Branding is a marketing term used to describe the process of developing a strong, positive perception of the products and services offered by a company. This includes critical components like logos, design styles, product themes, and a cohesive mission statement that ties it all together into one cohesive corporate image. This is how companies stand out in their industry against their competition. It also goes a long way toward attracting and retaining loyal customers.
Of course, this also extends into the world of online marketing, customer service, and even social media. As these outlets have become an increasingly popular way for new customers to learn about your companies, as well as read reviews and research your product line long before they even think about setting foot in a retail location, calling upon your service or adding a product to their e-commerce shopping cart.
What Makes Branding So Important?
An effective branding strategy can have a major impact on your company’s long-term profitability. Not only will unique branding give you a stronger position against your competitors, but it also increases your chances of developing a loyal customer base. As you likely know, repeat customers are far easier and cheaper to maintain, than it is to constantly have to attract new customers.
When it comes to the constantly growing and evolving world of eCommerce, a consistent brand image, with strong reviews and a robust loyal customer base can prove to be an invaluable asset. Not only does it encourage repeat sales, but it can boost your ability to attract new customers.
Even if you aren’t putting a lot of effort into developing a targeted brand strategy, there will still be people out there who see your product line or service menu as a brand unto itself.
What Are The Most Important Elements In Developing A Branding Strategy?
An effective branding strategy is based on developing your company’s image through storytelling devices, building relationships via customer service as well as cementing loyal customers, sending out consistent marketing messages and developing visual assets that set you apart from your competitors.
This includes key elements like:
This is the “Why” reason behind your company’s existence and closely reflects your mission statement. Ultimately, a brand that stands for something is more likely to attract new customer as well as retain loyal customers in the long term.
In this case the “Experience” is the experience you provide to customers who use your products or services, as well as your online presence. How does your brand make people FEEL when they engage with, or even think about your brand.It goes beyond more than just your company’s knowledgeable experience in your given industry. Though this is still a factor.
This is the human characteristics of your company and your product line. Is your company brash? Is it laid back and cool? Witty, caring, charming, empowering… Displaying a “Voice” or “Attitude” gives your new and existing customers something to connect with and can relate to.
The same messages need to be delivered on theme each and every time for new and existing customers to truly buy into your brand’s identity. Inconsistent branding not only sends a confusing message, but it also smells of desperation that can scare some customers away. Imagine having different colors, logos or mascots each time someone engages with your brand. That scattered feeling comes across deep in people’s psyches that remains ingrained inside when something comes up that causes them to need to use your brands products or services.
Just like Personality you want to be able to develop an emotional relationship between your company and consumers. People are far more likely to make a purchase based on emotion, so it always helps to appeal to the consumer’s emotional state, needs, aspirations, and even their ego.
It is far easier to get repeat business from a loyal customer than it is to constantly try to attract new customers to your products and services. Demonstrating that you will return that loyalty with things like special events and pricing for repeat customers or promotional offers helps ensure that their eye doesn’t wander to the competition. It also sends a message to potential new customers that there are benefits to getting on board with your company over the competition.
Just like your mission statement and purpose, people connect their values with a company’s values. This might include things like awareness of products being organic, vegan, ecologically friendly, connected to a charitable organization or a similar ancillary connection that demonstrates that your company is about more than pure profit.
This is an increasingly popular aspect of effective brand strategy. Consumers are far more likely to sign on with a company that demonstrates strong values and activism that is inline with those values. This could come in the form of charitable events, donations made with every purchase, or special employee events held in the community.
The Role Of Branding In eCommerce
In a perfect world you should have a clear branding strategy long before you launch your company’s website. Especially when you consider how an eCommerce shop can serve as a safety net to protect your business from having to compete against local pricing.
To truly build a strong eCommerce brand it helps to answer some key questions about your potential customer base.
What Do Your Customers Like?
This question speaks to not only their interests, but also to the products and services they are attracted to. Understanding their preferences, and underlying values will go a long way toward developing not only your company’s product line, but the voice in which you deliver your branding message. Athletic shoes and sports jerseys is a good indication that they are into sports, so showing people playing basketball or running will hit home with that individual you seek to target. Organic foods might want to focus on healthy living messaging.
What Motivates Them To Buy?
Some products and services have a stronger emotional element that drives people to make a purchase. These are often tied to the four Fs of the limbic brain, for feeding, fighting, fearing and fornicating. While there are other products and services that require more of a cerebral approach, and longer consideration time. This includes high-value products with a large price tag and high investment potential.
What Will They Like About Your Brand?
Defining your values and delivering on them with consistent messages will go a long way toward helping new and repeat customers to connect with your company. Identifying key psychographics invites them in to feel like they “Belong” with your company over your competition.
Define & Refine Your Visual Assets
In the world of high cuisine they say that you “Eat With Your Eyes First.” This sentiment is also true when it comes to visual assets, logos, graphics and even things like product photography. These are your front facing elements, including nuts and bolts things like website design, fonts and color scheme, and logo as well as the packaging.
Different colors have vastly different emotional connections with people that is often built into different cultures. Reds evokes passion and energy with attention grabbing aggressiveness – think SALE, or EAT – Blues are calming and trusting, Yellow is positive or hope. The various hues of each color can dramatically change a person’s emotional connection.
The same is said for a logo font choice. The font of a brand instantly makes people feel certain ways that communicates your brands personality. They should be legible, unique and memorable.
Optimize Your Customer’s Experience
It’s important to do your best to make sure each and every interaction your company or your employees have with your customers is aligned with your brand guidelines and is consistently in line with your mission statement. At the same time, consumers are more likely to purchase and remain invested in a company with a consistently robust experience. This might be something as simply as dramatic boxing, a visually engaging website, or high-quality customer service that leaves them walking away feeling satisfied every single time. Every step of a customers journey should be consistent with your brand. It’s the reason why brands choose to create a branding style guide to ensure internal and external entities which help grow your brand continually adhere to the same guildeness anywhere a customer may come across your brand for the first time, last time…ever time. From social media, websites, publications, ads, products or services, every touch point must continually deliver a familiar footprint that resonates over the years.