When somebody mentions a brand, we immediately recall certain visual aspects of it. Whenever Michelin is mentioned, it brings a vivid picture of the Michelin Man and if one mentions Nike, the Swoosh logo comes to mind. But the how does one build a brand? What does it entail? Is only making a good logo enough? All businesses have their own logos but we tend to remember only a few of them. So, what else is needed to be done to build a brand? It is not about how much you can spend but how creative and effective you are in your communication. For instance, some of the most famous logos were designed for a pittance while others cost millions.
A successful brand defines the business. It is not only the mere logo or a catchy tagline. In fact, the brand is inseparable from the overall identity of the business and in case you cannot develop a recognizable brand, the business will never take off the way your desire. So, let’s look at the key aspects of branding that you must apply to your business.
The immediately visible components of the brand create the initial image in the mind of the consumer. Branding begins with the very name of the business itself. Choosing the right name is the first step in creating a connection with the customer and forging a lasting relationship that stands the test of time.
The logo plays an important role but there is more to it. The tagline, the advertisements, the websites, the stores, everything combines to create that certain image. For instance, when you visit the Apple store, it gives you that sense of cutting edge technology. You also feel the same when you visit their website or use their mobile app. So, these components are not independent and random. They are well thought out and consistent with each other. They have been developed to evoke a particular feeling in the minds of the consumers towards the brand.
No brand can appeal to everybody. Different people have different choices and a successful brand knows its target audience. They also know how to attract this target population and that is what we know as brand positioning. A good example here is Miller Lite Beer. It was not an instant success as its key segment of beer drinking males considered the “light beer” to lack machismo. Miller Lite’s game-changer, however, was the iconic “Tastes Great, Less Filling” advertisements. It basically said that it tastes the same as any good beer but is less filling as it is “light” and hence one can drink more. The actual product remained the same, but a simple tweak in brand messaging made it the most popular brand in that segment. This is how you need to position a brand for maximum impact.
An extension of the above point is the brand personality. The brand needs to cultivate a personality that is acceptable for its target audience. For instance, a soda–like Pepsi–is more likely to attract a younger demographic. So, over the years it has cultivated a youthful personality by using sports, music and film stars. In comparison, its competitor Coca Cola focuses on human relationships and tries to deliver a larger message through its advertisements, just to show that it is one of the oldest brands that can almost be considered a symbol of American values. Both have different treatments but both are hugely successful.
Through various branding and promotional activities, a brand promises a certain outcome to the consumer. For example, Virgin is seen as genuine and contemporary, but it also promises to be reasonably priced and not too expensive. So, when someone thinks of Virgin, they expect a fun service or product at a reasonable price. But a new brand must assess itself and figure out what it can deliver before making any promises. It is better not to promise than promising and failing to deliver.
Finally, as branding progresses over time, a story develops around the brand. It is partly based on facts and partly on the associations that people draw. But there must be a story that people can relate to. For example, check this video by Go Pro. It tells us how the brand developed and what motivated them. It also explains what the product can do and why people love it. Such storytelling is an essential component of brand building, as it adds to the brand image and so it must be planned and cultivated carefully.
Branding is not difficult to understand, but very difficult to implement. It is more of an art rather than science and so one cannot just imitate other brands. Every business must come up with its own strategy to build its brand; effective branding helps startups differentiate themselves in the market that is replete with competition and established players. It not only takes foresight and planning but also requires consummate communication skills to convey the qualities of a brand and make people believe in the same.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.
It’s by now a well known fact that the internet moves quickly. In fact, the transmission of ideas, trends, and information now comes at such a fast pace that we’ve needed to develop a whole new vocabulary to discuss it with. Words like ‘viral’ have taken on entire new senses of meaning, while academic terms like ‘meme’ have entered the common vernacular. New words have also been developed, portmanteaus like ‘newsjacking’ or ‘clickbait’ have penetrated our discussions, both on- and offline.
The job of a content marketer is tough enough already: creating quality content is difficult, and it strains that one muscle that’s the hardest to exercise: creativity. But it’s made harder by the constant and consuming need for originality and novelty. The internet is a cruel, demanding mistress (but we love her, don’t we?), and no strategy is forever. Let’s talk about what we can do to develop a strategy that will work now, in two weeks, and in two years. We’re talking about an enduring strategy that doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks. It’s time for some future-proofing.
Imitation: the quickest way to get ignored
The internet can smell a poser a mile away. Citizens of the internet see imitations of success all the time, from their Instagram feeds to their YouTube videos. Let’s face it: you probably aren’t as cool as you used to be, and you probably don’t quite have a handle on what the kids are doing these days. It’s okay, it’s happens to all of us. Chances are, by the time you hear about a trend, it’s already on its way out.
You know when you see pictures of people, and can immediately guess what decade it was taken because of how dumb their hair looks? You don’t want that to happen to your content. You want to get the most mileage possible out of each and every piece of content, so you don’t want it to date itself.
Imitators are rarely successful. So please, lay off the Grumpycat. Your future visitors will thank you for sparing them the eyeroll.
What to do instead
This is not to say that you shouldn’t allow current trends to inform your content. Just don’t make them your content. Instead of using a clickbait-type headline that is sure to go out of style (One Weird Trick to Future-Proof Your Content), write for perpetuity. Write for the future world where people are sick of Weird Tricks, but might still be curious about how to future-proof their content: How to Future-Proof your Content and Boost Engagement. The idea is to entice without being a tease.
By stripping the trend out of your content, you gain respectability. People won’t see you as a hopeless poser, but rather a mature and interesting source of useful information. It’s okay to provoke some curiosity, but you need to deliver on that curiosity you’ve inspired by providing real, valuable content. Provide actionable, valuable information, and the traffic will bring itself, with or without trends.
With the proliferation of search engine penalties, marketers are moving away from illicit online-marketing strategies and towards content marketing. Gone are the days where buying links, getting listed on article directories, or forum spam can get your site to rank safely in Google. In the absence of these cheap and quick tactics, companies are focusing on creating vast amounts of content — both written and visual, to improve their visibility in Google. As a result, we’ve entered a stage of “Content Shock.”
A Great Shock
In early 2014, Mark Schaefer, author of “Social Media Explained,” posited that consumers will soon be overwhelmed with the flow of content dictated as one of the major tenants in what is known as content marketing. Readers will be unable to keep up with what the marketers continue to churn out.
In the article, Schaefer argued that content marketing is an unsustainable strategy because the supply of content will soon outpace the demand for it. With more and more marketers adopting a strategy hinged upon delivering content regularly: the content available will be expansive and unending, while consumers will still only have 24 hours to read it all. This, Schaefer argues, will lead to an overload of information, or “content shock.”
An Evolving Method
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing, like all marketing strategies, evolved from more traditional marketing methods. Consumers, thanks largely to the convenience that modern technology now afforded them, had almost completely tuned out tried-and-true marketing strategies by simply circumventing commercials and ads. Viewers no longer tolerated the ads that they had put up with in the past, because they had options to do otherwise, leaving marketers with the simple fact that no one was consuming their ads anymore. More so, consumers now had the ability to pick and choose exactly what they wanted to consume.
To exploit this, marketers would have to appeal directly to the consumers, in stark contrast to the sweeping ad campaigns targeted at large demographics and veritable blanket statements meant to appeal to the masses.
Supply and Demand
Image credit: Shutterstock
The theory of supply and demand is perhaps the most fundamental concept of economics. Its simplicity allows it to be comprehensible to the average joe, but its scope is what garners it the title: “backbone of a market economy.”
What made content marketing so successful was its ability to communicate with consumers without selling. It was a subliminal sales pitch that left potential customers with the desire to learn more about a product; a result of consuming relevant and moving content. Sites had to develop their message to appeal to consumers by creating a repository of interesting content.
With the amount of content growing rapidly, the ability to consume the content stays the same, despite technology having enable users to consume it at a higher rate than previously possible. Simply put: there aren’t enough hours in the day to consume the content available, requiring another great evolution to marketing theory in order to appease a group of consumers that have become oversaturated with different subject matter.
One of the most positive effects of the massive adoption of content marketing was its open market nature. Sites that developed great content could compete with other sites that may have had more resources available. However, supposing that consumers will grow tired with content marketing, Schaefer predicted that content marketing would produce three major changes to the method:
- Those with access to greater resources (i.e. big businesses) would triumph over those that didn’t have nearly as much, resulting in the price for content being driven-up considerable.
- Expensive content would make it that much harder for the smaller sites to recover from the content blitzkrieg. The necessity for quality keywords, competitor research, and method for tracking results require access to greater resources. With great content now too expensive for many sites, the overwhelming of the market by these larger companies would prohibit sites from entering the market and surviving.
- The surviving content marketers–as a result of their own oversaturation of the market, and the subsequent decline in content demand–will be forced to entice readers in different ways.
This, of course, will require more man hours, funds, and advertising, further limiting the effectiveness–and appeal–that content marketing once possessed.
Think About It
To revisit the parallel with supply and demand: content shock reflects a change in consumer demand. To an extent, readers have become spoiled by the amount of quality material available to them. Dedicated content marketers provide information that is useful and fun, but the fact remains that they will need to change their strategy in order to avoid the oversaturation that may come.
Welcome to the 21st century!
We are no longer monogamous to one piece of technology. Television watching is subsidized by a cellphone on the lap, or a tablet on the table for when the long commercial breaks hit. Device usage amongst current users has rarely been exclusive to one gadget. According to recent studies, a typical multi-screen user consumes at least 7 hours of screen media a day, especially when a lot of business is now done on the Cloud, instead of face-to-face.
And the trend is global. Turns out, more countries than you’d think are turning to multiple devices of technology for entertainment.
As the trend of multi-screening continues to increase in popularity, the demand for interactive devices – that is, devices that can improve a consumer’s experience without becoming a distraction – also remains high.
Multi-screening means multi-tasking. And in today’s startup world, this can mean a lot. When you’re trying to expand your business from local or national to even global, you’ll have to figure out how to enhance your viewer’s experience while keeping in mind they are engaged in other sorts of media.
Find ways to teach your clients how to multi-task with multiple screens, instead of using one screen as a distraction from the last.