Why your business needs a strong brand identity
A strong brand is an essential component of your differentiation strategy. It helps prospects and customers recognize and remember you. It can also help build an emotional connection with them, and may lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
A successful branding campaign relies on four core ingredients:
- Your values
- Your target audience
- Your unique proposition
- Your marketing plan
Every marketing activity serves two purposes – to communicate with your audience and to reinforce your brand. The more effectively you can do this, the stronger your brand becomes.
1. Set out your stall – highlight your values
Start by defining your values – these are what your customers will identify with. There needs to be clear congruence between what you say you value and what they see in practice, e.g. if you promote cleanliness as a value, your place of business, your staff, vehicles and products should reflect that. If you claim to be responsive, then calls, messages, enquiries need to be dealt with promptly. We’ve all been left on hold for 10-15 minutes listening to a looped recording telling us how important our call is to them. Don’t be that company. The same applies to your mission statement or vision.
All aspects of your operations including logos, website design, social media posts and customer interactions should be consistent and should reflect the identity you have chosen. First impressions last so you will want that impression to be positive.
Remember: The more consistent & cohesive your messaging is, the easier it is for people to recognize and remember you.
2. Know your audience
Your brand is an expression of who you are and what you stand for. But it doesn’t stand in isolation. It is a form of communication and is directed specifically at your target audience. This audience will typically share your values and support your vision and mission.
So you need to know and understand who these people are, what they need and want, where they can be found and how your products and services solve their problems.
Without this knowledge your marketing must be generic, i.e. you’re trying to sell to everyone. Investing in research and analysis will give you insights into your ideal customers’ motivation and allow you to create messaging and offers that directly address their issues.
These unique value propositions will also differentiate you from your competitors, making you stand out more in the marketplace.
3. Define your unique proposition
A unique proposition sets you apart from your rivals. The three most common are unique selling proposition (USP), unique buying proposition (UBP) and unique value proposition (UVP). Of these, I believe the UVP to be the most useful, simply because it focuses on value and value is determined by the customer.
Start by identifying what makes you special – this can be something “big” e.g. market leader, technical innovator, or something “small” e.g. the only vendor in your area. The question then is whether this is important to your customer. If it’s important to you but not to your customer you will need to either find a different something special, or try to educate your customer as to why they should value it, e.g. highlight benefits rather than features.
Ask your customers why they choose you. Whatever is the most common response, that’s your unique proposition because that’s why they buy from you and not from someone else. Once you’ve identified this communicate it clearly and concisely. Simplicity is key. If it’s too complex or takes too long to read or explain, you’ll lose your audience.
4. Develop an effective marketing plan
A well crafted marketing strategy is essential. Once you have identified your target audience and your unique proposition you can start working on your marketing plan. Use this to set targets and deadlines, define relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), and assign responsibilities. Create budgets for each advertising and marketing activity in each of the channels you intend to use. Your plan will most likely include a mix of traditional and digital measures depending on your particular set up and where your audience is.
Consumers expect information to be readily available. Regardless of whether you use social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, mobile apps or print media, it is crucial to cater for your target audience’s specific preferences. The key lies in tailoring your messaging for the channel you are using while maintaining consistency across all channels used.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok and YouTube provide real time engagement opportunities. LinkedIn and similar sites offer professional networking capabilities.
Google remains the single biggest search engine, followed by YouTube (also owned by Google). Content marketing designed to rank in searches can be effective in attracting new customers by providing valuable information that builds trust. You can also take advantage of the huge volume of traffic on Google and YouTube by placing paid advertising.
While it is tempting to try to develop a multi channel marketing strategy, unless you have a big budget and enough staff to run simultaneous campaigns across multiple channels, choose the media that:
(a) you are competent in; and
(b) your audience use the most.
Your audience is unlikely to be highly active on multiple platforms and/or physical media channels. So pick one or two you are comfortable with and where you know they are likely to be. If you are a local business and most of your customers live within 5-10 miles of your location, Facebook or Instagram and your local radio or newspaper are the ones most likely to be relevant. If your customers are other businesses, then LinkedIn is probably useful, as well as trade publications.
Regardless of the channels and tactics you choose, you need to measure your results regularly. This involves tracking metrics such as footfall, transaction volume, average transaction value, online traffic, conversions (e.g. subscribes, likes, follows, shares, comments etc.), and customer feedback. Analyzing these metrics on an ongoing basis will help you identify areas for improvement and to adjust your strategies accordingly.
Make sure the results of each tactic can be measured independently of the others, otherwise you will struggle to know which are successful and should be increased, and which are unsuccessful and should be changed or stopped.
Your brand should communicate who you are, what you are about and why people should deal with you. It distinguishes you from your competition.
A successful branding campaign incorporates four key ingredients:
- Clear values
- Target audience
- Unique proposition
- Marketing plan
The more effectively you communicate with your audience, the stronger your brand becomes.
Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing attention and inspiring action. Video testimonials, personal narratives and case studies can be used effectively to showcase the impact your products and services can have. They help establish trust and build credibility. More importantly, they tap into our natural desire for connection and meaning.
Most people do not regard themselves as ‘good’ storytellers and so shy away from this. However, the story doesn’t have to be a work of art. It needs to be honest, and real. A sincere testimonial can be tremendously powerful.
The best way to elicit stories is by talking to your customers. Be interested in them and in what they have to say. Listen, allow them to tell you in their own words what is important to them and they will naturally tell you why they are your customers.
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