Branding Strategy: Keys to Brand Success
Branding Strategy: Keys to Brand Success
This essay will discuss why branding is important, and how a brand becomes well established. It will explore some of the key factors in maintaining the success once a brand has become well known, and will also take a look into the possible future of branding in years to come.
Why Branding is Important
Branding is important because it helps a company become well established and communicates a message to consumers about what can be expected from a company. Branding also allows a company to stand out against other competitors due to promoting recognition which gives consumers an impression of the company. For example if they become well known for being a reliable company with good customer service then the repeat purchase rate is likely to increase.
Establishing a Brand
The practice of branding originated in 2000BC with the purpose of making livestock identifiable to farmers, this consisted of branding cattle with an iron that had the same shapes or lettering on it for each cow or bull.
Branding was later used amongst Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese to mark their pottery. It became a useful way to indicate ownership of a piece of work. This also helped establish a system of verifying if a piece was of good quality, as the craftsman’s work could be easily confirmed.
The purpose of branding has changed several times throughout history, but nowadays it stands for creating an identity for something, particularly companies, through the use of names, colours, sounds, graphic design and even experiences.
If a company wants to stand out from its competitors it is vital that they have the branding to back it up, ‘Without a strong identity, image is nothing’ (Perry, A. and Wisnom, D., 2003, pg 5). Establishing a brand mostly consists of ensuring what the brand is about and being confident with the message being put out to consumers, and not overcomplicating information, ‘A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus’ (Ries, A. and Ries, L., 2012, pg 8).
Developing and Maintaining Brand Success
Once a brand is well established and has successfully gained enough respect from their customers they are then tasked with the challenge of maintaining that brand success. They also have to consider new and innovative ways in which they can entice their current and new customers to keep buying from them.
A common technique for brands to connect with their audience and to stay relevant is to create campaigns that get people involved. For example Coca-Cola launched the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign in 2011, which involved replacing the usual Coca-Cola logo on bottles with 1000 most popular American names. This was highly effective for increasing sales, because it used the most personal thing that people possess – their names.
Another area beneficial for companies nowadays is online, with the use of social media, as this allows companies to reach a broader audience of people from all over the world, with many new platforms available at any time, day and night. Some examples of online adverts for brands include visual adverts particularly across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and especially videos on the biggest video platform on the internet – YouTube. This form of advertising is very effective as often times an advert will be displayed in a way where it becomes blatant for the viewer, such as adverts that cannot be skipped before a video plays.
Getting an audience involved online usually means connecting through the use of hashtags, which often ties into a campaign started by a brand, these hashtags may be used to simply have a consumer post a photo of a brand’s product and use the stated hashtag to appear in search results when others look up the hashtag. Other times the hashtag may require more challenging elements to it, where consumers may need to physically go somewhere or take a photo to demonstrate that they’ve completed a task related to the hashtag, these can be effective for connecting with a brand’s audience along with building up an impression of the brand as they can range from simple to challenging tasks that make the audience feel included and like they have achieved something.
Brands will often attempt to latch onto events in order to become well known and make more sales. For example both Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have broadened their marketing strategies to include various football related activities. This also proves to be effective as they’re targeting areas where plenty of people will view their adverts in an environment in which they’re likely to become hungry and thirsty. This leads to more sales for these companies as that’s what their customers have been viewing for most of the day, whether it be subconscious or not.
Storytelling in adverts is another common practice in order to sell a brand. This often involves creating a story that in some way features the product as the main plot or ‘character’ of the ad. These adverts tend to aim at evoking emotional responses out of their audience, because if the viewer can relate a positive feeling to a product then they’re more likely to make that purchase again, this play on people’s emotions is also known as ‘joy-marketing’. This type of advertising tends to be effective, as humans are social creatures; if a person can relate to a situation then they will be more inclined to feel personally connected to what they’re seeing.
A prime example of joy-marketing is the 2016 Christmas advert for John Lewis. In contrast to their usual rather sad advertisements, they chose to instead focus on evoking the feeling of joy and wonderment surrounded around the holidays by taking the viewer on a journey of a dog’s imagination and a little girl receiving a gift she has desperately been waiting for. This advert was particularly successful in changing the perception of their brand, as they changed their tactic from an emotionally upsetting Christmas advert to one that evoked more uplifting and positive emotions in their viewers. The end slogan ‘Gifts everyone will love’ and a hashtag, ‘#BusterTheBoxer’ aided the brand in getting more viewers connected online too, by increasing awareness of the brand with a hashtag for people to follow and get involved in.
The Future of Branding
Today, technology is developing ever faster and as technology grows we can only assume that branding will also continue to grow and learn to adapt to the new technological advancements.
Brands have previously used physical techniques to advertise, such as within print or embedded in videos, but as times have changed so have the techniques. The advertising of brands can now be seen across many social media platforms, with the use of brand accounts, hashtags and online campaigns. ‘Social media – blogs, Twitter and the rest of it – have transformed the way the world works and lives’ (Olins, W., 2014, pg 136).
However, as the human race also grows we may become more aware of the way we live and become more conscious about sustainability, global warming and the environment. These are all factors that may influence the way a brand is viewed by a consumer, based on how the products may be made and what is used in them. ‘Does the rise of digital technology mean that corporations will increasingly be on the defensive because customers will not only answer back but will ask a few questions and make a few demands on their own initiative?’ (Olins, W., 2014, pg 7).
There is also an indication that brands may begin to target their audience from a more organic stance, ‘Organic is an interesting word. Somewhere, somehow or other, it has an emotional association with authenticity’ (Olins, W., 2014, pg 19). Organic narratives are currently working for smaller brands, whether that’s due to a placebo effect or not, but knowing that a product is organic tends to imply a sense of authenticity and reliability leading consumers to feel more informed about what’s in a product or where it came from. If the smaller brands using this technique continue to grow it would not be surprising to see the bigger brands partake in promoting their brands in a similar fashion.
Throughout this essay the role and purpose of branding has been explored, and in conclusion it has been recognised that branding is very important in order for a company to become well established so as to reach more people, grow, and ultimately, increase sales.
Building and establishing a good relationship with consumers through the use of branding is a key element to gaining and maintaining the success for companies, as the more positive a customer feels about a product the more positive they will feel about a brand altogether.
It has also become clear that technology has had a major impact on the way companies have previously developed their branding styles and will likely continue to do so with new technological advancements growing increasingly sooner over the coming years.