When it comes to marketing, branding is the unifying factor that ties together SEO content, PPC, social media and all other marketing touch points.
Does your brand come off as sleek and professional? Or, cute and relatable? Are you going for a rugged, weathered reputation or a proper, high-class feel?
Your brand should be your business’s North Star, guiding all content and communication to create a unified feel.
Why Is Branding Important?
Branding is the element that helps you gain an edge over your competitors. Your brand allows you to legitimately say the statements that would influence your customers to choose you (and stay with you) instead of other businesses in your industry. These statements resonate through your entire marketing process, ensuring your customers know what they’re buying and are on board with what you offer.
Sample branding statements:
- “Unlike our competitors, we offer a product that is easy to use without all the hassle.”
- “While our competitors offer standardized services, our customized process ensures that you get a unique experience no-one else can offer”
- “When you work with us, you can expect a relaxed, comfortable process that puts you at ease in this often stressful industry”
- “People approach this industry too casually – we offer the utmost professionalism and the highest quality you can expect, bar none.”
When we perform competitive research for our clients, we look at their industry’s “top performers” and how they’ve built their business to “win.” We then take this feedback and compare it our clients’ closest competitors – what are they doing? Then, we take all of our insights and analyze our clients’ brand – what can we do to position ourselves to grow?
Oftentimes when performing SEO research, we’ll come across giants in the industry that command thousands of monthly searches off their brand name alone. Sometimes, traffic for their brand name can surpass the total traffic generated by the top keyword in their industry! For instance, Starbucks getting more searches that coffee shop.
It makes sense that branding is an important element in marketing – but how do you judge the strength of such a qualitative attribute? Here are a couple of steps:
Perform A Google Search
Search for your brand online – are you on the first page of results? If not, why? Is your brand being diluted with other similar keywords or businesses?
If someone made a search for your brand including your industry as a keyword, where do you show up? Are the only mentions of your business on your own website, or do you show up in forums, community events and trade shows?
Ask Your Clients About Your Competitors
Your clients are a gold mine of insights – after all, they’re the end user whose opinions are the most important! Don’t be afraid to ask your clients (for both service or product-based industries) how your brand is performing, compared to those of your competitors.
Don’t feel as if this is “opening Pandora’s box”. If your brand has a problem, it’s better that you hear it first from your customers in an attempt to fix it, than to have your customers leave you for unknown reasons.
Perform an NPS Survey
An “NPS Survey” is performed with your customers to see how loyal they really are.
If you’ve got a low NPS score – you’ve got a problem, because this survey is indicative of loyalty. If your loyal score is low, you’ll be losing followers over time – meaning that you’re becoming irrelevant. Catch potential problems before they arise!
Create A ‘Focus Group’ to Gather Brand Associations
We don’t actually mean hiring a “focus group” for this task – although you need a good mix of business associates, consumers and other individuals not directly related to your business.
Ask your contacts – what are the top words that come up when you mention your brand name? Have them reply with enough words until they start hesitating. Then, have them continue with 3-5 more words.
What this does is effectively reveal your brand’s “primary” associations and “secondary” associations.
A brand’s primary associations are immediately revealed in the first 2-3 thoughts when an individual participates in this kind of experiment. For example, a brand association test for “Coca Cola” might lead to answers such as “red, cold, Santa Claus, sweet, Pepsi…” and after a few moments of hesitation, words such as “sugar, diet, unhealthy, environment”
The primary associations that immediately come to mind need to match your brand’s ideal values.
The secondary associations reveal underlying thoughts that come to mind when making a decision – perhaps, say, at a grocery store.
Conduct this kind of test on 10-30 individuals to see how your brand is positioned. Are your results in line with your branding objective?
How Do You Leverage Your Branding?
There are generally two ways to shift the consumer lever through branding campaigns.
Either you increase the relevance of your brand strengths, or your increase the perception of your business’s strength with a particular attribute.
If you’re looking to improve your branding, take at look at our resources on optimizing your CPG/retail branding. While brands vary between industries, the approach in recognizing the strength of your brand remains consistent whether you’re a service, B2B or CPG/retail brand.
If you’re looking for a customized branding approach that will result in dividends over time – contact our marketing agency in downtown Vancouver.