Let’s say you’re given an extra ten thousand dollars to spend on your brand this month. What do you put the money into? A mammoth billboard on a highly frequented, traffic-heavy road? Increased advertisements on radio or television stations, broadcasting to your brand’s geographical target areas? A new digital marketing campaign? More importantly: how do you decide?
That’s where your brand strategy comes in; like business strategy, brand strategy is anchored in economic metrics and is informed by analytics, not just by creative marketing processes.
It has become routine for companies to spend vast sums on marketing their brands. But the shifting economics of brand strategy are making it worth challenging the routine. Should you spend your next dollar on making your brand disseminate its promise through advertising or other marketing tactics, or on keeping your brand’s promise by ensuring that your products and company deliver what customers want?
Here’s a quick look at some low-budget, high-impact brand strategies that can help you better answer this question.
Invest in research
Far too often, companies skip or discount the importance of the research step entirely; they figure they already know who their target audience is and what it wants, and that’s about all research is good for. But research is a critical component of success: it provides businesses with hard data to base their strategies on.
Here’s a look at a few key areas brands should focus their research on:
•Market – study the trends that currently dominate the market, the dynamics that make the market in question tick, and the capacity of the market segment you’re looking to integrate your brand into.
•Competitors – how can you make sure your brand is positioned correctly against competitors if you don’t know how they’re doing business? You can’t. And that’s why being familiar with your competitors is just as important as being familiar with the market.
•Consumer behaviour – when it comes to buying decisions, consumer behaviour is the single hardest factor to predict. That’s why insight into the consumer’s mind – the values that control his or her choices – is important.
•Company and product – how are you looking to position your brand in the market? What benefits do you want consumers to associate with the brand? What values would you like to incorporate? These are some of the questions a company answers about itself through research.
On a side note, brand research isn’t a one-time thing. Brand research must be ongoing for your brand to continually build equity and gain value in the consumer’s mind. Remember, the world is changing faster than ever and that means your brand needs to keep up with consumer needs, market evolutions, and so on.
Create a memorable brand identity
First and foremost, let’s clear up the biggest misconception about brand identity: your brand is not just your product. You brand is the sum total of its name, its logo, its slogan, its website, its packaging, and its reputation, to name a few aspects that really count.
For instance, when asked to envision a brand, quite often, consumers will call the packaging to mind. Not only that, they will recall specific visual aspects of the packaging. That’s why packaging plays such an important role in the marketing mix. Even though advertising helps to build brand recognition, purchase decisions are ultimately made at the retail shelf.
And after a new brand identity has been launched, it’s important to monitor and care for it, as it interacts with your customers on a daily basis. Over time, if your target audience shifts, the market evolves, or the brand’s products and services change, it may be time for a rebrand.
Communication is key
Your brand’s communication strategy is quite important: it tells consumers what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors.
For a new product – or one that’s not yet distinctive in the minds of consumers – advertising to promote awareness can have substantial value. For mature brands, however, awareness advertising often devolves into an expensive competition. In contrast, call-to-action advertising, such as limited promotions, can help generate traffic for a short period.
A holistic communication strategy is something of a rarity. It necessitates greater effectiveness of communication, within limited budgets. There needs to be a consistency between the communication budget and the objective for communications. The best way to design an effective communication strategy is an effective brand strategy, based on thorough research.
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