In our daily lives, we are all, more or less consciously, consumers of products, goods, and services and, as such, prime targets of communication and branding strategies.
Are you unclear about the definition of branding strategies? Don’t worry, like you, I am currently learning a lot of new things, and in this article, I will try to explain to you in a simple but effective way what is meant by ‘branding strategies‘.
When we go to the supermarket to fill our empty larder at home, we enter an almost parallel world of shelves and products. What is shown before our eyes is only the final stage of the production and commercial chain of a given article, just waiting to be bought by us.
The moment we place a product in our trolley and take it to the checkout, we make a very precise selection. Making a choice between two similar products is in fact the result of branding strategies effectively applied by the company we have just rewarded with our trust and/or loyalty.
The most important Branding Strategy: the brand!
Before talking about brand positioning strategies, I feel it is only right to better understand what we are referring to when we talk about ‘brand’. The brand is the name or symbol that identifies a product, good, or service, differentiating it from competing products, goods, or services.
When a product does not have a recognizable brand, in 99% of cases it is perceived by the consumer as undifferentiated, dull, and unrecognizable, therefore shoddy. In fact, to date, there is no successful commercial proposition that has not built its acceptance through Brand Identity practices. Think of Nutella and all the other existing ‘hazelnut creams’, there is no contest!
Beginning in the 1990s, most trading companies that opted for product strategies began to turn towards implementing branding strategies. In this way, the company became as substantial to the brand as the products themselves. We are faced with an approach that could be described as ‘brand-centric’: the brand does not simply advertise its products, but the set of values that underpin them. This means building a brand that is not just the product, but the set of products, values, and emotions aroused.
In this sense, the brand is something intangible but fundamental: the promise that is made to the customer and the expectation that the customer has of the company. In simple words, the brand defines the identity and personality of a company. It is the business card that attracts people who are most like and in line with the company’s values and ideals.
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Branding strategies, objectives: positioning, enhancing, and disseminating corporate identity
Now that we have a clearer idea of what brand and brand identity is, we can move on to a more structured topic: branding strategies.
Cutting the cake from the middle, what does branding mean? Branding is about raising the level of brand awareness, or brand awareness, in order to stick in the minds of shoppers and be remembered at the most opportune time, i.e. when you need to be chosen over a competitor. Branding strategies and brand architecture activities have the task of communicating the value of a company, its brand, and its products/services, while at the same time conveying the values, mission, and what the company holds most dear.
Branding is the process that creates, spreads, and enhances the notoriety of companies, organizations, and even tourist spots. Personal Branding, on the other hand, means the same phenomenon but aimed at positioning one’s image as a professional.
What really counts when one wants to impose oneself on the market as a Brand or even as a Top Brand is to be recognizable and as unique as possible, certainly not comparable to a competitor. A brand has some indispensable characteristics, personality being one of them.
In addition to having character and being cool, a brand must be noticed, it must draw attention to itself and its activities. We can imagine it as an eccentric pop star at the top of the charts, be they national or global. But how do you climb the ‘charts’ of the market and get on consumers’ favorite playlists? By following these ‘textbook’ tips I have put together for you.
8 Textbook tips for Branding Strategies in digital
Know and analyze your company’s identity:
The first thing you have to do in order to start a branding strategy is undoubtedly to put things in order from the inside and to be clear about your goals and the values and ideals you want to share. What do you strongly believe in? What was the reason that led you to create your own company? What are the values that guide you? Who are your target buyers and buyer personas? What questions and needs do you want to satisfy? What is your signature style and what distinguishes you from your competitors and everyone else?
Knowing the answer to all these questions is crucial, as it allows you to be fully aware of your business as well as your brand and will enable you to set up a good branding communication strategy, just like a Brand Specialist. If you have not yet precisely defined your value proposition (value position), mission, and vision, this is the first thing you need to do to initiate branding strategies.
Review Logo, choice of colors, and Payoff
The logo is the essence of your business, the icon that makes you unmistakable (learn more about how to create a logo). Having a beautiful, in the broadest sense of the word, modern, and impactful graphic image is essential, as it is the first thing that is usually associated with your company. Having the ‘right’ logo will be crucial in your branding strategies, as it will be the most recurring element, which you will carry with you both online and offline. Connected to the logo, and of equal importance, is the choice of colors, one of the most psychological components in branding strategies.
The choice of colors, although it might not seem so, is an important step. Color, in fact, according to some scientific studies is perceived by our brain as a sensation, triggering emotions, feelings, and memories. It goes without saying that it is one of the components that most direct people’s purchasing decisions.
For all these reasons, it is important to comply with color choices: in short, choose the colors you like best and that reflect your personality, but check that they are also in line with your sector. You may find it useful to know that, for example, blue is one of the colors most used by institutional bodies, or that black is favored by luxury brands, or that purple, romantic and feminine, is the color used by brands targeting women and girls.
Another very important thing is the payoff, the verbal element (not to be confused with the slogan or claim that accompanies the brand. Literally, it means ‘closing sentence’ but practically it is the soul of the brand-made sentence. In a de facto increasingly competitive market, in the age of buzzing and digital marketing, having catchy communication is vital.
It is becoming increasingly important to talk to consumers, to ‘sell’ them our ideas and our point of view on the world; the payoff also serves this purpose. Therefore, having a tailor-made message for our brand is a priority. Who are you? What do you do? How are you committed to the future? These are just a few cues to generate your message and decide who you want to be for your audience, as for us Scavolini is “the most loved by Italians”, Poltrone Sofà “the craftsman of quality” and Barilla is your family because “where there is Barilla there is home”.
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Think of your brand as the main character in a novel
When a novelist decides to write a new story, one of the first things he does is to mentally visualize the main character. He or she imagines him or her physically, but above all he or she attributes character traits, merits, and also flaws to him or her. Do you want your brand to be a winner and get people’s attention? Well, then you have to design your main character who, if you wish, can also reflect you. You have to see the brand as the human part of the company and consequently with clear and well-defined identifying characteristics. If I had my own brand I would want it to be sociable, smiling, polite and friendly. And you, how? Decide that and characterize your brand.
Speak to your audience with honesty and consistency
We have just said that a brand is a bit like a person, with character and identity. With this assumption in mind, you should speak to your customers through a style of voice consistent with your ‘character’. Don’t make the mistake of opting for communication that is uncoordinated with your identity; the goal, in the end, is to get into the mind of the consumer.
Be consistent with your vision and values. In this way, your business will be honest, your offers transparent and customers will not be disappointed by your products or services, because they are the result of an unambiguous identity. Create a unique voice for your company and also respect this tone in your customer care activities, e.g. via social media.
Do not imitate famous chains or big brands
In the previous paragraph, we talked about how important it is to have one’s own identity, which in other words means that it must necessarily be distinctive. Good branding strategies are such when they do not contemplate imitating other brands, especially if they are important and very famous, as large chains can be. To achieve your goals, you must look for a ‘different’ way of branding, one that leads the consumer to consider your business different from the masses and innovative, and trendy. In fact, more and more shoppers are turning to original and extravagant brands. So, if you can, it is good and right to use and unleash creativity. Try to carve out an unusual identity for your business!
Envisage the creation of original and valuable content
How important is it today, in the age of content marketing, to offer our customers not only the object of our business, but also entertainment, education, and companionship? The answer is simple: very important.
Today, customers can buy how, where, when, and from whom they want. The market is overflowing with offers and many of the products and services available have almost identical characteristics. In this scenario of commercial saturation, what, then, makes the difference? It is what I call ‘plus’ that directs consumer choice.
Between two similar or identical offers, the user will always choose the one that has aroused more emotion or that has ‘given’ him something useful/educational, that something extra, the plus! This is why it is important in branding strategies aimed at digital to implement a content marketing campaign, creating original and quality editorial content, involving influencers, and making them become ‘ambassadors’ of our brand. It is also essential to have a Blog integrated into the site.
Storytelling through Brand Journalism
As I just mentioned above, having a Blog linked to one’s own site has become a must for any self-respecting Brand. The Blog, among other things, can and must be used by a company to do brand journalism. In fact, brand journalism has become a tangible reality, as more and more brands have fulfilled the need and desire to tell their stories in a comprehensive manner. And what better channel than journalism?
For a brand, Brand Journalism via its own website, or from a specially created webzine, means bypassing the mediation of traditional newspapers and addressing the reader-consumer directly, with the possibility of building loyalty. This occurs because the 3.0 consumer wants to be involved and never interrupted, which is why the relevance of storytelling applied to marketing is growing. Obviously, all content created must be optimized on an SEO level for search engines.
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Don’t forget the analysis of the results
An aspect as important as it is neglected for brand positioning is the measurement of the results achieved through the branding strategies executed. Although in a less obvious manner, the analysis of objectives contributes to the construction and improvement of the brand identity, because it highlights which choices were successful and which were not.
At the same time, they help to delineate the ‘merits’ and ‘flaws’ of the brand in an ever sharper way, providing instructions for leveraging the reasons for pride but also teaching how to smooth out the weaknesses, because like everyone, even the favorites in our favorite novels and superstars are not perfect. The important thing is to be aware of this and always be honest and sincere with your target audience; only then can small shortcomings become strengths.
To summarise, here is what you need to implement good digital-facing branding strategies:
- A website with an integrated blog
- A landing page
- An SEO positioning campaign
- A Lead Generation Campaign
- Content Marketing
- Brand Journalism and Storytelling
- Social media marketing
- Advertising Actions
- Measuring the results of your branding strategies
Creating a brand or working for a brand, as you may have deduced from this reading, is as stimulating as it is challenging. Being able to retain our customers and make them loyal to our brand is certainly not an easy task, but if we are the first ‘fans’ and supporters of our brand everything will seem easier. Usually, these activities, like the management of branding strategies, are coordinated by specialized professionals, such as the Digital Brand Manager. So now all that remains is to start looking after our corporate image, starting from the ideas I have proposed to you and which I hope you will have found useful.
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