Creating brand experiences in retail, financial, and healthcare, we continually advocate for a strategy-first approach to marketing brands. That means paying dogged attention to brand essentials and not losing focus when the next shiny object comes along. In a fast-paced brand environment, companies that don’t develop a framework for brand marketing activities simply cannot keep pace. With marketing touchpoints exploding, how are companies creating meaningful relationships in an overcrowded consumer marketplace? Here’s what we focus on.
1) Aligning Values
One of the best ways to continually create something that lives on in the hearts and minds of consumer audiences is to identify and align your values with what your customers care about. This means recognizing what your brand stands for and not just talking the talk but walking the walk. Brands must understand consumers – especially Gen Z and Millennials – expect a lot. They want good products to be sure. But brands can no longer just be good; they must do good, as well. The most enduring brands recognize that success is less about what you are selling and more about who you are that matters.
"Successful brand marketing really boils down to knowing your audience so well that you already know the consumer demand for your brand. You shouldn’t need to manufacture it"
2) Building Trust
Trust is a hugely important but largely shrinking commodity. Brand trust, in particular, is built through customer experience and positively associated with brand loyalty, which is key for brand equity. Consumers have to trust your brand to buy-in, return, and tell others, contributing to the consumer perception of a brand. How to build trusting relationships differs from brand to brand, but ensuring you are human and transparent is non-negotiable. The best companies also embrace consumer feedback. Giving consumers a voice to developing a better brand makes them feel valued and vested in your success.
3) Strategy Matters
It may seem hard to believe, but there are still some brands that haven’t developed an overarching brand strategy and a plan for delivering on it every day. In this era of the uber-savvy consumer, these companies have become easier to spot. Focusing on the latest technology or trend, the consumer gets one experience in one channel and a totally different one in another. Brands with a strategy understand that your experience with them should be cohesive across touchpoints, resulting in meaningful consumer communication and connection. Be a brand with a plan.
4) Customer Journey
Top brands today understand that they have to evolve to continually wow consumers. Innovation and continual improvement need to be part of the DNA of your brand. Lackluster brand experience speaks to how some companies are still set up primarily as a way to do business rather than as a way for customers to experience a brand. This means that a brand is less prepared to respond to competitive challenges from outside their walls. Developing a framework for continually evaluating and elevating experience is vital.
5) Brand Story
In today’s brand environment, it’s important to understand that you can’t control everything. Like it or not, your brand is co-created by users and others outside your brand. That’s why it’s vital to develop strong brand differentiation and brand story. How better to have people understand your brand than storytelling? Without strong brand fundamentals, others will define you strictly on their terms and take control of your brand’s story. You have to be the driver of your brand’s story arc, but be flexible enough to have others shape your story along the way.
The Takeaway: Successful brand marketing really boils down to knowing your audience so well that you already know the consumer demand for your brand. You shouldn’t need to manufacture it. While that may sound completely logical, brand marketers also understand that most purchase decisions are emotional. So, where it gets complicated is making sure that you’re in the right place at the right time for what marketers like to call that ‘moment of truth.’ Focusing on these five foundational elements of brand marketing will help ensure you’re in the prime position at that defined time.