April 2023 · 12 Min Read
If brand marketing were a politician, it would have to deal with some tricky questions. Who are you? Aren’t you all just the same? Marketing this. Brand that. Shouldn’t we just call it branding?
Brand marketing sounds like yet another jargonistic term that says nothing and doesn’t make any difference to the success of your business. Yet, you’re about to see that it’s one of the best ways to increase sales, gain loyal clients and stand out from the crowd.
Let’s define brand marketing properly. In this article, you’ll discover what it is, why it’s important and how to make it successful.
To understand brand marketing, you first need to understand your brand. Your company brand is who you are as a business. When you define your brand, you make sure everyone who is connected to your business knows why you exist. You focus on what matters to you, how you like to communicate, who you’re trying to communicate with and where you want to be in the short, medium and long-term future.
Brand marketing comes after you’ve defined your brand. It ensures your products and services align with what you stand for, that you’re visible in the places your audience spend time and your brand personality, tone of voice and promotional activity reflect your communication style. The eventual goal is to establish and maintain a positive relationship between your brand and your customers.
Your business has a brand, you have a brand as an individual and each of your products or services has a brand too. Brand marketing focuses on your company as a whole, whereas product marketing focuses on a particular product or service.
When most people hear the word brand, they think about branding. Logos, colour schemes, website fonts, graphic design, written content and copy are all part of branding but your brand encompasses more. Your branding reflects your brand. For example, when you create a logo, it could say “we’re a fun and quirky business that communicates in a friendly welcoming manner” or “we’re serious, we don’t do fluff but we get results”.
You’ve defined your brand and it reflects who you are, so where does brand marketing come in? It’s not as complicated as it sounds:
The reason these three terms are so regularly confused is that they’re so closely connected. Each one relies on the other. If your brand isn’t clearly defined, your branding won’t be clear, consistent, relevant or unique and your marketing won’t reach the right people at the right time. Even with a well-defined brand, if your marketing and branding aren’t aligned to it, your audience won’t see what you want them to see.
Yes, brand equity is yet another brand-based term. One day, we’ll come up with better names because the names aren’t the important bit here. What they refer to is. Think about going into a phone shop and seeing a Samsung phone, an Apple phone and a phone that has no brand at all. Which one would you be drawn towards? Die hard Samsung fans would likely ignore the Apple phone and wouldn't notice the phone without a brand. The opposite is true for Apple fans. Either way, the brandless phone is left in the dark for most customers.
If you looked a little closer, you might have seen that the non-branded phone was objectively as good as both alternatives but without a brand or any brand marketing, nobody could know that. Brand equity is the value customers and other stakeholders place on your business and your products. The more positive your brand equity is, the more likely you are to sell your products and services.
Brand equity can be broken down into five key stages:
Brand awareness means people have heard of you. They don’t know much about you yet but you exist in their minds.
Brand recognition is when familiarity sets in. Potential customers and other stakeholders know who you are and they’re ready to give you a try when they need what you offer.
It’s time to try what you’re selling. Customers associate your brand with a product or service they need and trust you enough to give it a try.
Well done! Your product tested well and you’re now the preferred choice of customers who know how your product benefits them.
Your brand equity is truly positive with loyal customers. They always choose to buy your products and they recommend you to anyone who needs something similar.
A few weeks before we wrote this article, a business owner approached Puck Creations and asked if we could write the content for her website. Not one message had been exchanged previously and she had never seen any specific product advertising but she knew she wanted to work with us.
The first thing she said when she started talking to our founder was that she had seen our weekly LinkedIn newsletter and had kept up with our Storytelling with Puck Podcast. This is all brand marketing and took our new customer from the awareness stage of equity to the recognition stage, before eventually reaching the testing stage. Since we worked on their website, we’ve been asked back to create articles. We're now the business’ preference for writing tasks and they have already recommended us to another company. That’s how brand marketing works and why it matters.
The example above showed a strong brand-consumer relationship. Brand-consumer relationships aren’t always strong and aren’t always positive. Brand marketing helps to grow the brand-consumer relationship but if your marketing doesn’t align with your brand, you’ll turn your audience off. This is one of the quickest ways to go from having a positive brand reputation to a negative brand reputation.
To make sure your brand is clear, consistent, relevant and stands out from the crowd, you need to define it. When you take part in a Puck Creations Defining Your Brand Workshop, you’re given the space and the tools to make sure your team are all on the same page with the most important aspects of your brand:
For a clear, consistent, relevant message that stands out.
What makes you and everyone in your team get up in the morning and go to work? Yes, you’ll all have individual reasons. Yes, you probably all like to earn money but when there’s something deeper that you strive for collectively, your motivation increases and your chance of business success is higher.
Your why or your purpose or whatever the latest term is describes your overall objective but we all have dreams we never achieve. If you want to succeed, you have to think about how. Think of this as a broad strategy. At a personal level, you could picture somebody trying to improve their health.
Their WHY could be to feel better every day of their lives or they could go deeper. They might want to be able to play sports with their kids or simply live longer. Their HOW is the “by” bit in this sentence: “I aim to feel better every day by improving my daily lifestyle choices.”
Making healthier lifestyle choices is great but what exactly does that mean day to day? Increasing exercise? Eating a more varied diet? Meditating? This is like your products or services. They could change quite a lot but if you decide to regularly eat large quantities of pizza and chocolate, you’re not improving your daily lifestyle choices and you won’t feel better every day.
Your audience are not just your customers, they’re your suppliers, their influencers and their collaborators. You need to think about both your ideal customers and your wider audience. Your audience will align with who your brand is. Don’t try to speak to the world, speak to the people who believe and trust what you’re saying. A great product or service with benefits that match your clients needs is important but loyal customers want more. They want a brand they know, trust and like.
When you’re figuring out who your ideal clients are and what they need, make sure you research. Check out social media feeds, Google and other online resources. Go to networking meetings and ask straightforward questions. Do whatever you can to make sure you know who you’re talking to and what they need.
What does the future hold? You can’t know every twist and turn but having some idea of where you want your business to be in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years’ time gives your brand direction and supports your WHY.
If you compare banks like Natwest or HSBC in the UK to Revolut or Monzo, you quickly notice that although they’re offering similar services, their communication styles are different. This is because their brands have distinct personalities. Is your brand friendly and rebellious or mature and authoritative? When you know, all of your communication, from images to internal and external meetings, written content and everything in between needs to reflect that.
Values are thrown around like a hot potato in modern marketing speak. Ironically, values displayed beautifully on the office wall or a business website often hold no value at all. For your values to matter, they need to run through everything you do. When you determine a value, think about whether everyone is adhering to it when talking to suppliers, colleagues, customers and anyone else they interact with. If they’re not, you might need to question whether it’s a true value.
Learning from those around you, knowing what your competitors are doing and seeing what direction the market is going in is great for research. Doing exactly what your competitors do and expecting to stand out won’t work but it’s useful to know where you sit in the market and how you can leverage your differences to attract the right audience.
Getting brand marketing right isn’t easy. Every business is unique so you need to do what’s right for you and your audience.
You’ll have seen a thousand ads telling you the “5 secrets to successful marketing” or “7 ways to make your business stand out”. Some of these articles and resources offer useful tips but a lot of companies are making money from you by suggesting you copy exactly what they do. This is inherently bad advice.
The reason you define your brand is so you know how your business can interact with your audience. It’s unique to you. Listen to marketing ideas but only implement the ones that fit your brand.
Everyone’s sustainable these days, except they’re not. Greenwashing happens when businesses say they’re doing good things for the environment but they’re found out to be disingenuous. Don’t say sustainability is one of your core values because you think it’s trendy, say sustainability is one of your core values if it really is. Otherwise, try to be more sustainable but focus on the values that matter the most to your business.
Just because it’s cool right now, it doesn’t mean it always will be. It’s worth keeping an eye on trends. Associating a product or service with them can be good for short-term gains but you have to be careful. Trends that go against who you are and what you stand for could damage your brand’s reputation in the long term. It’s better to market your brand for the things that make you valuable and only promote trends that align with your business.
Getting your brand marketing right starts with defining your brand. Once you have a clear and consistent understanding of what defines you, you can offer your audience relevant messages that stand out from the crowd. You’re ready to create branding that says “This is us and we’re proud” and marketing that shows how you’re a business customers can trust to fulfil their needs.
With content that connects and compels
A.) Brand marketing strategies promote the benefits of a business’ brand, rather than products or services alone. Brand marketing and product marketing strategies need to align for businesses to build stronger customer relationships.
A.) Brand marketing focuses on who you are as a business and what you stand for. Product marketing focuses on the particular benefits of a product or service and is closely aligned to your overall company brand.
A.) Brand marketing focuses on creating stronger ties with your audience. When you do it well, you improve your brand’s reputation and you’re more likely to gain loyal customers who buy more and spread your name to future clients.
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