Even though people have been using design, signage, and copy to distinguish their products and property probably for as long as products and property exist, modern branding has its roots in the early 20th century. Think about how much has changed in more than a hundred years that have passed since then.
Early branding was about product packaging, slogans, and radio jingles. Today, branding works on a completely different level. Social media provided channels for brands to quickly and efficiently communicate with their customers. Customers are using the same channels to communicate back. Everything is immediate, everything happens in real time, and everyone is there — only 3% of people with social media accounts do not follow any brands.
So if you’re a business owner who’s looking to brand their business according to the rules of the digital world, here are a couple of tips that will get you started.
Don’t Get too Hung up on Building Relationships
If you’re at a meeting with a branding agency you plan to hire to help you build your brands, and you’re explaining at great length how you need to build relationships with your customers, don’t be surprised if the agency shoots your relationship ideas down. Why? Because the majority of people don’t want to have relationships with brands.
It’s true. Only 23% of people would say they have a relationship with a brand. The remaining 77% couldn’t be bothered. While you will probably have some of both in your follower or customer base, building your branding strategy to target only a quarter (at best) of your customers isn’t the best course of action. Not unless you plan to do something that will get you closer to the remaining three-quarters at the same time.
Think About Values and Purpose
One way to brand your business so that it speaks to the people who are not into customer-brand relationships is to switch focus to your brand values. And if you’re not sure where to look for your brand values, take a page from the “how to grow your business” book and return to the basics — your business’ purpose.
Think about what motivated you to start your business. It couldn’t have only been about money, there must have been some problems you wished to solve, some innovation you wanted to make, or a vision you wanted to bring to life. Your business can be much more than just a money-making endeavor, it can stand for something, and that’s where values come from. It’s also where stories come from, and you can utilize them to great effect in your branding efforts. And just so you know, your value-centric branding will attract customers who share the same values. So your values and the values of your ideal customer will align.
Stay Consistent Across all Channels
Consistency is the golden rule of branding, and it also applies to the digital world. It’s not just that all of your business’ social media pages and profiles need to look alike, and they do to a certain degree. Consistency goes deeper than the visuals, it goes to the very core of branding.
You messaging and the brand identity it projects has to be the same regardless of the channel you use to place it. Your customers need to be able to switch between your messaging on different channels as seamlessly as possible. Yes, there are some boundaries that every channel puts on the way your brand expresses itself, and you can use different channels to serve different types of content. However, you can’t switch brand identity along with channels. The values need to stay the same and the tone and character of messages need to stay the same, just like your logo always stays the same.
When Branding, Do Just Branding
An online branding campaign is not the same as an online sales campaign, and the success of the two is measured by different metrics. With branding, you’re aiming for brand recognition, recall, and reach. With sales, you’re aiming for conversion rates, and the return on advertising spend. And the two don’t mix together too well.
If you’re trying to pass serious branding in your sales campaign, you won’t do either right. It’s the same the other way around. Your branding campaign is focused on getting people to know your brand, to understand what your brand is about, and to form an opinion of your brand. If these are the goals of your campaign, make sure that they are the only goals of your campaign.