Prepare yourself for some information that will be new to no one. Are you ready?
To be successful, it's vital that you market your brand. After all, it shows customers who you are, what you do, and gives them something to identify with.
This is news to no one; every brand and every marketer knows this. However, knowing this to be fact and knowing where to start with marketing a brand are two vastly different things. And by taking the wrong steps, you'll end up with a less-than-efficient process that does your brand no favours.
So, with this upcoming series of posts, we’ll look at how you can market your brand and what steps you can take to make sure it's properly positioned and optimized for the most revenue and success. However, before getting to that, we’ll look at the basics like what your brand is and some initial steps to take in marketing your brand.
1. What Is Your Brand?
Before looking at the first step in marketing your brand, let’s first look at what exactly your brand is.
A formal definition of a brand could be that it is a feature or set of features that distinguishes one business from another and typically consists of a name, a tagline, a logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more.
In simpler terms, it refers to the overall experience a customer has when interacting with a business when, for instance, they shop at the business, follow the business on social media, or even walk past the business on the street.
Now, you might think that your business is doing fine and that your ads are running well, so you don't need to spend more time and effort on marketing your brand than you already do. If you think this, you should perhaps reconsider.
Your brand is arguably one of your business’s most valuable assets.
It gives your business an identity beyond merely your product or service and it gives customers something that they can relate to and connect with. It also makes your business memorable which helps customers distinguish your business from your competitors and, in doing so, it supports and improves your marketing and advertising efforts.
In fact, your brand can be the deciding factor when consumers make a buying decision. In a 2015 global survey, almost 60% of shoppers said they would rather buy from brands they know and 21% said they bought a product because they liked the brand.
A perfect example of branding that does all these things, is that of Apple. Is the iPhone the best phone on the market? Are Apple products the best there is? Well, they certainly could be, however determining whether Apple products are the best is not in the scope of this post. But the fact is that many customers buy Apple products not because they're the best, but because they identify with Apple's values and the brand.
And that's the point, your brand gives customers something they can identify with and if they do, they'll buy more of it.
So, now the immediate question is what your first step should be when marketing your brand. Typically, you'll follow some sort of process to establish and market your brand to your customers and you'll find a lot of information online about the different variations of this process. So, let's take a look at some core steps in this process.
2. Define Your Values
Often, the first step will be to define your brand values. This means that you develop a strong mission statement and company culture with which customers can identify. In other words, your values are your story, it’s a way of telling customers who you are, what do you do, and why it matters.
So, to define your values you ask questions like who you are, what your story is, what your beliefs, your convictions and your principles are, what drives you, and why you do what you do. Remember, these questions relate to you and your business and they're not a way of trying to sell something to customers, but rather to open the door to let customers in.
If you look at the Apple example again, its answers to these questions might lead to the following mission statement:
“Apple wants to bring the best user experience to their customers through the use of their innovative design, hardware, software, and services.”
This mission has taken the brand from being a mere computer company to being a lifestyle product.
As a result, there are plenty of customers that identify with this mission statement, with some buying the products for their design and the way they work, and others buying the products because of the user experience. Irrespective of the reason why people buy the product, Apple’s mission statement has arguably made it one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Another example of this is Nestle.
Nestle has given Malaysians some of our most beloved and well-known brands, including Milo, Nescafe, Koko Krunch and Maggi.
Nestle's purpose is to unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, and to make a difference for people and pets, the environment, and their shareholders and stakeholders. This purpose is also geared towards creating value for people and communities around the world.
This purpose has worked well for them, translating to Nestle becoming the largest food and beverage company in the world, with more than 2,000 brands in 187 countries worldwide. Furthermore, Nestle is so skilled in providing local context that it has become well-integrated into our Malaysian identity; everyone knows Milo trucks in schools have the best Milo, and that Maggi goreng is a stable in any mamak shop.
3. Determine Where You Fit In
The next step would be to figure out where you fit into the market, and this is crucial for your success. The first thing you’ll want to know is who your competition is. This is simply because you can't know where you're going to if you don't know who you're competing against.
The next inquiry is what makes you stand out from your competitors? You'll have to find that differentiating feature that makes you stand out from the crowd and will prevent you from disappearing into the masses. Here think of a company like Nike.
Nike has a brand identity that details its identity from a sender (Nike's) and receiver (consumer's) perspective, and differentiates between the internalisation versus externalisation of their brand identity. In the clarity and creativity behind their brand identity, they are able to find their feet in a market full of training, running, and lifestyle shoes; standing out simply because they have unique designs, great product quality, and excellent innovation.
Another example of a brand that uses their values to find where they fit is Shopee.
Shopee entered the market when Lazada was without a doubt the top e-commerce platform in Malaysia. Staying true to their purpose of using technology to connect buyers and sellers, they introduced features like Shopee Live, Shopee Quiz and Shopee Feed, all of which provided a social community within the e-commerce environment that was well-designed and user-friendly, lending the platform more credibility.
This led to Shopee becoming the most clicked e-commerce site in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2020, with 27 million clicks in a span of three months, with Lazada trailing behind at 12 million clicks.
Likewise, you'll have to find your brand’s differentiating feature, and this will be one of the cornerstones of your brand.
4. Understand Your Customers and Add Value To Their Lives
The next step will almost always be to understand your customer and add value to their lives. This is probably the most important part of building your brand because it ultimately determines the success of your organization.
Here, you want to know how your customers perceive you and what their needs are. If you establish this, in helping to address customers’ needs you will then create value for customers. This will allow you to acquire new customers, retain existing customers, increase your brand awareness, and stand out in the marketplace.
The first thing you should do to create value for customers is by seeing your customers’ perspective.
This means you need to have empathy in order to understand their problems. By knowing their problems, and knowing the ins and outs of your own product or service, you will know how your product or service can solve their problems.
Thus, the way in which you can add value to your customers' lives lies in the overlap between what their needs are, and your product or service, as shown in the diagram below.
This will create a shift from ‘selling’ to ‘helping’; where you provide valuable resources for your customers that they can use to solve their problem.
The second instance to add value is by consistently working to improve customer satisfaction.
Remember, a happy customer is a returning customer, so as you improve customer satisfaction you indirectly also improve your sales and revenue.
The third way in which you can create value for customers is by developing and implementing a stellar customer experience.
This means you'll have to consider every touchpoint in your business that customers interact with and decide how they can be improved. The more touchpoints you have, the more extensive your checks on customer experience needs to be.
Below is an example of all the brand touchpoints that would contribute to a customer's experience with a certain brand. All of these touchpoints are a potential positive (or negative) experience with the brand.
Continuous checks or audits of your brand touchpoints will not only improve your customers' experience of your brand, it will also allow you to build stronger relationships with your customers. This means you also increase your chances of success because you're more likely to benefit from referrals and higher client retention.
Ultimately, it's this process or some variation thereof that you'll use in marketing your brand to your customers. But we believe that by following this process you neglect a crucial part of marketing your brand. Don't get us wrong, these are all very important steps to take and they are vital to ensure success in your branding efforts, but we’ll argue that before taking these steps, you should first know where your brand stands.
That brings us to the real first step in marketing your brand.
The Real First Step in Marketing Your Brand
You've probably noticed in all the steps above that they rely on a lot of questions. For example, in determining where you fit into the market, you'll have to ask who your competitors are, what features differentiate you from your competitors, who your customers are, what their problems are, and many more.
And the only way you'll know the answers to these questions and get a complete view of your brand (before you start to market it) is by knowing where your brand stands, or in other words, doing market and brand research before you start marketing.
In doing this, you will be able to take measure of your brand. Knowing where your brand stands will help you to know what to do next and what areas of your business to focus on. It will give you a great indication of what customers want to see from your brand and whether steps like customer education or building awareness is the best course of action to improve.
Likewise, it will show you where you stand compared to your competitors, and using this perspective, you will be able to improve your methods to make you more competitive.
By not taking this step, you’ll be in the dark and often miss vital details in your whole brand improvement strategy.
To sum up, remember this checklist when thinking about marketing your brand, and remember that knowing where your brand stands helps to inform your marketing and branding efforts:
- Know where your brand stands
- Define your values
- Determine where you fit in
- Understand your consumers and add value to their lives
Marketing your brand is vital, and the first step in doing so is by conducting the necessary research so that you know exactly where your brand currently stands and what you need to improve on. This will form the foundation of your strategy from there on out.
To make establishing your brand value easier for you, our platform can help you do a brand audit, brand tracking, or a brand health survey, to make sure that your brand value is the best it could be. The various methods will be detailed further in our next post.
Until then, start thinking about what you would like to find out from consumers about your brand.