Sometimes you just need to turn up the volume. Crank up the amps. Blow the roof off. Whether you’re listening to music or working on your brand strategy, a little intensity can reveal attributes you may not have heard or felt before. When talking about branding, this kind of power boost can amplify your effectiveness.
In this Business2Community article, Savannah Marie dives into creating a comprehensive brand strategy. We picked our top three tips…and added in some additional insights to help you amplify the effectiveness of your brand strategy. Here’s how you can pump it up:
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Spy
When it comes to “spying,” you don’t have to be James Bond with the latest gadgetry provided by Q. Nor do you have to emulate Ethan Hunt on an impossible mission. Nothing illegal! Rather, it’s doing research on your competition.
“You should be aware of what strengths your competitors have, especially if they happen to be your weaknesses,” Marie says. “Be aware of their successes and failures, how they compare to your own, and what you can learn from them.”
Start with competitors’ websites, blogs and social media profiles. What are they saying about themselves? How do they present their products and services? How do they interact with their audience online?
Sign up for any webinars hosted by the competition and download the whitepapers they publish. This will give insight into their knowledge base and depth of expertise.
Look for media placements in applicable trade or association publications, local news outlets and magazines that service your industry. Set up google alerts for your business as well the competition’s company name and any keywords in which you both specialize so you can monitor what others are saying.
Attend tradeshows where they exhibit and events they sponsor. How do they market themselves in person? Does their staff wear branded corporate apparel? Do they give away swag?
For those with B2C businesses, visit the establishment to observe the location layout, décor, signage, music playing, employees, etc. What kind of vibe does it have? How do employees interact with prospective buyers?
As you build dossiers on the competition, evaluate your similarities and differences. Identify any gaps where you could meet customer needs that aren’t currently being addressed. The point of the exercise is not to imitate what your competition is doing. Rather, it’s finding your own direction by knowing the path others are taking.
2. Solve Specific Problems & Use Specific Words
Once you understand the competitive environment, you can begin to craft specific messaging around the specific problems you solve. “This is how you separate your brand from the rest,” says Marie.
To illustrate the point, let’s look at a business we’ve all experienced: Pizza restaurant.
Did you know there are 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S. that sell three billion pizzas every year? Wow. So with that number of potential competitors, how do you differentiate yourself beyond location? Perhaps you specialize in artisan-style pizza, for example. To be successful, you must go beyond just selling good pizza.
“What else do you do that’s great?” Marie asks. “Maybe you pair pizza with specialty craft beer? Maybe the pizza ingredients are completely organic and your pizza boxes can be recycled as lunch boxes? Whatever your company chooses to highlight, it has to be specific and either unique enough or fabulous enough to make you stand out from the millions of other pizza sellers.”
Here’s where the specific messaging comes into play. The wording to describe exactly what you do has the power to differentiate you from all others. So choose the words wisely—and incorporate them into every kind of communication produced on your website, blog, social media, printed collateral, press releases, media interviews, etc.
The messaging you create also impacts the kind of swag that will best represent your brand. Continuing with the pizza example, let’s say your pizzeria uses organic, locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant has solar panels to create its own energy and the delivery vehicles are eco-friendly electric models. “Big Taste. Little Footprint.” is your tag line. Thus, the swag you choose must be consistent with this messaging and properly represent your values.
Rather than virgin cotton t-shirts with traditional inks for staff uniforms, a better choice would be a sustainable fabric (such as bamboo shirts) with your logo imprinted in eco-friendly inks. Standard imported plastic ink pens should be replaced with a domestic pen with a recyclable paper barrel and molded plastic details made from post-consumer recycled material. And these are just a few of the options.
3. If It Doesn’t Reinforce Brand Message, Lose It
There’s a lot of pressure on marketing managers to get likes and shares on social media. Always after the elusive piece of content that goes viral, many make the mistake of creating content that has little, if nothing, to do with their brand.
“This is one area so many brands get wrong, especially on social media,” Marie says. “It’s easy to assume that posting a humorous photo or video will engage your audience. However, instead of being engaged, your audience might just end up confused if it doesn’t fit your brand’s message. If your goal is humor, make sure it supports your overall brand message and values. That way, your brand will be represented when your fans share it with potential customers.”
The same can be said about swag. Sometimes the swag that ties beautifully into your values and messaging falls flat because it doesn’t really align with your audience. Or perhaps over time your audience and/or brand messaging has changed, leaving you with excess swag.
Let’s say you have some great promotional calculators. Unfortunately, they didn’t add up for your audience because they prefer to use the calculator app on their phones or tablets. Rather than trying to force issue and use the items in a context that doesn’t make sense, donate them to a school or educational center to help kids learn important math skills. You’ll be a superhero for helping out, make the mental and physical space for swag that’s more appropriate for where you are now…and your storage closet will sigh with relief.
Become A Brand Strategy Rock Star
Purchasing decisions are based upon many factors—not just price. Quality, service, convenience and status, to name a few, also play a role. “When consumers spend money on high end products, they’re paying for a brand’s name, not a product, because they have a personal or emotional connection to it,” says Marie. “What your brand strategy must work toward is just that—creating an emotional desire or subconscious reaction to your brand. One strong enough that they would pay $90 for something they could get for $35.”
Want to turn up the volume for your brand? We can help. Book an appointment by clicking here or call us now at 248-538-4700 to learn how to amplify your brand strategy by incorporating SMART Swag. We promise it will be music to your ears—and we’ll even send you some SMART Swag of your own for mentioning the blog!