The term “brand” is thrown around pretty loosely these days, to the point where many people would be hard-pressed to give an accurate definition of what it means.
A brand is the image of a company or product, meaning that it isn’t the company or product itself, but the image it conveys. In other words, a brand’s identity is what a customer or potential customer thinks of or feels when they hear their name or see their brand marks. Building a brand takes a considerable amount of time and effort and growing an established brand does as well. This is why companies that are masters of branding like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple still spend millions upon millions of dollars on brand awareness campaigns each year. Let’s look at some strategies to help grow brands in the 21 st century.
Focus on Your Core and Target Audiences
When asked who they’re trying to reach with their latest advertising campaign, some companies will say, “Everyone!” Any creative agency will tell you that this is a massive mistake. Whether your goal is to create brand awareness or grow your company, you can’t be all things to all people. Look at Nike, for example. They could spend millions of dollars trying to target senior citizens, but they don’t. They know that their core audience are younger athletes, and if they simply build their market share of that demographic, they will succeed and show growth.
It’s important to understand the difference and relationship between a core audience and target audience. A core audience is the demographic group of customers who are loyal and already buy your product or service. While it may overlap, a target audience is the demographic group that you want to capture as customers, in addition to your core.
Great brands are built on great brand marks. These can include logos, branding statements or slogans, and even color schemes. A mistake that many businesses make in the digital age is overthinking their cross-platform campaigns. While it’s true that you should customize content to the platform on which you’re posting, that has much more to do with sizes and technical specs than messaging or branding. Going back to our examples of companies that are brand masters: have you ever seen a Nike ad without their signature “Swish?” Or a Coca-Cola ad without their script-based logo? If you’ve built identifiable brand marks, don’t think that you need new ones for every new platform. Stay consistent!
Use Digital Platforms to Build Awareness
Now that we’ve addressed what your cross-platform ads should include, let’s talk a little about your buying strategy. One of the key components that separates a good marketer or ad buyer from a great one is building a thoughtful and effective media mix. That used to mean crafting a strategy that included broadcast television, radio, print, and out-of-home advertising. Now, it should include (or consider) all the previously mentioned mediums, as well as digital banners and retargeting , social media buys, and OTT ad placement.
The underlying rationale behind this mix, however, goes back to understanding your core and target audiences. Are they using Snapchat? If not, skip it in favor of Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter. Are they using desktops or just smartphones? That impacts how you schedule ad delivery on Facebook. It boils down to this: while you want to have as broad a presence as possible to build brand awareness, you need to focus on the platforms that speak to your customers rather than spreading yourself too thin.
Provide Content Marketing
Finally, remember that consumers are universally predisposed to hate advertising. While it’s a waste of time to trick them into thinking that paid ads are not paid ads, you can provide a benefit beyond asking them to buy. Place videos that serve as step by step guides to use a product or complete a project, or a blog that demonstrates how your product can help in unexpected ways.
Growing a brand does take time and effort, but most of all, it takes an intelligent, considerate strategy . Use the tips we’ve discussed to help build yours!