).
My personal favourites that make me do this are Apple, Mulberry, Google, Orlebar Brown and Disney.
If you want to grow your sales/profit/valuation, without having to rely solely on your DR media mix then you need to grow your Brand.
Recommendation: Before digesting the below it might be worth reading more on the SOSTAC framework that underpins the 5 points listed.
To build a Brand online I believe you must:
1/ Research > define target audience(s) > lay the measurement foundations for success
Unless you are MASS market then you need to understand specific user needs/wants and then deliver against those needs/wants (tools that can help here include comScore, Google trends, TGI, Kantar, EMarketer, Euromonitor, Forrester, Nielsen and then closer to home data points include speaking to real people face to face, surveys, Google Trends & Adwords and generally analysing your own master data).
I’m just en route back from some business in Greece and I love the mantra I heard on this topic today…. “To be a bullfighter, you must first learn how to be a bull”
2/ Define what you want to say/understand what ‘they’ want to hear
Based on the research, and of course what you can realistically bring to market, then create your brand essence, tone of voice and taget audience profiles.
After that you can then create everything from your communications > content strategy whilst ensuring activity is measurable against KPI’s (where I currently work we use an advanced framework for KPI setting and measurement; more on that F2F 😉
3/ Develop a dynamic media mix
Follow a consumer journey / media mix model, such as the one I created, to understand how you can effectively disrupt and/or educate and/ or engage with your target consumers.
A key here to brand building is to balance your media mix; it is for example too easy to put all your money into ECRM or affiliate marketing as they naturally have low direct CPA’s and high direct ROI however without thinking of your brand you would be less likely to engage in other channels such as user need based content, SEO outreach, programmatic display and social media….
4/ Listen > Engage > Focus on building reputation, affinity, reciprocity and Trust
Whilst social media is key for engagement (listen and learn before doing anything then experiment with > message type, frequency, measurement of success, which channels are right for your brand/product/audience, provide valuable and shareable content > what does this all mean for REAL engagement?! etc) it is also key that you do not forget the wider CRM mix.
Areas such as membership programmes, email, bots, live streaming, etc are key in building your brand, aiding engagement, your reputation, affinity and trust
As can be seen from my consumer journey / marketing model the outside marketing forces (above and below the line) are joined by user network / friend referral and influencers.
Referrals/reviews/peer to peer recommendations + influencer recommendations (try networks such as Brandnew, famebit, magiclinks, takumi and Tribe + do not forget to foster your own more organic tier 3 influencer database) are becoming ever more important in today’s society where consumers are becoming smarter and less easily persuaded by ‘talk at you’ marketing. This point around engagement and why someone buys from you rather than a competitor leads nicely on to…
Trust. I’ve written about Trust in detail before (hence read that post to understand what constitutes trust and how to maximise it). For you to build your brand you MUST have high levels of trust from your target audience or you will struggle to resonate, grow and your activity will not flow…
5/ Flow. Data > Creative > Romance > Agile feedback loop
To power and underpin the above you need to blend philosophies that are sometimes non-natural bed fellows; those of Data > Creative > Romance
In today’s advanced marketing environment you must use data to power targeting and decision making however without excellent creative (everything from visual impact > big data backed interactive infographics that empower your community and aid trust and affinity) your endeavours will be digital wallpaper.
In regards to the ‘romance’ element in the above title; it sounds a tad twee (particularly coming from a person who has roots in Direct Marketing) however I was really impacted at a talk I attended by Tim Leberecht on being a ‘Business Romantic’
Leberecht believes you should not over rely on data to make decisions / connections and instead also believe in your creative & marketing gut to ensure your engagements are real…. “people will forget what you did and said; but not how you made them feel”.