by Alistair Norman, contributor to Business 2 Community
Essential aspects of building a lasting and impactful brand
Brand is the subject of countless books, articles, webinars, talks, courses, podcasts, and any other form of media you choose to think of. Everybody knows the importance of having a strong brand strategy, but it remains a tough job to achieve.
Get it right, and you unlock lasting customer engagement, higher acquisition rates, greater loyalty, and ongoing commercial success. Get it wrong, and the future looks pretty gloomy.
What is a brand strategy?
Brand strategy can be defined as: “A plan that encompasses specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand — the combined components of your company’s character that make it identifiable.”
Your brand strategy should:
- Be clearly defined and articulated
- Affect all parts of the organization
- Have a direct link to customer needs
- Not be confined to design and visual elements like your logo — these are just one expression of the brand
5 key aspects of a strong brand strategy
Now, let’s explore a series of crucial components to consider when building and strengthening your brand strategy.
What drives your organization to do what it does? We’re not talking about the basic business imperative to turn a profit here. That is a functional thing that goes without saying. Instead, brand purpose is the intention or aspiration of your brand. In loftier terms, what are you trying to change about your industry, your customers’ lives, or the world?
Already well established in B2C, purpose is of growing importance for B2B brands. 85% of B2B marketers consider purpose “important to their business”, and 57% have increased their focus on it.
Define your purpose in order to tell a stronger brand story and build more meaningful connections with customers.
Brand consistency is crucial to building recognition and long-term engagement. Every activity, item of content, project, customer interaction, and so on must align with the brand. Anything that departs from it creates confusion for customers and dilutes the brand message.
This requires discipline and a strong understanding of the brand in all departments. Company-wide collaboration and employee involvement is essential. Branding is too important to be left siloed in the marketing department.
Develop clear vision, mission, messaging and branding guidelines and ensure these are consulted throughout the organization to keep all activity on brand.
It’s not enough to just be clear and consistent. A really strong brand must make people feel something. Again, this applies to B2B brands, not just to B2C ones. The traditional thinking that all B2B decision making is focused on business outcomes is being increasingly challenged.
In fact, B2B buyers take personal factors and emotion into account, and this can lead to surprising outcomes, as revealed in a Google/Gartner/Motista study of 3,000 B2B buyers:
“B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product when they see personal value for them in the form of confidence in their choice – or a positive impact on their career. They’re also 8x more likely to pay a premium for that product.
“Most B2B marketing focuses on the value that a solution provides to the business – but the Motista study shows that B2B buyers actually struggle to differentiate between potential suppliers on this basis. They assume that all have roughly equivalent value to add. The real differentiator is the emotional benefit they personally feel from making a particular choice.”
Jane Fleming, LinkedIn
Make sure your brand connects emotionally with prospects and customers, to avoid being seen as equivalent to your competitors.
While maintaining overall brand consistency is important, achieving longevity also relies on the ability to remain fresh and relevant. It’s a tricky but crucial balancing act. A brand that changes constantly loses any clear identity. But a brand that never adapts and evolves risks fading into irrelevance.
“In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. On the plus side, this frees you to be creative with your campaigns. Flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.”
Carly Stec, Hubspot
Incorporate some flexibility into your brand approach to keep it exciting and engaging, but keep overall consistency in mind.
The true hallmark of a strong and lasting brand is customer loyalty. The biggest household names have mastered the art of cultivating a sense of allegiance with their audience. In the technology space, for example, think Apple, Linux, Adobe, and Oracle, to name a few.
You should foster and encourage customer loyalty by identifying and rewarding those people who keep returning to your brand. You can do this in a range of ways, from simple thank-you emails recognising their commitment, to a loyalty program that rewards returning customers.
These brand advocates should be given a voice to express their support via reviews and testimonials, which you can showcase, and through a referral program to drive acquisition of more loyal customers. One study found that referrals from a loyal customer had a 92% retention rate, compared to 68% for a customer acquired from advertising.
Encourage brand loyalty by identifying, showcasing, and rewarding loyal customers.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
Building a strong brand strategy is certainly not the work of a day. It’s a major, ongoing exercise that requires input and collaboration from across the organization, as well as detailed consideration of external stakeholders: your customers and prospects. But the rewards of achieving brand success are well worth the efforts involved. In an increasingly crowded business environment where prospects struggle to differentiate between providers, can you afford not to invest time and resources in developing a strong brand strategy?
- Define your purpose in order to tell a stronger brand story and build more meaningful connections with customers.
- Develop clear vision, mission, messaging and branding guidelines and ensure these are consulted throughout the organization to keep all activity on brand.
- Make sure your brand connects emotionally with prospects and customers, to avoid being seen as equivalent to your competitors.
- Incorporate some flexibility into your brand approach to keep it exciting and engaging, but keep overall consistency in mind.
- Encourage brand loyalty by identifying, showcasing, and rewarding loyal customers.
Article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.
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