Brand marketing is much more than just marketing your product or service, it’s about promoting your brand. Many people might ask “But isn’t your product or service the same as your brand?”. The answer is not a simple yes or no. Your brand is much more than what you sell. Your brand is your identity that encompasses how your customer perceives you. With the foundation of a good brand and good brand strategy, brand marketing ends up being much more effective.
Your brand is what differentiates you from your competitors. Take a walk through the drugstore and look at all the different allergy medications. There are countless options, all of which include essentially the same ingredients. What makes a consumer buy one allergy medication over another (maybe even a more expensive option)– many times the answer is branding. Branding encapsulates how the consumer perceives your brand, whether they trust you or not, whether they are loyal and willing to spend .70 cents more for the same product. This is why branding is so important. It has an unquantifiable value that can make or break a company.
That being said brand strategy is perhaps the most important investment you can make in your company. Branding is more than just graphic design it’s about shaping the way your customers see you. The most difficult thing, and the most powerful thing, is to communicate precisely what you do and why it matters. At the root of it, brand strategy is your most important tool. Only after you clearly define your brand can you move on to successfully marketing it.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, you see some of the most successful brands in the world, from Apple to Google to Levis. What do they all have in common? Phenomenal branding. It’s no wonder why every marketing class in college spends time talking about Apple. It’s so much more than computers, iPods, iPads, Airpods, and iPhones. In fact in the early ’90s, before their climb to the top, Apple was in danger of going out of business. What turned things around? Branding. Apple has managed to make a company based on innovation, design, and humanity– not necessarily just computers. Through this subconscious connection with these positive attributes, Apple has been able to get away with a lot. Customers are willing to overlook the fact that many devices have ‘planned obsolescence’ and cost significantly more than competitors. That goes to show you just how strong a brand can be.
There are countless other brands that have a cult-like following the way Apple does. This loyalty is not necessarily based on a superior product or service but a positive perception by its customers. Take Lexus for example, Lexus’ cars are made in the same factory as Toyota, contain most of the same parts, but sell for much more. Why are people spending more money on a Lexus when they could get something pretty much the same from Toyota–the brand.
Good brand marketing allows you to not only sell your product or service but to show off your brand values and the intangible elements that make a brand so special. The most successful brand marketing campaigns elicit an emotional response from customers. Your biggest goal is to have your customer associate your brand with a feeling. This is achieved through your brand strategy which encompasses design, marketing, and audience exploration. You must first find your audience and then learn how to appeal to them on an emotional level. In order to maintain a loyal customer base, you must identify their values and align your marketing strategies to show how you are ‘on the same page’.
Many companies are catching on to just how important brand strategy and good branding is. Emerging brands like Casper, Quip, Billie, and Glossier know that success happens when a good (not even great) product combines with phenomenal branding. These companies are not titans of innovation but rather companies that provide a good product or service that makes people feel like they are purchasing something amazing. Again, it’s the feeling, not the product or service itself.
Now that we have gone over the importance of the brand itself let’s take a look at what companies do with it. We have entered into the age of social media and there’s no denying that it has changed marketing. As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with information. We are almost numb to it, scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest constantly. It takes much more to get our attention these days. Perhaps this is why brands have stepped their game up. We are now so blind to advertising that in order to get our attention it has to be truly amazing.
Much of what we want to see in our brands is what we would like to see in ourselves. For Millennials and Gen-Zers, it might be innovation, social responsibility, or good design. Perhaps that is why we are trending towards the plethora of direct to consumer brands. Why is it that we trust Glossier more than Cover Girl, Quip more than Sonicare, or Billie more than Venus? It’s because all of these companies have figured out a way to make us trust, identify, and connect with them. Millennials and Gen-Zers are the groups they want to emotionally connect with. And due to their success, with relatively unremarkable products, they have seemingly convinced us.
At the end of the day, it’s not just about good graphic design (logo, fonts, and color pallet) and it’s not just about having a great product or service–it’s about finding your audience and emotionally connecting with them. This is the root of brand marketing. Marketing is no longer about the product or service itself but the story you tell about it. If you can connect with your customer on an emotional level you oftentimes have a customer for life.