Rise above cyclical trends and avoid hopping on bandwagons - Remember the fundamentals of brand strategy instead.
The first two months of the year are done and dusted. Time to roll up your sleeves and get on with another 10 months of chasing the weekly releases of ‘must-have’ marketing fads promising to shatter disruptive technologies and methodologies (as announced as being disruptive the previous weeks).
With so many fads from start-up Davids as well as established marketing Goliaths that promise to help show clients or bosses results, it’s going to be challenging... Just keeping up to date will force you to place marketing tactics before longer-term strategy considerations.
However, before you totally write-off strategic planning, here are five branding strategic thinking tips that can actually help you assess whether the latest ‘big thing’ enhances, or detracts from your core brand messaging, philosophy and delivery.
1- Brand purpose
Beyond obvious platitudes such as, “the purpose of my brand is to be profitable”, think of up to three target audiences, for each write three adjectives that describe how your brands achieves each target’s needs
What drives your brand? To be an agent for good or change? To be respected? To become the voice of controversy that ignites food for thought, or perhaps the voice of reason in a ‘Fake News’ world?
Reflecting needs, marketing has always held a mirror to society. Never more so than in 2017 as organisations, institutions and people alike become Jacobs wrestling with an identity-crisis inducing angel tossing them into a sea of who, why and where there are … as well as who they have yet to become.
Strategically planned brands are anchors that keep enterprises grounded. Conceived with a specific purpose in mind, such brands focus on tools that clarify a position and meaning; helping potential customers feel aligned and remain loyal.
Providing the parts of your sum purpose add up, your brand will resonate, becoming something worth believing in.
2- Brand consistency
Just as people strive for purpose, so they search for reassuring patterns of behaviour reflecting their own convictions Given the current age and anger and uncertainty, failure to present an assured tone of voice can be discombobulating. However, don’t mistake being predictable with being unsurprising. Having built a platform of identifiable brand meaning your brand can then go on to continually delight, surprise and captivate.
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Brand campaigns need to encourage involvement that enriches a person’s sense of self. Bearing this in mind, ask yourself what a new plug-in or algorithm is actually saying to customers, stakeholders and broader public about what your brand represents?
3- Brand Congruency
Brands need to send out a “here is something I can relate towards message”. One of the core aspects that make people ‘human’ is a basic “need to belong.” A mental-model known as ‘Belongingness Hypothesis’ states that people seek to feel connected through authentically caring relationships. Whilst the notion of a ‘caring relationship’ may sound a bit wishy-washy for the business-to-business world, in truth, trusted relationships are crucial in B2B sectors.
4- Brand Inspiration
Through solving problems, brands galvanise and communicate hope. Affecting such aspirations requires you to educate, and explain not only the shell of a brand (its logo, colours and so on) but the transparent implicit essence of your brand: it’s holistic totality.
5- Brand Substance
In the 17th year of the third millennium a lot of brand content has become pitifully unoriginal. Take LinkedIn or Twitter. Both are flooded with digital marketing WhitePapers and free downloads that, too often turn out to be an amalgamation of each other’s soundbites. In an era partly defined by the individuality of the Selfie, this is sadly ironic.
Brand substance is measured by what is done rather than just said. Brand ‘doing’ is the twin-bother of brand ‘feeling’. When deciding on adopting a trend, ask yourself how valued it will be to customers? For example, in terms of content-driven resources, will the content be allied to newsworthy discussion points? Is it original enough to be cited by others? Will it empower readers, viewers, bloggers, customers… peers or just become another link in an endless chain mechanically driven rather person-aimed marketing?
Follow the above, and your brand begins to ‘feel’ real, meaningful and pertinent: resonating with people on the deepest of levels. Once it satisfies these crucial goals, rather than becoming conditional on the latest fads, it can be enhance by them.
Thanks to Jonathan Gabay for sharing his advice and opinions in this post, along with his controversial book, Brand Psychology which takes a very human approach to the implications of Big Data. Jonathan is a creative strategist, educator, award winning copywriter, keynote speaker and writer. In his capacity as brand journalist, he provides cutting edge insights for global news outlets including: BBC, ITN, Bloomberg, ABC (USA), Channel Four, Channel Five, Sky News and CNN.
His career spans three decades, during which time he has held several major advertising and marketing roles and led some of the most successful creative courses ever for the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A highly popular Keynote speaker, he has worked with some of the most respected names in the world of creative advertising, marketing, PR, the media and education.
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