The term brand is one of those words that is widely used, but often not fully understood. What does the word mean and how has the meaning and application changed over the years?
The very first definitions of brand was the name give to a service or product from a specific place or provider, and in this sense it has similarities with the word Trademark.
The origins of branding stem from over a century ago when cattle ranchers used irons to mark which animals were their own. Towards the end of the 20th century marketers began to realise there was something more to specific products and services than their names, described by David Ogilvy as“the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Marketers began to realise it was possible to create more specific perceptions in customer’s minds regarding the qualities of each brand’s offerings, and took to calling this perception “the brand”.
Consider how each of the following elements work together to help you create a strong brand:
- The promise your brand makes: when considering your brand think about the brand promise – what does your business aim to do? If you are a bouncy castle hire service, would you chose muted colours?
- How your brand is perceived: Consumers place expectations on you based on your brand so consider how you are currently perceived and who your target audience is.
- What do people expect from you when they see your brand? What do your audience know about you, your brand is an extension of your reputation.
- The persona your brand reflects: By simply looking at your branding your customers should feel like they know you.
- What expectations have you built with your brand? With all of the above considered your customers should get a strong sense of who you are, not just what you do or sell.
A strong brand image and the continuity of branding across different media is something that has played a big role in the success of companies for years. A simple logo replicated across multiple platforms including; uniforms, company vehicles, letter heads, packaging, bags, business cards, signage – the value of consistency should not be underestimated.
If you have a logo and business cards, then you have a brand, and you should think of your web presence as an extension of this brand. People connect with a company when it has a strong and clear identity, instilling confidence and getting you more leads, so make sure you have the following areas covered.
Crucial areas for brand continuity
- Channels – The concept of merging your offline and online marketing efforts seems like a no brainer – Utilising online channels, that will back up your ongoing offline printed marketing campaigns is crucial to make the most of both mediums.
- Website – Your website is the ultimate interactive brochure for your business, just as you wouldn’t let a printed brochure out with the wrong colour scheme, your website should match your offline branding
- Social media – Make the most of your company’s voice on social media sites with a branded banner at the top, a clear profile image and cover photos of your business, to help portray a more professional and consistent image that bridges the gap between your website and printed marketing materials
- Search engines – You need to manage how Google and other search engine represent your business on the various places they may create profile pages for your business. In some cases we have started working with new customers who had Maps pages showing photos of their competitors due to the information being “scraped” from an incorrect online directory page. Register and ensure you upload your correctly sized logo to the following: Google+ Places, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, Yell.com, Thomsonlocal.co.uk,
- Email marketing – Email marketing can deliver high returns on investment, but continuous branding, using your common brand colours and fonts is vital to keep potential customers in tune.
Thanks to social media marketing the gap between online and offline marketing is shrinking. Being active on social media isn’t enough, though. You need to know how to seamlessly and effectively tie both types of marketing together. Here are some easy tips to help you get started:
Maximise every branding opportunity
Customers respond more favourably to companies that maintain consistent branding in print and online. Use the same logos, fonts and graphics to make it easy for customers to identify your company on the Internet and in real life.
Use consistent messaging
There isn’t any benefit to using one message online while using something completely different offline. The goal is to build familiarity and relationships with customers so they automatically think of you and your company when they need a product or service that you provide. This is also important because customers are more likely to connect with your business online when they recognise it from offline marketing efforts (and vice versa!).
Promote Your Social Profiles
It’s great to raise awareness about your website, store or blog through offline marketing efforts, but you should make a point of promoting your social media profiles too. When sharing your Facebook, Twitter and other social media profile information, include corresponding logos so people instantly know your company is available on social media. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, it’s easier than ever for people to quickly find your profile and become fans or followers on the spot.
Promote offline events on social media
Don’t just promote your online presence through offline advertising efforts. Promote real-life events online too through blogging press releases and social media too. For instance, alert followers to when you will be attending trade shows and invite your online followers to specific events and more on social media.
The bottom line is synergy
Online and offline marketing are simply better together. The powerful combination can yield better results than either one can on its own. See our new services including fully managed social media marketing packages, so we can help you get the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin for the benefit your business.