Marketing, advertising, and promotional strategies change over time. Among other influences, the evolution of these important business-building methods can be traced to technological advances and shifts in consumer preferences. In one timely example of how technology drives marketing best-practices, communication innovation now brings people together in ways that were once unimaginable, and information moves faster than ever before, shaping the way sellers and service providers communicate with consumers.
In today’s competitive, hyper-connected, consumer environment, the positive power of branding can’t be denied. Make the right impression on your demographic, and watch revenue figures climb, as consumers embrace your branding messages. Fail to make a positive impact, on the other hand, and the future of your business could hang in the balance.
As you contemplate small business marketing strategies, try to analyze your brand appeal through the eyes of consumers. Does your branding strategy send the right messages? What about unintended effects? Can you tweak your brand image to better convey your company’s strengths and values? Reflecting on these and other important image concerns can help lead you to branding solutions that align with your overall marketing plan.
Branding for Personal Connections
Not only are there many more ways for people to connect than there once were, but twenty-first century consumers also have different lifestyle requirements than past generations did. With a large number of competing channels vying for consumers’ personal attention, modern branding success relies on marketers’ ability to make personal connections with customers. And there isn’t much time to do it, before the ever-present drone of consumer information drowns out your message.
A cohesive strategy built on branding basics helps you make a memorable first impression and may buy you a little extra time in consumer consciousness, before potential customers move on to the next thing.
- Build an Approachable Brand – Your audience helps define the most effective branding strategies for your business. With your target market in mind, branding should put consumers at ease, at the same time sparking curiosity about your goods and services. It’s important to put your creative signature on branding decisions, but your approach should also be familiar enough to disarm and comfort consumers.
- Don’t Confuse Your Image – Your brand image provides first impressions about your organization, so your goal is to facilitate positive messaging, not get in the way. Overly complex or ambitious packaging, logos, and design schemes can muddle your message, making it harder for consumers to decipher your brand.
Starting with a clear brand name, your logos, color schemes, graphics, and other branding efforts should be easily understood and illustrate key points about your business. Without a second thought, your audience should be able to discern who you are and what you do, with nothing more than a glance at your slogans and brand themes.
- Tell Your Story – The modern marketplace is about more than closing sales. Consumers hold strong values that are reflected in their shopping habits. As a seller or service provider, your most valuable consumer allies are those sharing your company’s core values. If your organization is committed to fair practices, transparency, sustainability, or any other guiding principle, you’ve got to make it clear to your customers – particularly the ones already aligned with your mission.
Maximizing the Power of a Positive Brand Image
You can’t predict every possibility, but you can be certain your business will evolve. The best branding solutions leave room for future change, without compromising the strength of your brand in today’s market.
- Make a Splash – Whether you’re developing your brand for the first time or relaunching after a rebranding campaign, you need to make a splash, or risk being overlooked. Creating awareness starts the ball rolling, which in turn leads customers to share about their experiences with your organization. Social media activities and traditional marketing methods are good ways to support your launch.
Armed with early feedback, you can fine-tune your branding for greater appeal. And once you reach a critical mass of happy customers, generating positive online reviews, your branding effort takes on a life of its own, creating passive benefits in the consumer marketplace.
- Publicize Your Brand – Publicity and promotion work hand in hand, propelling brand recognition. Though the two concepts are closely related, they are not exactly the same thing. A satisfied customer touting your goods and services on social media is more like publicity than promotion. And a local media outlet reporting about a business event or some other feature of your organization represents publicity you can’t put a price on. The power of promotion takes over when you make moves to maximize the impact of positive publicity.
The value of organic support can’t be understated, but the benefits of good publicity don’t have to disappear overnight. It’s up to you to promote your business and extend the impact of positive reviews, news coverage, and other goodwill. Get the word out by sharing on social media. And effectively use your website to feature customer accolades and media about your business.
- Consider the Long Haul – Many of the most recognizable, iconic, consumer companies seldom make changes to their familiar, successful brand images. And when they do, mild redesigns are more common than sweeping overhauls. When designing logos, choosing colors, and refining your brand vision, it’s best to think long term. Will your branding stand the test of time? Can you freshen-up your graphics and color scheme in the future, to modernize your brand?
Your business name, logo, and slogans are all extensions of your organizational image. Even unintended brand messages can have a negative impact on public perception, so it’s important to measure branding decisions with consumers in mind. For bankable results, use positive branding to control your image and make it as easy as possible for customers to recognize and embrace the benefits of your brand.