2017: It’s (Still) All in the Brand, Baby
By now, whether you’re at the pulse of marketing trends or not, if you’re a business owner or charged with the promotion of your organization, you’ve probably heard all of the hype about the evolution of the digital landscape, social media, analytics, SEO, apps, pop-up ads and click-through rates, and more. Let us also not forget the tried-and-true methods of television, radio, signage, and yes, print too (case in point, you’re reading this right now). These are all major players that are expected to remain impactful in 2017, and regardless of the business, finding the right combination that gets you in front of your target audience and compels them to act in a way that yields your desired results is the ongoing quest that all share in common.
But what’s at the center, the single most important thing that will determine your success with any of these powerful promotional outlets, and what necessitates use of them to deliver a message in the first place? In a debate that now seems to be much like “Who came first, the chicken or the egg?” the brand itself is often overlooked in favor of winning the race to get out in front of people with a sales message. Without wings it cannot fly, absolutely, and the end goal of investing in any form of advertising is to increase profits, true as well. But it’s shortsighted not to take into consideration that your brand is among the top reasons for people to choose doing business with you, as most still opt to do business with those they know and like. In order to truly soar, all of the important attributes that together form your unique brand identity need to be present and cohesive in all that you do, from conducting business to the promotion of it.
You see, branding remains as relevant as ever. We’re on this continuous soul-searching mission to find and hone in on the things that make our business/organization special in order to take it to the next level, and by sharing those very findings, we further differentiate ourselves from those occupying the same space in the marketplace. Regardless of what methods will best assist us in those pursuits, as the vehicles for delivery progress with the times, so must the engaging content that is being delivered to support our branding efforts. Once a strong core identity has been established, every single thing put out into the world will serve to further define the brand, much like scaffolding for those who are familiar with the process as it applies to education.
Since I often find inspiration from the great minds in marketing, before I go any further, I’ll first pass along some brief-yet-wise words on exactly what “brand” means, what it should be to those you do business with and those within your company. As the next step is how to shape that accordingly while achieving consistency with your messaging, we’ll be covering key branding principles in the coming months based on the following quotes and others that are equally insightful.
Most of these were selected from a list of “30 Branding Definitions” compiled by Heidi Cohen in her actionable marketing guide, sourced from marketers and visionary leaders who she refers to as “the original Mad Men.” (In her own right, Cohen has deep knowledge of cutting-edge marketing across diverse product categories and has helped to build brands such as Citibank and The Economist. Source: heidicohen.com/30-branding-definitions/)
“…A good brand should deliver a clear message, provide credibility, connect with customers emotionally, motivate the buyer, and create user loyalty.” -Gini Dietrich (Spin Sucks)
“Branding is the representation of your organization as a personality. Branding is who you are that differentiates you.” -Dave Kerpen (Likeable Media)
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.” -Seth Godin
“Attention is a scarce resource. Branding is the experience marketers create to win that attention.” -Jeffrey Harmon (Orabrush)
“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.” -Jay Baer (Convince & Convert)
“Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.” –David Ogilvy
With all of that being said, likewise, although a brand wields great influence in its own right, it cannot stand alone and still fulfill its intended purpose. Once developed, it must be shared, and these are to be viewed as two distinct entities within an organization but planned and deployed in partnership. Cohen also offers the following advice, which I think is an important lens which to view our entire discussion on branding over the coming months: “By itself, a brand isn’t a marketing strategy.” Wherever you are at in the evolution of your brand, there’s always work to be done in sharpening it. As long as you keep it as the star of the show, you’ll continue to shine!
To learn more about how Strictly Business can help you, contact me directly at (402) 466-3330 or visit StrictlyBusinessOmaha.com/connect. (You can also click on our Staff Letter tab online to view past articles)