Understanding the types of branding or brand strategy that is compatible with our products and services has never been more important in this century.
A handful of organizations still struggle to find a voice in the community because they fail to realize the importance of branding in their business lives.
At Embarque, an SEO content marketing strategy, we always need to emphasize to our clients that branding goes beyond having a catchy logo, an attractive social media profile, or a well-defined name for your business. Branding includes how you talk to your clients, the content that you produce online, the overall experience that a customer has with your brand, and so on.
When done appropriately and accurately, branding explains the reasons behind customers choosing an organization over the other.
What is branding?
In a nutshell, branding is a marketing practice in which an organization comes up with a brand logo, brand name, brand color, or brand design that represents the true individuality and character of the organization.
Branding gives your customers a picture of what to expect from you anytime they bring out their credit cards to buy what you sell.
Branding is associated with all marketing activities conducted by a company to be a trademark.
The goal of branding is to anchor a brand in the mind of the consumer.
What is brand marketing used for?
Brand marketing or branding aims to position a brand favorably in the mind of the consumer and more precisely of its target consumers (personas). Branding, to be effective, combines the most suitable advertising devices to survive over time without running out of steam and to remain relevant to consumers. If branding should be as timeless as possible, it is partly to ensure the sustainability of the brand.
So we come to its key characteristics. Brand marketing allows a brand to:
- Cater to specific market segments
- Allow you to be different in a saturated market
- Allow your product to be positioned to the target customers
- Create a strong identity
- Unite a target community around it
- To communicate within a specific framework without deviating from it.
Brand marketing includes all the aspects involved in the image and brand content of a company such as its territory and its style of expression, the description of the quality of its products, its values, its signs of presence therefore ultimately its visual identity. It gives a company a strong personality and a unique identity.
Ultimately, branding allows you to differentiate in a highly-saturated market. When you can’t compete on quality or product, you can differentiate in terms of your branding strategy, which includes the experience you offer to your customers, how you position your offerings, and so on.
Creating your brand with Heine’s brand-building canvas
As an entrepreneur, it’s not enough to set up a business, you’ll need to invest a quality amount of energy in understanding and creating a purpose-driven brand.
The Heine’s Brand-Building Canvas was set up for both Business Modeling and Brand Identity Planning. This aligns your business and branding initiatives. It essentially ensures that your branding works towards achieving your business goals in the short- and long-term.
This is definitely an approach to branding that is more analytical and results-driven. At the same time, it also considers branding as an essential factor in business success.
The Brand-Building Canvas are grouped into nine blocks. Here are pertinent questions that you should be asking with each block for effective branding.
- Brand’s vision. This refers to what you want to achieve as a company. What drives your company to exist? What kind of pain points do you solve?
- Product. What is my product’s value proposition? What makes my product special from my competition? How can I build authority with this product? What are the qualities that make this product attractive to customers?
- Customers. Who are my target users? Who are my first 100 users?
- Brand character. What is my brand’s personality? How does my brand communicate? How do I display my brand’s culture and vision?
- Brand relationship. How do I interact with my stakeholders? What kind of marketing partnerships do I need to fulfill to strengthen my brand? Who are my business partners to further my brand recognition?
- Brand touchpoints. Where do my target users hang out? How should I communicate my brand there? What are the marketing techniques I’ll need to employ to increase my branding there?
- Brand expression. What is my overall messaging for my brand to relay in my marketing strategy?
- Cashflow. How can I generate profits with this type of branding? How is revenue tied to my branding initiatives? How much will my brand-based growth strategies cost?
Simon Sinek’s theory of value proposition
Simon Sinek took time to clarify how to truly differentiate a brand when most fail.
The idea of Sinek’s Golden Circle is an attempt to explain why some people and organizations are particularly capable of inspiring others and successfully differentiating themselves.
The neuroscience behind the Golden Circle idea is that humans respond best when messages communicate with the parts of the brain that control emotions, behavior, and decision making.
Sinek explains that ‘Why’ is probably the most important message that an organization or individual can communicate, as this is what inspires others to act.
‘Why’ is how you explain your purpose and why you exist and behave like you.
Sinek’s theory is that the successful communication of the passion behind ‘Why’ is a way of communicating with the listener’s limbic brain. This is the part of our anatomy that processes feelings like trust and loyalty - as well as making decisions.
The successful articulation of your ‘Why’ is a very impactful way of communicating with other human beings, defining your specific value proposition and inspiring them to act.
Sinek’s theory is that the “why” communication explodes in the part of the listener’s brain that influences behavior. That is why the Golden Circle is considered an influential theory of leadership.
At the organizational level, communicating you’re ‘Why’ is the basis of a strong value proposition that differentiates your brand from others.
The “How” factors of the organization can include its strengths or values that they feel differentiate themselves from the competition.
Sinek’s view is that ‘How’ messages are also able to communicate with the limbic brain - the important part that governs behavior and emotion.
But his view is that organizations would do better to improve the way they articulate their ‘Why’ in addition to ‘How’.
It is quite easy for any leader or organization to articulate what they do. This can be expressed as the products a company sells or the services it offers.
For an individual, it would be their job. Sinek argues that the ‘What’ message is only involved with the neocortex - the part of the brain that is rational.
He argues that this part of the brain is less a driver of decision-making than the limbic brain: the part that ‘Why’ and ‘How’ achieves best. Successful people and organizations express why they do what they do, instead of focusing on what they do.
Types of branding and examples
There are many different strands behind the concept of branding. Here are several types of branding, listed below you’ll find the common ones.
Personal or individual branding
This is popular among celebrities - athletes, musicians, politicians. It’s a form of branding that an individual builds around themselves to further enhance their reputation, identity, and career.
Personal or individual branding is a go-to for salesmen, athletes, jobseekers, or anyone who wants to build influence around themselves in the business world. It’s related to the person’s personal identity, so what they do as a person will define their brand. Personal branding is all about these actions. Therefore, when you’re trying to build a personal brand, make sure that you are doing what people followed you for in the first place.
A relatable example of this is Neil Patel, an SEO expert, and digital marketing expert, who positioned himself in the SEO field as an expert to build his reputation. Neil has a recognizable personal brand, and many from around the world longs to associate with him.
This is any type of branding centered on products.
For B2B brands, especially for online tools and services, providing a quality product or service will help you leverage word-of-mouth referrals to gain more clients.
Have you ever wondered why Monster Energy Drink seems to be quite noticeable across the globe? That’s because the company has invested heavily in product branding. The logo, color, symbols, identity of the product is so distinct and unique that it became the word in everyone’s mouth.
If you’re a company with many different products, your multiproduct branding strategy should not overlap across these different products. Otherwise, this leads to unnecessary confusion and customers will not know how to call your product. Bad for brand recognition.
A successful product branding will consequently lead to customer loyalty, product success, hence, high ROI for the company.
If any organization seeks to build a good reputation around itself through services, products, corporate culture, social responsibility, and employees, they need to build upon their corporate identity.
Corporate branding often seeks to communicate the brand’s core values, character, personality, and mission at every opportunity to contact either existing or prospective customers.
Your corporate identity can be a big differentiator on why people should support your business, over other competitors that might even be offering a superior product or service,
This can also be called regional branding. This type of branding focuses on leveraging the uniqueness of an environment about the other as a selling point for attracting visitors. It’s a popular branding technique used in the tourism industry.
You see geographical branding in action when different countries around the world adopt some specific patterns, symbols, colors, logos for their products and services making them different from other areas.
The goal of geographic branding is most times to enhance the culture of a nation or to empower the reputation.
Areas of the world such as Amsterdam, for example, created a perfect geographic branding with their “I Amsterdam” rebrand, diverting focus from Red Light District and showcasing a better cultural diversity.
This kind of branding incorporates partnership as a multibranding strategy.
Simply defined, co-branding is a category of branding that combines the brands of two or more separate companies with similar goals, products, or services so that the success of one of those brands automatically rubs off on the others.
A perfect illustration of this is when Uber and Spotify partnered on the campaign “soundtrack for your ride”, allowing users to become the DJs of the trip.
Co-branding uses the power and reach of two brands (normally non-competing) to expand each other’s market share by targeting overlapping target audiences.
A multibranding strategy happens when a company releases several products under the same category. Multibranding can either be really explicit (e.g. Oreo and its many different flavors) or a bit more discreet (e.g. L’Oréal and Lancôme are both owned by the same company, L’Oréal Groupe).
As such, an effective multi-branding strategy effectively measures the success of these different products and how they’re targeting different client segments of the markets they’re in.
Some products under a multi-branding strategy are bound to get some of the same clients, but they should be functioning to widen the overall market share of a company. If they’re solely competing against each other and not its competitors, there may be a flaw in the multibranding strategy.
This is the one type of branding whose emphasis and focus rest on the customer. The primal goal isn’t to supply the best products, it’s to create a top-notch customer centered service, and that acts as the selling point.
Service branding creates an attractive impression in the prospect’s mind by adding perceived value which acts as a bait to make them come for more.
Most customers who interact with this branding type are always enthusiastic about getting the bonus attached.
Service branding in a nutshell focus on
- Offering perceived value to clients
- Provide top-quality customer service
- Offering bonuses or extras which act as bait.
Also known as “minimalist branding”, this type of branding is associated with companies who believe their products can speak for themselves.
They assume the quality of their product alone is enough to seize the attention of prospective buyers and will not need branding to blow some whistle.
- They don’t spend ample time creating logos, colors, symbol for their products and services
- Their offerings are relatively cheap compared to those with a notable brand.
Common examples of this are Brandless and M/F. Brandless uses a simple aesthetic design on their website which aligns with their mission of providing the public with moderately expensive supplies.
With the advancement of technology and the advent of social media, no brand can successfully run a business venture without leveraging the online space.
Online branding, also referred to as “internet branding” is a technique for positioning your business on the web.
This includes setting up a website, having an optimized social media profile or page, publishing a blog, setting a YouTube channel, etc.
To build your brand online you might need to:
- Build a website
- Garner your online reviews
- Expand on your digital presence, from social media branding to working on your search engine optimization
- Expand your About Us Page
- Develop a customer reward plan, etc.
Go through platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and study how social media brands engage with their audiences. These social media brands can provide insights into the kinds of posts that you should be doing for your online brand.
Social media branding is all about creating compelling content, and figuring out what kind of content is compelling is by analyzing competing social media brands’ most popular posts. To do this, create a spreadsheet of their most engaged posts, measure their content marketing analytics (e.g. through likes, retweets, comments, etc) and look for patterns (e.g. content type, topic, messages, etc.).
Tips for creating a strong brand
Creating a brand is important, but defining it is more important.
If you don’t define your brand early, the market will do, which might be quite contrary to your business goals. So don’t take the risk of leaving your brand undefined.
Here are a few steps you can follow:
Defining your brand identity
Here are some key steps to figuring out your brand identity:
- Figure out why customers use your service over competitors.
- See how you can position yourself differently from your competitors.
- Doing competitor research and measuring, analyzing and tracking how customers interact with them.
Defining your brand identity is both crucial and complex. Crucial, because it determines how your current or potential customers perceive your business but also how you position yourself in your market. It influences your strategy and ultimately your commercial performance, your turnover.
Complex, because the brand identity reflects and determines at the same time (through a play of reciprocal influences) how a person interacts with your brand.
To have a strong brand identity, a business must be able to provide the same quality of service in any situation, at all times.
Companies that constantly change their logo, design, offer, pricing policy, communication will find it very difficult to build a solid brand identity, or, in other words, a brand identity that has a lasting impact.
Tell your story
The story of your brand conveys the identity and values of your company.
It allows prospects and customers to better identify themselves and gives them a feeling of belonging. With it, you can create an incredibly passionate fan base provided you know how to tell it well.
To create a compelling story of your company you need to:
- Know yourself: the first step is to know who you are. What are your deepest beliefs? What does your brand’s voice sound like?
- It’s not just about a name and logo, but also about principles that will stand the test of time. It requires introspection.
- Have a clear vision: After understanding and creating your identity, you need to stay true to it and be consistent in your communication.
- To do this, develop a vision statement such as a slogan or a value proposition.
- Find your audience: The next step is to find and understand your target audience. You can’t tell a good story without knowing who you’re talking to.
- The key is to choose the right group of buyer’s persona, to know their motivations, fears, needs, wants, and dreams.
- Reduce the field of expertise: After defining your audience, make the connection between your goals and their expectation. This is where you create a pretty strong brand story.
- Find your story: It is best to build your brand story bit by bit. Use the anecdotes that surround your creation, the story of the founder, as well as real experiences of customers, employees, or suppliers.
- Be simple: The goal is to tell a story that arouses emotion while remaining simple.
- What problem are you trying to solve and how do you do it? Finding answers to these questions will help you build valuable storytelling.
- Create a brand message plus elevator’s pitch: as part of your branding process make conscious efforts to consistently communicate who you are, what you offer, and why people should care.
- Allow your prospects to get a decent impression from the moment they set their eyes on your brand. You can do this by creating a well-defined brand message and elevator pitch.
Determine your objectives and ideal client’s segments
Having an understandable brand objective will help navigate your team towards success and also create measurable performance possibilities
It’s essential you determine your brand goals so you can always measure your current status alongside the predefined objectives.
It will also further encourage you to critically examine your practices for alternatives that better enhance growth.
However, it’s not professional to choose just any goal as an objective.
Before creating your objectives you want to create an ideal client segment based on the needs, location, age, buying characteristics, etc.
Your goal is to create objectives tailored to these segments.
Consider the resources at your disposal
Before choosing between the types of branding that best suits your industry, take a reasonable time to consider the resources at your disposal.
For example, product branding won’t be so suitable for an industry that lacks adequate
Figure out your target market
You need to find who you’re catering to. Every industry has its own dynamics, patterns, and goals which seemingly inform its approach to business.
Similarly, every brand strategy comes with different do’s and don’ts coupled with loads of dynamics which may not be fitting for every industry.
The key is to select the appropriate branding techniques that support your industry.
Each industry likely has different goals and objectives it would like to achieve. Each brand strategy has different things to offer your business. However, not every strategy will fit your specific industry.
Use visual content
I cannot emphasize enough that visuals play a vital role in every branding strategy.
This is because it drives more engagement and helps communicate better with the audience.
It also creates a lasting impression and is a large part of what prospects remember about your brand.
According to a study conducted by Hubspot, people prefer to share visuals such as videos and infographics on social media over other types of content.
You need to understand that logos, images, and visual content that look consistent across different platforms lend to better brand recognition.
So you want to make sure your visuals are consistent across multiple social media platforms.
Competition analysis of brand messaging
Your brand messaging is quite important, no doubt. But analyzing your competitors brand messaging techniques about their core values is what gives you a chance in the market.
During this analysis, you’ll need to focus on understanding and collecting the languages they used throughout their content.
You’ll need to study their:
- Study page
- About page
- Product pages, etc.
What’s your branding?
Before concluding on the brand strategy you want to focus on in your organization, you must find out the type of branding that best expresses your intent.
It’s also a good idea to discover the why, how, and what of your business to further have a clearly defined brand identity.
At Embarque, we know how to create a strong online brand and expand your digital presence through content marketing. In particular, search engine optimization with a strong branding strategy can help you reach hundreds and thousands of customers that other types of branding and marketing initiatives would not have allowed you to.