6 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out
Branding means creating a personality for your products or services. A personality that customers can interact with, no matter if it is an innovative piece of packaging design or a great guest post on a particular blog. People are bombarded by branding, so it is not easy to stand out, but here are some aspects you should take into consideration.
Trying to appeal to everyone and not segmenting a target market is counterproductive and it dilutes a company brand. Before focusing on branding, you should first discover and understand your audience. This is critical for providing direction for the tone and reach of the marketing campaigns, along with the overall identification of a brand. It also helps create an organic and human connection between a business and its customers. Just look at Nike. This giant has been able to succeed for generations because it is constantly changing to meet its audience’s needs. When the company started in 1964, Michael Jordan was a toddler and most people could not have even imagined the Internet. However, as the years passed, Nike managed to adjust its message and stay relevant. In order to communicate more efficiently with target audiences, even Nike sub-brands have their own Facebook pages, where specific promotions are run.
There is very much shouting in the digital world and people are starting to get tired of aggressive advertising. Instead of obsessing over making a huge splash, focus on generating one good and simple idea that will make your brand remarkable. Creating a unique identity or campaign does not demand a revolutionary idea. It simply needs to have one single thing that separates a brand from its competition. Once a company figures out what this “one-trick pony” is, it can focus on it extensively and should gain recognition in time. For instance, Apple has become known worldwide for their innovative products and minimalistic appeal. They kept this design for every new generation of products until it remained imprinted in people’s minds. They did not have to invest a lot of money in advertising, because consumers started to recognize the brand after a unique feature – its aesthetic direction.
Create a universal branding
Your branding strategy should cover every channel, from offline to online. For example, for a campaign for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, yellow boards were put around London and Manchester. They looked like police information banners, and people started photographing and tweeting them. The campaign went viral, although the first interaction with the customer started offline. This is what I mean through universal branding – in order for a brand to stand out, you need to think out of the box when designing the communication strategy. Because once you know how customers perceive your brand, you also have to find out their preferred communication channels – whether that means Instagram, ads at transportation hubs or glossy magazines. Always use the right channels to broadcast your brand.
Counter your competitors
Analysing your rivals’ weaknesses can be as simple as reading local newspapers, trolling social media or visiting their websites or stores. You should constantly spy on your competitors in order to find a different value proposition for your own company. Getting updates on your competitors’ activity online is free via Google Alerts. You just have to insert your competitor’s names into the search query and choose what kind of results you want to be notified of – including news, blogs, videos and discussions. The goal here is to make sure all the marketing elements that form your brand experience are better than those of your competitors. Always look behind the obvious and also follow your indirect competitors. For example, if you run a local gift shop, then other gift shops are only a part of your competition. Because you are only competing with supermarkets that offer gifts, movie theatres, online businesses or florists. Looking at your competition more broadly will help you understand all the marketing messages directed at your customers. They can help you stay on top of your game!
Walk the walk
By this I am referring to one of the most important components of successful branding – authenticity. Always make sure your company’s intentions match your brand. Because customers will start having expectations according to your communication and if these are not met in reality, they will end up disappointed. Think about your ads, personal contacts with customers and social pages. Is the level of politeness the same in Facebook comments and in reality? Are the features mentioned in print ads real? Do the products look similar to those in photographs? It is important to take all these aspects into consideration before they ruin your brand’s success.
To be more specific, it is recommended to find innovative ways of collaboration. Like partnerships with non-endemic brands*. Such an association helps breaking the stereotypes and create unpredictable relationships that are enjoyed by customers. A recent campaign that comes to my mind is that of Cadillac, who sponsored New York Men’s Fashion Week. The company’s CEO thought this decision “gave the brand a unique opportunity to make a difference (…) Instead of taking long-established platforms over from competitors – which is to a certain extent very predictable – we want to be more daring and entrepreneurial ourselves.”
*Endemic advertising refers to ad placement where it is native or natural to its market. For instance, Reebok, which is a maker of athletic shoes and apparel, would use endemic advertising by running its ad spots during sporting events. (Source: smalbusiness.chron.com)