According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is:
name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.
That’s like saying you are your name, which is ridiculous. You’re so much MORE than your name. You’re a person, with an appearance, a set of relationships, some accomplishments, beliefs, …
Maybe this is why there’s so much confusion when talking about brand marketing. To some folks, brand marketing has to do mainly with finding a good name. To others, brand marketing is mainly about creating a logo, color scheme, and other visual representations of the brand. Both definitions fit within the AMA’s definition.
But, is that all there is to a brand? Do we choose which brand to buy based on its name, logo, color scheme, etc? Probably not. So when you’re doing brand marketing or hiring someone to do it for you, be sure you’re both working with the right definition of brand marketing.
5 easy steps for successful brand marketing
If brand marketing is more than just a logo and brand name? What is brand marketing and how do you do successful brand marketing?
Lucky for you, I’ve identified 5 easy steps (OK, maybe their not so easy) to successful brand marketing:
Step 1. Strategic competency
Since successful brand marketing involves differentiating yourself from the rest, the first step on your journey is to look inward. What are your strengths as an organization?
In the case of my firm, I have lots of things we do well:
- we’re on the cutting-edge of marketing and social media
- we’re mostly young and very tech-savvy
- we have low overhead and a business model that makes us very competitive price-wise
- we’ve built a strong network that supports our clients
- We have a strong online reputation
Step 2. Competitive advantage
After looking at what you do best, now look at your competitors. What are they doing very well?
What you’d like to find is that sweet spot where you have strong competencies and your competitors are relatively weak. We call this competitive advantage. Competitive advantage is critical for the success of your endeavor, especially when it matches the needs of some customer segment — a target market.
In my case, I have strong analytical skills and require my Account Executives to get certified in analytics, just like me. That way, we’re positioned to provide data-driven marketing strategies to our clients.
Step 3. Create a message
Now, create a message that differentiates your business from your competitors by stressing your competitive advantage. Make sure that message clearly resonates with your target audience.
If you’re Apple, you create commercials comparing Mac with PC. These commercials clearly articulated the value of Mac over its PC cousins. Microsoft copied the commercials when it introduced its Surface tablets because they were so successful in creating a distinctive image for their new brand.
Step 4. Walk the walk
Deliver on your promises. Don’t just create the message about your competitive advantage, use it. And build on it.
In my case, I write about social media analytics, including working on a new book — grab a free chapter here. I also read and continue training to improve my skills and deliver highly data-driven strategies to clients. If you’re Starbucks, you work hard to create the atmosphere many call the third place by using comfy chairs that invite customers to linger over their coffee.
Step 5. Monitor
Make sure your brand is seen the same way by your target market as you see it. That not only means monitoring sentiment but monitoring what customers think about your brand.
I’ve often worked with clients who think they are one thing and their customers think they’re something else. For instance, Ford used the slogan of “quality is job #1” for a long time while customers defined Ford as “Found On Road Dead”. There was a disjoint that hurt the brand. Now Ford focuses on the youth market by providing vehicles linked to their social networks and integrated with their music.
BTW, if you’re interested in learning more, check out this post from Forbes on brand marketing trends. It’s a little dated, but still worth the read. Meanwhile, let me know how your brand marketing efforts are going and what you find contributes to successful brand marketing.
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.