The United States is, by far, the largest advertising market in the world. In 2015, more than 180 billion dollars were spent on advertising in the United States. This amount is more than double the amount spent on advertising in China, the second largest advertising market in the world.
What this means is, if you are advertising within the United States (since you are reading a blog from a Texas ad agency, we’ll assume you are) then you are fighting a seemingly insurmountable battle on the world’s largest advertising stage. The battle for brand loyalty amongst the American consumer.
Getting your company to the top of the brand awareness totem pole can be daunting (mostly because the market is flooded with advertising giants that have reigned supreme for years like Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, and Frito-Lay, just to name a few) but remember, the leaders of the pack had to start at the bottom too. There is hope, but getting there requires the proper strategy.
The truth is: Your brand is not your logo, your name, your website, or even your product (yep, you read that correctly).
Your brand is in the intangibles, the emotions created by the consumer when they use your product or see your television commercials. It’s how your brand makes them feel. Let’s face it, humans are emotional creatures, and many of our daily decisions (including purchasing decisions) are guided by our personal feelings and preferences.
So, the question is:
What are the key ingredients in the recipe for a successful branding strategy?
Here are a few factors to consider:
As in, “What is your company’s motivation and drive? Why do you do what you do?” Yes, all companies promise some sort of benefit (These shoes will make you run faster. This particular brand of yogurt will make you healthier. This brand of tire’s tread won’t wear down as fast. And so on and so forth.) but that’s not always enough. What specifically differentiates your company from your competitors?Many times a company’s purpose can be broken down to two key elements: Purpose of Function, and Purpose of Intention.
The evaluation viewed in terms of immediate and commercial success (i.e the purpose of your business is strictly to make money). This one doesn’t always go over so well with consumers. Yes, they know you are a business and businesses have to make money to exist, but most people don’t like being seen as walking dollar signs. Which brings us to the more human element.
The concept of growing the financial success of your business while (and this is the important part) doing some good in the world for your fellow man.
A great example of Intentional Purpose in advertising is IKEA.
Isn’t a “better everyday life” and “prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them” a better emotional strategy than “At (insert company here) we like to make money so we can afford to buy our third yacht”? I think so, and I’m sure most consumers would agree with me.
The trick to staying consistent in your messaging is to stay away from images or messages that don’t relate to or enrich your brand. Ask yourself: “Is this meme I just posted to Instagram a good representation of the overall message I’m trying to send about my product and its value, or is it just humor for humor’s sake?” Sending inconsistent messages about your product/service can be confusing to your target audience, and could potentially destroy any credibility you may have gained with consumers
As I stated earlier, humans are emotional creatures, and more times than not, follow a group mentality. They just want to be part of the “in-crowd.” That’s why a person might make a decision to buy a more popular brand, even if it’s more expensive. For example:
By giving motorcycle enthusiasts an opportunity to be part of a larger group, Harley- Davidson has positioned themselves as the clear choice for someone looking to purchase a motorcycle. Now, they don’t just have to “keep up with the Joneses,” they can join them for a leisurely Sunday ride.
Now that you’ve found your emotional approach, focus on the best way to expand your idea to reach new audiences. Vary your approach to keep an original idea from becoming stagnant. Never rest on your laurels. Learn to listen to your audience’s needs and wants, and adapt accordingly.
Make sure your brand is being represented cohesively from top to bottom. We live in a social and digital age. Use it to your advantage. Set up events so that your executives and employees can be seen enjoying your product/service. If you won’t use your own product, then how can you expect John Q. Public to trust that your product represents them?
And, last but certainly not least:
The best thing you can do is to show appreciation for those who have helped in your success. It’s called “gratitude.” Reward loyal customers for being loyal. These people have gone out of their way to give your product/service good reviews on the Internet (trust me, people look at those, and sometimes base their purchasing decisions on them), they tell their friends and family (after all, word-of-mouth is really the best advertising), they act as brand ambassadors. Biting the hand that feeds is the absolute best way to alienate a loyal customer base. People enjoy being appreciated. Never forget that.