It’s indisputable how essential a positive brand perception can be to your bottom line. Branding is inherently crucial to all marketing and publicity initiatives, whether you’re running for public office or selling cannabis. Regardless of everything you do to generate leads and make sales, your brand still plays a large part in a customer’s ultimate decision to either pay or walk away.
Despite many changes in the marketing landscape over the past decade, with the digital revolution and an emerging emphasis on customer experience, branding has held its ground and maintained its powerful effect when engaging and interacting with consumers. While the ways in which we reach customers will continue to change, the imperatives behind brands will never change: they should always strive to be memorable, recognisable, or at the very least, not associated with something dreadful.
Brand isn’t just important for the big guys either – even small and medium-sized businesses deserve the option to benefit from the power of brand.
What if you’re only small?
The branding game is often associated with giant household names, with their deep pockets, mass coverage and casual celebrity endorsements, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by smaller players.
Though challenges inherently exist for smaller brands, a fair share of voice is still attainable, especially now that digital channels can offer more cost-effective and measurable solutions for reaching audiences. But remember, you mustn’t let the core elements of your brand get lost amid all the scale and detail of “digital”. Your positioning and point of difference should be at the forefront of any messaging you plan to run.
It’s argued that brand recognition is a prerequisite for success and profitability, specifically in Search Marketing, because consumers tend to favour familiarity. While this is true to an extent, many of today’s iconic brands started out small and modest themselves. So all is not lost.
By appealing to the niche interests of your audience, you’ll be able to cut through the clutter and get seen and heard, just like the big guys. Being small doesn’t make you insignificant – it makes you more relevant to that unique target market whose interests the big guys don’t “get”.
Interest vs. trust
Research has shown that familiarity matters when it starts with fondness, but novelty wins when it can trigger interests. Though forging a connection through interest alone may not seem enough, this strategy has its merits, given that interest makes the top of the list of all emotions one feels when connecting with a brand, even outranking trust, which comes second.
Sending out the right message is a powerful way to establish an emotional bond with your audience. People like being understood, and feeling understood – especially if it appeals to something they’re seeking or identify with. Nothing is as effective as being able to say, “Look at this thing we’ve created, it’s exactly what you want”.
Building brand affinity through intimacy and relevancy
Once you have a defined brand identity, purpose and personality, ramp up your digital campaigns to promote the novelty that is you. Then, showcase your best attributes that are worth staying for.
The goal is to build a positive connection between your brand and whatever needs your customer has. Fulfillment, or delivering on what you promise, is a good place to start. Giving consumers a good reason why they should link their lives to your brand is another. Nurturing that connection will help build the right relationship where both parties enjoy each other’s company.
Relevancy is also key. It’s easy to be omnipresent, but without a common interest, consumers won’t feel “the spark”. Iconic brands tend to cave in to the temptation of newness and stray from the values they once shared with their followers, losing their relevance and becoming faceless entities. This is where a more manageable identity such as yours could make for longer-lasting relationships; it’s easier to keep a small brand on track than a large one.
A final word
Consumers judge a brand by a lot of factors, but especially by the way it makes them feel. Besides fulfilling needs and delivering the value it promises, a great brand should also harness the emotional connections it can create. A positive emotional connection is hard to replicate –more so for large multinationals – and helps create a brand that is hard to replace.
Of the many ways you can form a connection with your customers, a good place to start is to show them that you care, make a positive difference in the world, relate to their problems, be authentic, or use humour in your favour.
Next time you’re worrying about reaching an audience and resonating with it, think of your business not as a needle in a haystack, but as a diamond in the rough. Because that’s how some of them think of you.