Digital marketing can do wonders for small businesses and startups. But, as your business grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to break through the noise, beat the algorithms, build an audience, and win the hearts of customers. In this article we share 8 Factors That Make a Brand Stand Out.
Instead of focusing all of your efforts on fly-by-night marketing, you should eventually shift your focus to brand building strategies that will make your brand stand out in the crowd and help you build a loyal follower base.
Sure, marketing is essential to growth as well, but have you ever wondered:
- Why do your customers pay attention to your marketing efforts in the first place?
- What factors make customers like you?
- Why do customers choose you over your competition?
- What creates an emotional connection between your customers and your business?
By making an effort to understand the branding factors that resonate with consumers, you can build a loyal customer base.
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Branding starts and ends with your customers, so you must get clear about them. Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that their brand story is all about them. In fact, your customers are at the centre of your brand story. You can help your customers get what they want by figuring out where you fit into that story.
Start by defining your target customer. You need to hypothesise what your customers want and what motivates them. You also need to decide on basic psychographic and demographic characteristics.
Then the next step is to create a customer persona (also called a buyer persona or customer avatar). The customer persona represents the ideal member of your target audience. Since they are based on research and data, customer personas are semi-fictional.
So why do customer personas matter? Creating brand messages for one type of person is much easier than creating brand messages that are intended for everyone and anyone.
This will allow you to cut out the spammy and cheesy stuff from your messaging and get straight to the point. By researching your ideal target customer, you can learn how to naturally communicate with them and demonstrate empathy and an understanding of their problems.
So, instead of saying, “Buy my product, it’s awesome for X!” you can say something along the lines of, “We know what’s it like to struggle with X. This is what we’ve learned about how to get to Y…”
To create a mental picture of your perfect customer, answer the following questions:
Who Are They?
- Who are they? (location, gender, age,etc.)
- What is their professional life like? (industry, company type, job role. etc.)
- What is their home life like? (marital status, pets, children, etc.)
- How do they spend their leisure time?
- Who do they follow? (personalities, thought leaders, brands, media)
- Where do they like to go? (offline and online)
What Do They Need?
- What are their biggest problems, frustrations, and challenges?
- What do they say they need when they ask about your products or services?
- In terms of their character and personality, what does their purchase of your product say about them?
- How does your business improve their circumstances?
- How can your services or products help them achieve their desires and aspirations?
Where Do Doubts Come From?
- How much do they spend on the products you offer?
- Does your pricing strategy align with their budget sensitivities?
- Before they feel confident about taking the next step, what do they need to know about your brand?
Positioning is the reason why your brand exists. Your brand positioning tells us why a consumer will choose you over your competitors. Your goal should be to position your brand in the minds of your target customers as something more valuable and more special than the competition.
This gives the activities of marketing and branding a common purpose—to give your target audience a reason to choose your brand.
When it comes to brand positioning, you need to think about the following:
- Why do people value the experience of working with you? What do people appreciate about your products or services?
- What are your strengths?
- What makes you unique?
- What adjectives do you want people to use to describe your brand?
- What is the one thing you want your brand to become known for?
- Do you have a unique service, product, proprietary process?
Ultimately, consumers buy from businesses they know, trust, and like. Because of this, it’s important to get into the emotional side of branding.
Personality gives your brand human characteristics. It personifies your brand and makes it more relatable. You can communicate brand personality through your visual identity, tone of voice, and, really, anything you do.
The filters you choose from your Instagram posts, the jargon you use when you respond to customer emails, the way you respond to comments on your social media pages… anything you do shapes your brand personality.
For instance, many businesses are using chatbots to bring their brand to life. Let’s say you have a chatbot installed on your business site or your Facebook page. One way to humanise your brand is to design a smart bot with a persona that captures your brand personality. You can give it a name, unique look, sense of humour, etc.
The purpose of your brand gets us even closer to the emotional reasons why people choose to do business with you. Your brand purpose expresses why you’re in business.
It taps into something deeper, such as the impact you want to make on people’s lives. Customers will feel even better about choosing you when your brand has a purpose they can relate to.
The shoe brand Toms is a great example of this. Not to step on Toms’ toes, but the company’s product isn’t anything sensational. They make plain old espadrilles.
Toms’ brand purpose is what really makes them special—help provide shoes for children living in poverty. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give one to a child in need.
Since the customers are the ones who are paying for those shoes, Toms is giving them a chance to actively participate in their cause.
Toms is a perfect example of how you can win customer affection by having a brand purpose. Instead of buying cheaper, knockoff versions of their shoes at Tesco, their customers will buy a pair of Toms, even if they cost more, because they understand and support the purpose of the brand.
First and foremost, your brand purpose serves as your compass. If customers can understand your purpose without you having to spell it out for them, you are doing a good job. Still, you can’t expect customers to always be aware of your purpose statement.
On the other hand, brand values are something you should explicitly state in your brand copy.
Every brand considers “honesty,” “integrity,” and “quality” to be its brand values, so you should be more specific when deciding what your brand values are. Think about the values that truly differentiate your brand, the ones you live up to each and every day.
Your brand needs to take a stance. You need to know what you stand for, and what you stand against.
The importance of brand values is most evident in cases when brands get involved in matters of human rights, liberty, and politics. If your brand takes a stance on a political or human rights issue, people who share your values are more likely to choose your brand and remain loyal to it.
When most people hear the word “brand,” they think of a brand’s logo, colour pallet, website, etc. Your logo is not your brand, but it is your brand identity. The same goes for your Instagram feed, colours, and website.
Your brand identity is just one of the ways you communicate your brand. You express your brand through visuals as well as words and values. Your brand’s visual identity is of the essence because the human brain recognises visual cues faster than anything else.
And your logo is your brand’s unique visual identifier. Moreover, it is the symbolic representation of your brand. Of course, your website, brand fonts, colour palette, and imagery are also a part of your brand identity.
Brand messaging is how you communicate your purpose, story, personality, etc. to your customers. Every brand should have these branding statements in their arsenal:
- Brand purpose statement: The impact you want to make, the reason for your brand’s existence.
- Brand positioning statement: A brief description of how your services or products fill a particular need for your customers.
- Unique value proposition: A statement on the qualities that distinguish you from the competitors and the benefits of working with you.
- Brand promise: A statement that describes the experience you want for your clients.
- Elevator pitch: When someone asks you “What do you do?”, this is the brief, persuasive speech you’ll give them. It shouldn’t last longer than 30 seconds.
- Branda Mantra: A very short statement that encapsulates the very essence of your brand.
The glue that pulls all the other elements together is brand consistency. It takes time for your target audience to become aware of you, remember you, and trust you. You can shorten this process by being consistent.
You need to be consistent in all aspects of branding—your purpose, your values, tone of voice, personality, etc. Being consistent in branding is much easier when you have prepared the key brand messaging statements.
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If you’re looking to learn more about brand strategy, we highly recommend eRESONAID with our friend and acclaimed brand strategist and author Fabian Geyrhalter, it’s packed full of knowledge and insights you will need to learn to become a brand strategist or apply what you learn within your own business.
Michael Deane has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with many clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.