Branding: The Ultimate Guide For Brand Owners

Branding Ultimate guide

Branding is one of the many concepts in marketing that we hear a lot about but is very elusive to define.  

Brand owners may want to be seen as providing products with “unique desired value” … but, whether customers perceive that “unique desired value” is where a brand can succeed or fail.

Of all the explanations of what branding really means, the best one I have found is this. Branding is not the product. It is not the product’s logo or packaging. It’s not even a competitive positioning, a set of values, or an idle promise.

When a brand recommends itself to a customer what it is actually saying is,”Use me, and this is the new you that you can become.” If you take this idea of branding, you are not branding the product at all. You are branding a “new you” of the customer via your branded product.

I like this notion of branding, because it is less inward-looking about the product and what it stands for. It is outward-facing and  customer-centric, and more oriented towards how it can help transform a customer’s life.

Contents ...

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Definitions of branding and the many directions they take

I am always wary of definitions because the more definitions of a topic I read, the more confused I get. But it is worth noting what some top-grade marketing minds have described “branding” as … it may give us many angles of approach for this concept called “branding.”  Here are a collection of definitions (all from different perspectives that I thought would help you, my reader, get a better grip on what the term branding encompasses.

Seth Godin

"A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

Heidi Cohen

"Brands are shorthand marketing messages that create emotional bonds with consumers. A brand creates perceived value for consumers through its personality in a way that makes it stand out from other similar products."

David Ogilvy

"A brand is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised."

Philip Kotler

"A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitor."

Jay Baer

"Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa."

What did you get from all of these definitions? Are you any closer to understanding what branding is? Or would you prefer my own definition that I gave you before?  

Shobha Ponnappa

"A product's branding is the belief it can create in consumers' minds of how it can uniquely transform them into new versions of themselves. I can hear consumers asking a brand, "It's all very well what you say about yourself, but what's in it for me?"

Stats Corner: 10 data points on branding and its importance

  1. 88 percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support. (Stackla)
  2.  46 percent of consumers say that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust. (Salsify)
  3. using a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80 percent. (Reboot)
  4. It takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for people to form an opinion about your brand and website. (8ways)
  5. consistent presentation of a brand has seen to increase revenue by 33 percent. (Lucidpress)
  6. 66 percent of consumers think transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand. (Accenture)
  7. Two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers around the world said that they would buy from a brand or boycott it solely because of its position on a social or political issue. (Edelman)
  8. 73 percent of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. (PWC)
  9. 77 percent of consumers buy from brands that share the same values as they do. (Havas Group)
  10. 79 percent of people say that user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. (Stackla)

The 8 key branding-related topics marketers need to know

There are so many facets to branding that it may take a ton of textbooks to explain it all. But, here, in this article, I want to give you a serious yet quick overview of the whole landscape of branding. I have it for you in 8 sub-topics. 
8 Branding-Related Topics
(Please use this infographic with credits intact.) 

1. Why is branding important and what are its benefits

Many people think branding is restricted to how the product’s logo, advertising, or packaging is designed. This is a highly superficial perception of branding. In truth, by branding itself, a product (or service, person, or company) chooses to show consumers how it differs from the competition and what it can do for consumers. This message is the beginning of branding. 

Some call it a promise from the brand to the consumer and say it’s the most important part of branding. Some others say how the product positions itself as different from the competition lingers most in consumer minds. And yet some others say branding is the personality of your product – if your product is a person, would a consumer like to know, get familiar with, and learn to trust that person?

We come to an important point here: trust. Eventually, whatever you do with a brand’s logo design, advertising message, or website, the whole idea is to create a feeling in the target consumer that this brand is worth knowing, getting close to, and trusting. 

Without trust, there can be no sales. Without sales, there can be no business earnings. This is the simple driving force behind all marketing. How to build brand trust is the goal of the game.

So, in summary, the importance of branding is about how a product’s presence, message, personality, or attributes create an intuitive feeling in the consumer that: “This brand seems better than others and is worth befriending and trusting to deliver what it says.”

6 benefits to branding your product, service, people, or business ...

1. Improved recognition: A strong brand makes it easier for customers to identify and recognize your company and its products or services. With increased recognition of your brand, there is also an added advantage that your brand will be recalled to consumers’ memories faster than competitive brands. This can all help build loyalty and repeat business.

2. Increased value: A well-known and trusted brand is often perceived as being of higher value than similar, lesser-known brands. This can help you charge a premium price for your products or services. This is also why experts tell you never to think a low price equals more sales. Low prices can erode brands’ perceived value.

3. Enhanced reputation: A positive brand reputation can help attract new customers and partnerships and encourage employee pride and satisfaction. Brands that enjoy a sterling market reputation are those people like to be associated with, as the reputation value rubs off on them too.

4. Greater market share: A strong brand can help you stand out in a crowded market, making customers more likely to choose your products or services over those of your competitors. Brands that consistently do better than customers carve out substantial market shares for themselves as they race ahead in the stakes. They become difficult to dislodge.

5. Increased customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand they know and trust. This can help reduce the cost of customer acquisition and increase the lifetime value of each customer. To the customer, too, the cost of constantly looking for new brands to replace the old ones is a tiresome exercise. So loyalty becomes attractive to both buyer and seller.

6. Improved stakeholder morale: Employees and freelancers are often proud to work for a well-known and respected brand, leading to increased confidence and productivity. This can also make it easier to attract top talent to your company. If you’d like to get into beneficial joint ventures or partnerships or extend your product range, you’ll find it much easier if your brand is respected.

A great example of how branding can be described and appreciated ...

Sometimes it helps to see people talk about branding and its importance. That’s why I picked this video as an example – it’s from EnvisionIT Solutions, and it has their “Table Talk” guys, Kevin and Mike, trying to explain “branding.” The fact that they are struggling to cage the idea of branding into a small understandable concept is funny. But in the end, they get the main points out, and that’s all that matters.

Watch this video to see how difficult branding is to explain – but when we see excellent branding, we sense how powerfully it can pull us!

2. Types of branding and their distinctive characteristics

There are many ways to break up branding into its sub-types. The system I like to follow is this one. Here it’s about which part of the business is the most recognized brand.

Personal Brands: People like to brand themselves as the principal product or spearheads of their businesses. Their branding and values permeate the business. Solopreneurs, professional entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even some big business owners like Elon Musk or Richard Branson like the idea of being personal brands taller than their businesses.

Product Brands or Service Brands: These are the two typical types of brands we often encounter. The business or owner may not be as well recognized as the product or service. For example, Dove Soap or FedEx  – where the product or service brand is how we recall these businesses.

Company Brands: Some companies like to sound more recognizable than their owners or products (the idea is that the umbrella corporate brand must survive new owners or new products). Airbnb and Starbucks are great examples.

Purpose Brands: This is a relatively new class of businesses that like to make a brand out of their purpose (thus giving themselves more room to extend their product ranges deeper at a later stage into their purpose territory). The Body Shop and Imperfect Foods are two great brands that grew out of solid purposes.

C-Suite Brands: In some cases, neither the business owners nor the products are the heroes of branding, but the CEOs (or other C-Suite Officers of the business) are made the brands most listened to. Indira Nooyi of Pepsico and Sundar Pichai of Google are some excellent examples. They speak publicly, write op-eds often, and become voices of power in top management circles.

6 other ways you can break up branding into types of brands ...

1. Consumer brands: These are brands that individuals consume, such as food and beverage brands, clothing and fashion brands, and household product brands. They are often referred to as B2C brands, i.e., delivered from businesses to consumers. Within this category, we also have the FMCGs – Fast Moving Consumer Goods like toiletries, groceries, or daily use items.

2. Business-to-business (B2B) brands: These brands provide products or services to other businesses rather than consumers. Examples include manufacturers, wholesalers, and professional service firms. Many of the online tools we use to get business done come under this category – such as Keyword Research Tools or Email Autoresponder Tools (typically called Saas products or “Software As A Service”).

3. Niche brands: These are brands that cater to a specific, narrow market segment or target a particular niche within a larger market. For example, eco-friendly or trekking products can be of interest to fans of green concepts or the outdoors camping life. They have small but defined target consumers who know a lot about their areas of passion and are very picky.

4. Luxury brands: These are high-end brands associated with exclusivity, quality, and prestige. They often command a premium price due to their reputation and perceived value. Sometimes buyers care less about the product itself than the brand value. A bag is a bag is a bag – unless it’s a Louis Vuitton!

5. Lifestyle brands: These brands are associated with a particular lifestyle or set of values. They may sell a wide range of products but aim to appeal to customers based on a shared identity or outlook. Classic examples of lifestyle brands are the Harley Davidson motorbikes. They appeal to people who like to be known for their choices and be seen as the “Harley Davidson” type of biker.

6. Multinational brands: Some businesses are global and recognized worldwide – like Ford or Citibank. From country to country, they are seen as very premium brands in their spheres of operation. People flock to get employed by multinationals as their brands get associated with the class and reputation of the globally-recognized companies they work for.

A great example of even more types of branding that you can consider ...

Stephen Houraghan of the Brand Master Academy has a neat video (below) that breaks up branding into eight different types of brands. His approach is that brand marketers have to choose which kind of brand they most want to be as a strategy. He explains the benefits of promoting different aspects of your business as your primary brand. 

I hope you’ll also notice in this video that Stephen explains how some businesses deliberately and strategically choose to adopt multi-level branding or a crossover of different types of branding for good reasons.

3. About main brands, sub-brands, and brand architecture

Life is easy for the marketer when a business has just one predominant brand. The issues become complex when the company launches several other brands when the marketer’s dilemma becomes: “Which brand is the parent? Which is the child brand?”

The problems don’t end there. There are further questions the marketer must ask, like, “Will the children’s brands have more children’s brands in the future? Should I have the same umbrella branding for all my brands – or should each of my brands have a distinctly different identity? Or should I make them look like a set of brands from my business, even if they are in disparate niches?

To solve this problem, marketers usually arrange their brands in one of these three formations: 

The House Of Brands formation separates the master brand from brand extensions and detaches each extension. For example, Proctor & Gamble is the parent brand, but the individual sub-brands like Tide, Pampers, and Old Spice are detached and separate brands without an overshadowing parent brand. P&G is listed somewhere on the packaging in the fine print, but do people read the fine print?

The Branded House formation strongly expresses the parent brand but adds the child brands (usually the different service brands) as suffixes to the parent brand, so there’s no doubt that it’s a set of brands led by a parent brand. FedEx is a classic example with sub-brands like FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, or FedEx Office. (These are also known as brand extensions.)

The Endorsed Brand (or Hybrid) formation usually has the parent brand as the big master brand, while the sub-brands become small properties that are quasi-independent but lean on the master brand for their power. For example, the Marriott Hotels group has many endorsed properties with separate names but always wearing the Marriott logo in bold. We don’t always know each property as well as we do the parent brand.

(There is a detailed explanation of brand architecture in the video below.)

6 tips to plan and develop a clear brand architecture right from start...

1. Clearly define the brand hierarchy: Establish a clear hierarchy among your brands to ensure that each one has a distinct role and purpose. This will make it easier for consumers to understand the relationship between different brands and products within your company.

2. Use consistent branding across all products and services: Consistent branding ensures that all of your products and services are easily recognizable as part of the same company. This can include elements such as logo design, color scheme, and tone of voice.

3. Leverage the power of sub-brands: Sub-brands can be used to differentiate products and services within a more prominent brand. This can help to create a clear structure and make it easier for consumers to understand the different offerings within a company.

4. Use brand extensions strategically: Brand extensions can help leverage a well-established brand’s equity to introduce new products or services. However, it’s important to ensure that the extension is relevant to the core brand and doesn’t dilute its overall message.

5. Communicate the brand architecture clearly to all stakeholders: Ensure that everyone within the organization and external stakeholders understands the brand architecture and can clearly communicate it to others. This can help to ensure consistency in branding across all touchpoints.

6. Continuously monitor and adapt the brand architecture: The market and consumer preferences change over time, so it’s important to continually monitor the effectiveness of the brand architecture and make adjustments as needed. This can help to ensure that the brand remains relevant and resonates with consumers.

A great example of a brand that got itself double the aura ...

Col Gray of the “Rock Your Brand” YouTube Channel has a terrific video where he explains in detail the importance of solid brand architecture – and how the three types of brand hierarchy formations can be best leveraged. He gives excellent examples too.

I hope you notice the benefits he counts for brands with good architecture – time is saved by solid pre-planning, and so is an enormous amount of money in the long run. Brand architecture can become very expensive if it’s not done the first time correctly, and later fixes must be done to realign the architecture. Not only are these messy, but they can erode the parent brand by the time you’ve done the rearrangement.

4. Brand assets – how to manage and leverage their value

What are brand assets? They are anything unique to your company. They must also be well-known and closely associated with your brand. For example, the McDonald’s Arches or the Swoosh of Nike have become huge brand assets.

If you notice everything that relates to your brand and list it in a roster of assets, you’d have items like logos, artwork, mascots, graphics, business cards, letterheads, templates, webinars, sales videos, press releases, color palettes, slogans, taglines, hashtags, typefaces, audio clips, smells, favors, language, tone of voice, endorsers, influencers …

The more brand assets you have, the more you need a systematic way of managing them. So you have to detail the management practices to follow, such as: what to include in your resource library; the technology used to organize assets; the roles of the admin team managing the assets; the file naming conventions; how and when various assets are to be used, inventoried, and updated; what formats files must be stored and when they are to be archived; guidelines on the way assets can be adapted for different devices …

Always be savvy and keep your ears to the ground about emerging technologies that may demand that you create new types of assets and add them to your repertoire. I remember how several businesses scrambled to create a number of new branded hashtags when they all suddenly realized you could trademark your hashtags for social media.

6 tips to leverage all your brand assets to build maximum brand power...

1. Establish clear guidelines: Develop guidelines that clearly define how your brand assets can and should be used. This includes your brand’s color palette, typography, imagery, and messaging. You’d be surprised how many big brands have very thin guidelines. Substantial brand guidelines manuals are imperative for growing brands.

2. Use your brand assets consistently: Consistency is key to building a solid brand. Make sure that your brand assets are used consistently across all your marketing materials, including your website, social media accounts, and print materials. This demands you store your brand assets by category or channel of use and maintain a roster of assets.

3. Make your brand assets easily accessible: Ensure that your brand assets are easily accessible to anyone who needs to use them. This could include providing digital files or templates that can be easily downloaded and edited. But also ensure that there are firm and inviolable rules on what kind of editing or manipulating of assets is allowed.

4. Utilize various platforms and channels: To reach a wider audience, utilize various platforms and channels to share your brand assets. This can include social media, email campaigns, video marketing, and so on. Remember, if you use certain influencers regularly, they are also to be treated as your brand assets within your internal system.

5. Monitor and measure the effectiveness of your brand assets: Keep track of how your brand assets are performing and make adjustments as needed. Use analytics tools to monitor the performance of your social media posts, email campaigns, and website pages that feature your brand assets. Over time weed out the assets that don’t work for you to make room for new experiments.

6. Continuously update your brand assets: Keep your brand assets current and relevant by regularly updating them. This can include refreshing the design, messaging, and overall aesthetic. Reflect on industry trends, customer feedback, and your company’s progress. Most importantly, create new brand assets with emerging technology to stay at the cutting edge.

A great example of what distinctive brand assets are and how you can create them ...

Julian Cole of Strategy Finishing School has a good explainer video about distinctive brand assets. He enumerates eight different types with well-known examples – and shows you the importance of creating distinctive brand assets if you cannot find them in your brand’s history.

Julian also points out that you have to think long-term when creating distinctive brand assets … he talks of ensuring how they can work for you for the next two decades at least!

To find a special gift waiting for you on this page, click the button below to take a peek, before you read on … 

5. How various terms and concepts in branding stack up

You may have noticed that the word “brand is often a prefix for hundreds of associated terms and concepts … for example, brand differentiation, brand purpose, brand ethics, brand code, brand colors, and brand hashtags …

Some of these brand-related terms can be found in textbooks that are at least four decades old, suggesting they are evergreen brand-related ideas, such as brand promise, brand positioning, brand personality, brand identity, etc. Some are new words that have grown out of recent trends and emerging technology, such as mobile brands, brand AI, 3D branding, and brand sustainability …

Since there could be so many concepts connected with branding, it makes sense to categorize the most critical directions most of these concepts fall into. You would find that most of the important brand-related terms can be grouped into these six categories:

How a brand looks and sounds to its target audiences: This category would include concepts related to the visual and messaging elements that make up a brand, such as the logo, color scheme, and tagline.

How a brand competes against similars in the market: This category would include concepts related to how a brand is positioned in the marketplace in relation to its competitors, such as the target audience, unique selling proposition, and overall brand personality.

How a business leverages its brand for maximum gain: This category would include concepts related to the overall plan for developing and managing a brand, including things like market research, target audience identification, and the development of a brand positioning statement.

How a brand communicates across different channels: This category includes concepts related to how a brand is communicated to the public, such as advertising, public relations, and social media marketing.

How a business manages its brand and keeps it up-to-date: This category would include concepts related to how a brand is managed over time, such as monitoring and measuring brand performance, driving the brand team, and adapting to changing market conditions.

How a brand adds economic value to a business: This category would include concepts related to the value that a brand brings to a company, taking into account things like brand earnings, brand assets value, customer loyalty, and the ability to charge premium prices for products or services.

This is one possible way of categorizing branding concepts … different experts may use other types of categorization. We have so many terms in branding because it is a vast field, and each sub-concept requires specialized knowledge, skills, and techniques to be executed correctly.

6 tips to learn about the most important brand-related terms and concepts...

1. Brand Identity: Brand identity refers to the visual and verbal elements that make up a brand, including its name, logo, slogan, colors, and typography. It is how the brand presents itself to the public and how consumers perceive it. A strong brand identity can help to create a recognizable and memorable image in the minds of consumers.

2. Brand Positioning: Brand positioning refers to how a brand is positioned in the market relative to its competitors. The unique value proposition and positioning statement sets a brand apart and defines its target market. Brand positioning is often used to guide the development of advertising and promotion campaigns. 

3. Brand promise or proposition: A brand promise or proposition is a statement that defines the unique value that a brand offers to its customers. It is a guarantee made by the brand to its customers of certain values that it will deliver – and the brand will hope its customers will use these values to judge how the brand is genuinely differentiated from its competitors. 

4. Brand DNA: Brand DNA, also known as brand essence, is a set of core attributes that define a brand. The elements of brand DNA can include things like the brand’s mission, vision, personality, and values. They are intended to be enduring and consistent over time and help create an emotional connection with customers. 

5. Brand Loyalty: Brand loyalty refers to the tendency of consumers to continue to purchase products or services from a particular brand, even in the face of competition. Consistent quality, good customer service, and effective marketing campaigns can strengthen brand loyalty. A loyal customer base can help generate repeat sales and increase revenue over time. 

6. Brand Equity: Brand equity refers to the value of a brand as perceived by consumers. It is the set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand that make up its economic value. Brand equity can include consumer perceptions of quality and the ability to charge a premium price. Strong brand equity can help increase market share and profits, and create a barrier to entry for competitors.

A great example of a word cloud that contains over 80 brand-related terms ...

Just for a lark, I put down about 80 terms and concepts associated with the word “brand” and made a word cloud of it …  and just after I had finished, I found still more I could have added … like Brand Conscience, Brand Activism, and Brand Resets. It seems someone is having a lot of fun finding new angles to add to branding.

(As a side note, I had a colleague who would go to marketing conferences and assiduously note down all the brand terms thrown at him by the speakers – so that he could stuff them all into his next Powerpoint presentation to stun potential clients!)

Word Cloud Of Brand Terms

6. Building a brand – the process, the challenges, the wins

There is nothing as exciting to a new entrepreneur than to see the first contours of the business’s primary brand. It’s like the moment when all plans are coming to fruition. But with the expectations of a great future for the brand – and many wins – also come the challenges.

Apart from new entrepreneurs shaping their first shiny new brands, there is also the class of old entrepreneurs with brands that need “rebranding” to stay with the times. This is no less of an interesting exercise. Sometimes, the legacy of the old brand can be incorporated beautifully into the new brand to give it more depth. But sometimes, all legacy needs to be wiped off, and the rebranding needs to start from scratch.

Everybody would love to build a brand that lasts for years and grows even more memorable and distinctive as it ages. But one of the main difficulties to cross in that exquisite dream of owning an ageless brand is the fact that technology and consumers’ buying trends are changing so rapidly. Marketers chase the long-term dream but end up making short-term decisions that burn their brands to dust in quick time.

So how do you build a brand that can last and also be with the current market conditions at any time? The secret is to have solid fundamentals and core values for the brand (like its promise, value proposition, ethics, and authenticity) … but to be flexible in adapting the brand’s messaging to the behaviors of its evolving target audiences and the devices and technology they adopt. As they say, be firm on principles but flexible on methods.

6 tips to building a well-strategized brand step by step ...

1. Clearly define your brand’s identity and mission: It’s no secret that the clearer you are about your brand – its core values, identity, what it wants to achieve, and what its short-and-long-term goals are, the easier it will be to aim your brand in the right direction. This also includes understanding your target audience and what sets your brand apart from competitors.

2. Create a consistent visual identity: This includes designing a logo, color scheme, and other visual elements that will be used across all branding materials. This is among the most exciting phases of branding when you bring your mental visions of your brand to physical fruition. Keep experimenting till you get the “right identity” you’ll always love.

3. Develop a brand voice: This includes determining the tone and language used in all communications, from social media posts to customer service interactions. Collect all content from other brands that your respect or admire. See what you think their brand voice is. What is their style and language of communication? Which brand or brands do you want to set as your role model?

4. Build a strong online presence: This includes creating a website and social media profiles, and regularly updating them with engaging content. When focusing on your website planning, put yourself into your target customer’s shoes to see how the website may look to them. Let your website be totally customer-centric, and not just about your online office being the way you like.

5. Foster customer loyalty: As your brand evolves from the start to its adolescent stages, don’t just aim for traffic. Aim for retaining customer loyalty. Initially, you may not sell much, but the brand readership of your site and blog must be grown assiduously. Consistently provide high-quality content, excellent customer service, and regular email marketing to subscribers.

6. Continuously measure and adjust your branding efforts: Brand building is a very customized idea. Your way of building your brand will have its own growth pattern unlike that of others. Track metrics such as website traffic and social media engagement, and use this data to make informed decisions about tweaking your branding strategies. You learn through small but strategic experimentations.

A great example of a brand's identity and personality being developed from scratch ...

Of all the questions I usually get about building a brand, about 85% of the time, people mean the brand logo design and personality. As I have said before in this article, the brand identity is not the sum and substance of the brand – it’s just one part of a more significant process. Nevertheless, people are very excited about their brand design, so I included this excellent video to show you how a great brand identity can be built. It’s from Shopify.

I like that this video builds an example brand even as it explains the principles.

7. Growing a brand – the long game with twists and turns

Although we all call it “brand growth,” what we really mean is growing our brand by increasing its customer base. A brand is only as big as its customer base is. If we want more growth, we have to find and fold in more customers continuously.

Brand growth can be achieved in four ways:

One, see if there are opportunities to retain your customers and not lose them to competition through lousy service, or neglect. This is the least expensive type of brand growth. You’ll need to spend more on customer nurturing.

Two, see if current customers can be made to purchase more … for which you may have to grow your product range or accessories, or tie in new services with products. You’ll need to spend more on production.

Three, see if you can increase the customer base you have with new customers from adjacent market niches, new geographies, or new age groups. You’ll need to spend more on marketing.

Four, diversify from your initial niche into new niche areas of complementary potential. Explore new types of products evolving out of new technology. You’ll need to spend more on experimentation.

6 tips to gradually increase the visibility, impact, and size of your brand ...

1. Expand your product/service offerings: Diversify your products or services. Offer a wider range of products or services to appeal to a broader customer base and increase revenue. If you are in a defined niche, look for adjacent shoulder niches you can creep into to offer services or products related to the ones that are your primary brands.

2. Expand your distribution channels: Reach more customers by expanding the channels through which your products or services are available, such as online marketplaces or online stores. Looking for partnerships with other collaboration partners will open up new opportunities to grow your own brand beyond the boundaries you normally have.

3. Focus on customer retention: Did you know that getting a new customer is usually 6 times costlier than retaining an old one? As you grow your brand, you should not have to keep looking for new customers, and instead focus on not letting the customers or fans you have from leaking out of your system. Implement strategies to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, such as rewards programs or personalized communication.

4. Embrace new technologies: Fortunately for all of us, marketers, technology is changing so fast that new avenues for brand growth are emerging at a furious pace at the cutting edge. Keep abreast of new technologies and trends in your industry and leverage them to improve your operations and reach new customers. But experiment with caution. Not every new tech fad may be worth it.

5. Enter new markets: Identify new markets or geographies where your brand can be successful and expand your reach through targeted marketing and advertising efforts. These days, through expanding your online presence and delivering your content in multiple languages, you can reach out to new geographies ever so easily. 

6. Two things to build on consistently to grow your brand fast is content and community: The more content you create as blog posts and social posts, the more gateways you create for your customers to enter your brand’s sphere of influence. You also need to beef up your online mechanism to build your brand community – by offering webinars, forums, workshops, Q&A sessions, and other events. 

A great example of brand storytelling by Barbie as a clever growth tactic ...

Often, it happens that a brand sees potential customers it can target to grow its customer base, but it gets limited by its approach to growth, which is conventional. Mattel, the manufacturer of the Barbie doll, thought it would be a great idea to grow their brand by including mothers of girl children into their fold. If more mothers could be convinced to allow their young daughters to grow by playing with Barbie dolls, think how much larger the brand could become. To this formula, they added another growth fertilizer: brand storytelling.

See the video below on how beautifully Mattel told mothers to encourage their daughters to let their imaginations grow with Barbie!

8. Brand messaging for building trust, community, sales 

As brand communication experts say, “Communicating about your business is one thing, but communicating as your business is another.” This is what brand messaging is all about. If your brand were a person, how would that person speak to people it wanted to attract as buyers?

Before you decide on how your brand should develop its messaging, you must first determine what you want the messaging to do for your brand – should it increase brand trust, help build a brand community, or grow sales? Knowing the purpose of messaging is the place to start.

After goals are set, brand messaging is about how your brand speaks. (In fact, it’s often called “brand speak.”) The purpose of coordinating your brand messaging is to ensure that you’re saying the right things at the right time and that, in doing so, you’re encouraging audiences to know better about your business. Effective brand messaging influences people to have a good opinion of your brand – a precursor to everything your brand wants to achieve.

Your brand’s personality greatly affects how it messages or communicates. For example, if your brand personality is that of an expert, its messaging should be sophisticated and serious. If your brand’s personality is informal, its messaging could include more fun, honesty, or friendliness. Most often, brands plan on one type of personality, but the way they message clashes with that personality. Beware of this because customers get distinctly uncomfortable with a “schizophrenic brand personality.” Consistency of tone, voice, and style of communication is crucial.

6 tips to improve your brand messaging and increase its influence...

1. Understand your audience: If you’re not clear about who you want to impact with your brand messaging, your communicating pattern could go haywire. Conduct market research to understand your target audience’s needs, wants, and pain points. This will help you create messaging that resonates with them and addresses their specific concerns.

2. Be clear and concise: Keep your messaging simple and to the point. Some brands overuse industry jargon to sound “knowledgeable.” Expertise actually makes itself felt when you can explain complex ideas in simple language. Avoid using technical terminology or complicated spiel that your audience may not understand.

3. Use storytelling: People are more likely to remember and engage with a story than a list of facts. Use storytelling in your messaging to make it more relatable and memorable. You can tell stories about how people’s lives are impacted because of what your brand does for them. Share your brand’s dreams for the future. Reminisce with older customers over shared histories.

4. Use emotional appeals: There is a separate science called “emotional branding.” People make decisions based on emotions, so tap into those emotions in your messaging. Use words and imagery that evoke happiness, security, or excitement. Although most people like to justify their purchase decisions with post-purchase logic, most buys are emotionally-driven.

5. Use testimonials and social proof: People trust the opinions of others, so use testimonials and social proof in your messaging to build trust and credibility. In fact, there is a lot of research that people believe other people more than they trust the promises of brands. So get as many brand ambassadors and brand affiliates into action on behalf of your brand.

6. Test and refine your messaging: Always test your messaging with a small group of people to see how it resonates. Use the feedback to refine and improve your messaging. Repeat the process until you find a message that resonates with your audience. You can’t do this with every blog, but you can start with small messaging elements like your tagline, social hashtags, and email signature messages.

A great example of how one brand used storytelling with sensational impact ...

We’ve all heard of the Dove Soap “You are more beautiful thank you think!” campaign, where women – ordinary women – are made to see that whatever they feel they look like, they are the most beautiful women in the world. But it’s the way a brand sends down this messaging that grabs its audience’s emotions, beliefs, trust, sense of community … and sales!

This film from Dove has every ingredient, including outstanding storytelling, that encapsulates phenomenal messaging. Watch over and over … and enjoy!

Pro tips to take away in summary ...

1. Every definition of branding is true in its own way, but since branding is so difficult to define, it all sounds more complex than it should be. The simplest definition may be to see a brand from the customer’s eyes and say, “Branding is how customers believe and trust a product can transform their lives better than any other brand.”

2. If you want to become a pro at branding, there are at least 8 concepts or ideas – sub-topics, if you will – that can help you get a grip on the whole subject. These broadly cover all the areas you should know.

3. Under every one of these 8 sub-topics of branding, I have included several tips on how you could implement them after you’ve understood them. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my own brand and my clients’ brands to make them hit high places quickly.

Branding is one of the most critical aspects of marketing, and it takes a lot to get it right. Always consider branding to be a long-term exercise. Your brand messaging can be flexible to meet the market’s demands as it evolves, but your brand’s core should never change in a hurry. It must age and mellow like fine wine.

BONUS: Get help to build and expand your branding power

Branding can be the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal if done correctly. There are many nuances to take care of, and the whole exercise is to create a brand that is totally coherent and relevant to the audience it is hoping to win trust from. But rather than slog at it yourself and spend time and money on trial-and-error, make it simple … let me help you.
 
Let’s have a free, no-obligations Zoom chat. We can locate the potential to power up your branding. Let me know your goals and budgets, and I will offer you some readily implementable suggestions. 
 
If we’re a good fit for each other, you could consider outsourcing your branding to me. I am confident I can take your business to an enviable position. 
 
Click the button below to book a free 30-45 minute online ZOOM meeting, and we’ll take it from there!
Shobha Ponnappa

"Once you create a brand, it becomes a living entity with a personality of its own. The people that it impacts then imbue it with qualities they see it as having. More and more, it becomes the thing owned by its customers rather than its creator. That's why customers get so upset, sometimes, when their favorite brands change their personalities or their course. Can your brands be co-owned by your customers? Great brands always are."

More related guides on the nuances of branding ...

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