In a digital world where a wide range of products and services are accessible to everyone, brand value can be a decisive factor in the purchasing process. That’s why brand management is one of the top growth fields, and understanding its key principles will make your organization and its products more viable. The top brands in the world don’t necessarily spend a ton of money on branding, they know how to utilize strategic brand management to enhance their brand in a sustainable way. Here are five simple and effective brand management principles.
Leverage Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from competing companies. A timeless example is M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. This USP turned slogan shows how this candy is different from other candies, which – as it implies – ostensibly melt in your hand.
To understand your unique selling proposition, you must first understand where your product and company fit into the market. What makes your product different than the competition? Is it more durable, cheaper, etc.? And how is your company different? Maybe it’s more innovative or stable. Whatever it is, you should define it. Just write it out; for example: “My company is the most creative and our product is the most stylish”.
Once you’ve defined your USP, you can leverage it. Take that generic definition and turn it into some sexy key messaging. Use this as the backbone of your marketing activities, you’ll be surprised at how often it pops up. If you’ve designated someone as the brand manager, they should be the key messaging champion.
Develop Your Brand With Target Groups in Mind
When you ideate and evolve your brand, you should do so collaboratively. Getting buy-in from other departments and external stakeholders helps you incorporate other views into the brand that you may have missed. For instance, your product team might understand how customers use your product and you can facilitate continuity throughout the buying process. Sales might have a better understanding of market competition and pain points for the buyers. Your partners and customers will also have different perspectives.
Getting buy-in is important for ensuring the entire organization can understand and communicate your brand. This is essential for maintaining brand consistency. You want to be sure every department knows how to represent the brand in all communication with all externals from customers to partners and suppliers. Make your employees your brand ambassadors.
If you develop your brand in a way that incorporates the opinions and feedback from your colleagues, you’ll have a more shareable and holistic brand. Customers who meet your fellow employees at conferences or at the office will instantly know what your brand represents and understand its connection to your company and product.
Make Sure Marcom Pushes Brand Awareness
You can create the most innovative brand in the world but if nobody hears about it then what good does it do? Promoting brand awareness is – implicitly or explicitly – part of every marketing activity. Ensure your brand is being marketed effectively and efficiently by taking into account the the effect every marketing activity has on your brand. This is true across every channel and encompasses all activities.
Marketing your brand effectively is about choosing the channel and appropriate means. For instance, if your brand is about innovation and the bleeding-edge of technology, then you may want to market your brand through content marketing on a channel like LinkedIn. You could start becoming a thought-leader in the space of technological innovation and use your brand as the ‘calling card’ in your key messaging. It should be subtle, for instance, just a message in your byline showing your position and company will suffice.
So how can you market your brand efficiently? Many of the channels you already use can be tweaked to focus more on brand marketing. Many marketers use paid social media for product marketing. But with some simple changes to your ads, you can use these channels to gain followers on your brand page. For instance, on LinkedIn, you can choose to target company follows. You can also market your brand for free on these channels by effectively utilizing good brand messaging with interesting social media content. Take some cues from some of your favorite brands on social media, you may get some good ideas.
Let Influencers Evangelize Your Brand
The most effective way to market your brand is to have someone else do it. And who better to do it than an influencer your target market already trusts. The theory is simple, if I tell you something is great but I’m selling it you may be suspicious, but someone who doesn’t have a vested interest is more trustworthy and you’ll be more likely to believe their opinion. This is called the third-person effect.
With the advent of the digital marketplace, influencers have sprung up all over and are taking roles formerly filled by journalists and review companies. Do some searching on social media and see what kind of influencers are in your industry. There are also agencies that connect your brand with potentially helpful third-party spokespeople.
Establishing and maintaining a relationship with an influencer is challenging but with the right touch you can maintain a mutually beneficial partnership. Engagement is key here. Just like any other relationship, you need to communicate. This is most commonly done over social media but there are other important venues like live events or webinars. And when you engage with your influencers, be sure to respect their impartiality.
Maintain Brand Consistency
People come and go, processes and even products change, but your brand is the rock. And while steady brand evolution is important, the core brand doesn’t change. One part of the brand that’s often difficult to manage is the visual elements that represent it. The images, videos, color scheme and logos are easier created than consistently used, but using the right tools can simplify it.
The center of your visual brand management should always be your digital asset management (DAM) system. A DAM allows you to easily store digital assets like images, videos, presentations, logos, design files, documents and other brand assets with metadata for better searchability.
Find out which DAM provider you’re using. Some companies have in-house systems so you might need to do a little digging in IT. If your DAM system is already in place, intuitive and easy-to-use, you should ensure it’s part of everyone’s workflow. This will make your brand management efforts much simpler and help you create better content more efficiently.
If you want to learn more brand management principles, check out these excellent resources: