At this point in time, we’re fairly confident that most everyone understands why marketing is important for businesses to succeed. After all, you can offer a truly fantastic product or service, but if you don’t get the word out, how can you expect to grow?
However — believe it or not — the concept of “brand marketing” is still met with some resistance and skepticism. Many consider spending time and money promoting your brand a bit of a waste and prefer to stick to straight product marketing.
But in the age of social media and the internet, your brand is an integral part of your success — good products and services alone won’t sustain you these days.
That’s why brand marketing is an absolute must for companies and brand managers that want to outshine the competition in 2021.
This article will take a look at what brand marketing is, provide some stellar examples, and give a few tips on how you can integrate it into your own marketing strategy.
Ready? Let’s go!
What Is Brand Marketing?
While marketing is the growth and promotion of a company’s products and services, brand marketing is a bit different.
Brand marketing is a long-term strategy that includes one’s “brand” in every aspect — it tells consumers who you are. Its goal is to strategically improve brand recognition, awareness, and reputation through the growth of a loyal customer base.
This can be achieved through “continually and consistently communicating (a) brand's identity and values in meaningful and engaging ways”. For example, when you think of a brand like Coca-Cola — which came in first for “Strongest U.S. brands in 2020” — what comes to mind?
Happiness? Great taste? Comfort? All of the above? Consumers know Coca-Cola’s brand because it’s integrated into everything it does in a meaningful, engaging way — which is the ultimate goal for all brands.
There are many facets of good brand marketing, such as brand personality, brand image, brand communication, brand values, and brand associations. All of these smaller parts add up to define a company’s overall brand marketing approach — with the number one goal being to increase brand awareness.
To better understand this concept, let’s discuss five of the most important aspects of a strong brand marketing strategy.
1. Brand Identity
Brand identity is how a company decides to portray itself and has to do with the visible elements of the brand. From brand names to logos to colors to design styles — everything that visually represents your brand is a part of your brand identity.
Building a positive brand identity is crucial for a company’s success, as it makes selling your products and services much easier. It’s also important that your brand identity is consistent across all touchpoints — it needs to support your brand’s overall image and objectives.
The goal of brand identity? Consumers are able to quickly and easily identify your brand in any location. From your logo to your brand colors, your brand identity needs to be unique to stand out.
2. Brand Values
Brand values are another essential element to any successful brand marketing strategy. Brand values are the beliefs and principles that define what your company stands for.
They should also exemplify your brand’s goals and serve as a roadmap to guide other important, brand-related aspects — such as your brand communication, image, and story.
Brand values help steer your brand marketing strategy, as they serve as constant reminders of what’s truly important to your company.
In a day and age where 43% of consumers will trust a brand whose values align with their own, make sure your brand values are visible and well-integrated into your brand communication.
3. Brand Communication
Your brand communication will cover a wide range of activities — from your ads to your social media posts to conversations between consumers and Customer Service agents.
Essentially, brand communication occurs any time a customer interacts with your brand. Therefore, as part of your brand marketing strategy, you need to have clear guidelines for how your brand will communicate with consumers.
When creating brand communication guidelines, consider what kind of brand personality fits best. Then, mull over the following:
Diction: What kind of vocabulary will you use when speaking with customers — formal or informal?
Tone: What tone will you use during customer interactions? Playful? Serious? Make sure it matches up with your brand identity.
The most important thing is that your brand communication is consistent across all channels. Though it may be tempting to use a different tone depending on the channel, it’s crucial that — no matter what the touchpoint — your brand communication sticks to your preset guidelines.
Why? Because presenting a consistent brand image at all times increases customer trust. But what is brand image? Let’s discuss.
4. Brand Image
While it sounds similar to brand identity, brand image has more to do with consumer perceptions.
Brand image is how customers perceive a brand — which is created based on consumers’ interactions with a brand. Therefore, everything from your social media posts to your website copy helps create your brand image.
However, as a brand manager, you don’t have control over how every consumer will perceive your brand — this is why creating a consistent brand image is both important and incredibly difficult.
Overall, brand image has to do with consumers’ experiences with your brand — not so much your own idea of your brand or your visual representations. Therefore, brand image is an ever-evolving concept and it’s vital that you’re able to track it.
For this, we recommend using advanced brand tracking software, which allows you to consistently track how consumers perceive your brand. This data then makes it possible for you, as a brand manager, to refine your brand marketing strategy.
5. Brand Associations
Finally, there are brand associations. These are the characteristics and qualities that consumers associate with your brand. In this way, they’re closely related to brand image.
Your unique brand associations are what allow you to differentiate your brand from the competition. Ideally, you’ll want to foster positive brand associations that align well with your company’s values and image.
However, negative brand associations do exist and you need to be vigilant so they don’t slip by unnoticed and harm your brand image.
Again, a great, hassle-free way to track brand associations is through the use of brand tracking software. It allows you to choose the associations you want to explore, that way you can get the reliable consumer feedback you need.
Who Excels at Brand Marketing?
While there are thousands of brands that excel at brand marketing, we’re going to discuss two today.
Each example will focus on a brand that really shines in one or more of the aforementioned categories of brand marketing.
1. Sephora: Brand Communication & Brand Identity
Source: Nedap Retail
When it comes to a company with strong brand communication, Sephora definitely stands out.
First, Sephora is fully aware of who comprises its target audience — mainly younger women. Based on our own brand tracking survey data, we found that 42% of female Millennials have already purchased from Sephora. Impressive!
And because this brand knows who its audience is, it knows how to effectively speak to them. Using more informal diction and a relaxed tone of voice, Sephora positions itself as a reliable, yet down-to-earth brand that’s here to help you succeed. This fits in seamlessly with their brand identity.
Considering how Sephora communicates, they’ve done an excellent job of “merging the digital experience with offline retail and personalizing customers’ beauty experiences” by using customer data to inform brand marketing decisions.
On social media, Sephora excels at driving engagement and maintaining a consistent tone of voice no matter the situation. Offering hundreds of tutorials and beauty videos both here and on its mobile app, Sephora understands (and provides) what its target audiences want — to check out products before making purchases.
Finally, Sephora’s email marketing strategy integrates flawlessly with its overall brand communication approach. With every email tailored to each individual customers’ preferences, its informal, personalized approach fits well with their brand identity: experts in beauty who are here to help you be your best.
Most importantly, Sephora maintains a consistent brand voice across all channels — making for a reliable customer experience at every turn.
The takeaway? Utilize research on your target audience to influence your brand communication and make sure your brand voice and personality match up with your chose brand identity.
When it comes to creating a strong brand marketing strategy, consistency is key.
2. Dollar Shave Club: Brand Values & Brand Associations
Dollar Shave Club, a company that delivers razors and personal grooming products via mail, is a brand that excels at highlighting its brand values and building positive brand associations in communication.
To flesh this concept out, let’s examine this brand’s main USPs: inexpensive, risk-free, easy to use, and convenient. All of these characteristics are highlighted in DSC’s brand communication — with a fun, witty approach being taken, DSC uses humor to keep its diction informal and its visuals interesting.
In an interview with Brandfolder, DSC explained: “from our packaging to our digital presence to our media strategy, the DSC brand identity informs everything we do.” Translation? DSC’s brand identity is reflected everywhere — especially in its brand values and positive brand associations.
When it comes to DSC’s brand values, they aim to be innovative, inclusive, curious, and disruptive. In many ways, this company’s brand values are reflected in its USPs — they want to disrupt the shaving industry by providing products that are innovative, less expensive, and more inclusive.
By aligning their brand values with their USPs and maintaining consistent brand communication at all touchpoints, DSC has also been able to build positive brand associations — such as reasonably priced, high-quality products, and a superior experience.
Most importantly, Dollar Shave Club’s brand is part of every aspect of its marketing strategy. From their communication to their image, the DSC brand identity is incredibly strong — which is what makes this brand stand out from the competition.
The takeaway? Use your brand USPs to support your brand values. This way, you can build positive brand associations that align with your brand identity and help you gain and maintain customer loyalty and advocacy.
If you have not yet integrated your brand into all aspects of your marketing strategy, now is the time to start. It’s never too late to start pushing your brand.
And remember — while having high-quality products and services is important, without a strong brand marketing strategy, you’re bound to fade from consumers’ minds. And that just won’t do!
To take your brand marketing strategy to the next level, check out our brand tracking software — which will allow you to refine your brand communication and image, as well as track brand associations.