As discussed previously, if a marketing strategy is the lifeblood of one’s platform/business then the brand is the skin and hair of which it communicates. While having no brand is an option (though that would still technically be a brand) having one that effectively communicates the appeal and purpose of your platform/business will bring about a significant number of positive results and lay the foundation for your funnel.
The misconception of a brand is that it is just a logo. If this were true, how is it that major brands such as apple, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and AT&T have gotten away with significantly simplifying and outright changing their logos if they were so important to the company? Because it’s not the logos that matter, but the immediate feeling and recognition one has upon seeing them.
This blog will cover the basics of building a brand and the basic overview of coming up with a target audience for your company. These will be used to tailor and fine-tune the marketing strategy from part III.
Branding: All About You
As discussed above, your brand is not just a logo (though that is a part of it) but also the personality of your business/organization/platform. It is the foundation of your marketing and the branding should reflect your business/organization values, mission, and purpose.
Brand is not limited to just these either, things like the pricing of your product, the product(s)/service(s) offered, what kind of advertising you do, the language used in the advertisements, the staff or owner, the customer service, these all play a role in how people perceive your company.
Branding significantly helps businesses because it helps you stand out; Microsoft and Apple are both computer companies but their branding greatly sets them apart and makes them very recognizable. The same can be said for McDonalds and Wendy’s, Monster and Red Bull, Playstation and Xbox, the list goes on; each are separated by their brand and product offered, and because of their enterprise level marketing and branding, these are often chosen over the local little known alternatives. These brands were built on consistency which breeds trust in the consumer.
In summary, a brand helps you stand out, brings you recognition, creates consistency and trust, all of which increases the company’s/platform’s profit or ROI (return on investment).
How to Build a Successful Brand
First, understand there are incorrect ways to build your brand. Don’t create or purchase a logo that doesn’t represent you or your business in any way, shape, or form. Example, don’t do this:
You can always start with a basic logo and tailor it to your core audience later, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a task you spend months coming up with for the perfect design. You need to know who your target audience is (we’ll deep dive into this in another blog) and develop your brand positioning – where are you located in the market (e-commerce, brick and mortar, etc.,) and what your company’s mission and core values are.
Try to be as detailed as possible so that you can better develop your message strategy. Afterwards it’s time to develop your visual identity:
What are the colors of your business/platform, what font is typically used and associated?
No matter what decisions you make when it comes to your branding, always remember to stay consistent with it. Nothing will confuse your core audience more than seeing different versions of the same business all over the place.
Case Studies of Creators
Whether intentional or not, Youtube Content Creator Markiplier has done a great job of branding and has incorporated his comedic characters into his content and branding. His is an example of the community he formed being able to craft the brand for him of which he’s utilized to produce quality content consistently. As a result, his brand is one of the most recognizable around the world when it comes to content creators.
Talented indie animator WingedWolf94 has built a following around their love of skulls and animations featuring their original characters, the most notable being their lead anti-hero “Cadaver”. With the community formed around the creations, it goes as no surprise that merchandise of the character sells out very quickly.
Iowa musician Coldsaint started off local in his hometown as an anti-bully advocate and built his community rallying around the power of music and positivity. Under the Coldsaint brand he’s performed at over 300 shows, has his own comic line, a following on social media and more.
Marketing, Branding, and Tips for Success
General tips for good marketing and branding:
Make sure you’re offering real value to your consumers/fans/customers. It does you no good to create something that no one is interested in nor does it help if you’re solving a problem that’s already been resolved in a better and more efficient way. Ask yourself, if you were the consumer/fan, “would I be interested in this?”
Always make sure you give a good customer experience and provide good customer service. It doesn’t really matter how quality or necessary your product is if their experience with your platform/service is a negative experience. Take for example the United States Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) – even though it’s 100% necessary in order to solve problems with registration and licensing with your vehicle, people avoid them at all costs due to the vast majority having negative experiences with the customer experience and service.
There is a secret to success – though I wouldn’t call it a secret, more like, best practice – and that is consistency. Most people do not like change because it screws up the consistency they come to know and trust. When people think of a brand, they know they’ll get XYZ with it, they don’t want that to change as they then have to learn to re-trust whatever that change was. Be consistent with the message of your company/platform and how it goes about production, delivery, and advertising.
Take for example Electronic Arts, rated twice as the worst company of the year two years in a row. Ill will from a core audience like that doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from a base that knew the company at its glory before they switched their process and message to the detriment of the customer. The vast majority can agree there’s worse companies out there, but the vitriol given by the core audience comes from them knowing how drastically the company’s process has changed through the years and are very unhappy with the result. Do not be EA – at least, not without an exit plan – create your message and process and stick to it.
Define your strategies based on your budget. Stop trying to be AAA on a 0 dollar budget, stop spreading yourself so thin, stop widening the scope of your projects/campaigns to mirror the success of the bigger companies/platforms you’re seeing online – there’s a REASON you’re seeing them; you’re seeing the end result of their hard work, not the beginning or the process of creation. Work your strengths and utilize the opportunities for growth in front of you, then evaluate those results, adapt, and do it again. That’s how you grow your platform.
So long as you follow these steps below, you will find success growing your platform.
Do your research on trends, competitors, keywords, your analytics (if applicable), and the social media you are on for best practices.
Plan out your marketing strategy:
- What is your goal?
- How many times will you post?
- What will you post?
- Where will you post?
- What opportunities are available to take advantage of?
- How long will your campaign last?
- What will you pay for?
- What is your budget?
Track your progress towards the goal:
- How will you track it?
- What data will you gather?
- What will you do if you don’t meet the goal?
- What will you do if you exceed your goal?
- How will you track income/outcome (if applicable)?
Execute your plan:
- What tools will you use to help you execute?
- Will you need assistance?
- What’s your backup in case a tool doesn’t work?
Evaluate the results of your campaign:
- Who was your primary demographic for success?
- How many people were reached and where?
- What age, ethnicity, interest, etc., ?
- What time period did you see the most growth?
- What time period did you see the least growth?
- What keywords saw the most traffic?
- What opportunities came up?
- What contacts did you make?
Adjust your next campaign based upon the results of your evaluation so that you can be more efficient with who you target, compound the success of the previous campaign, and achieve more growth. While the campaign may have lasted months for you, to the audience you’re reaching, it lasted mere seconds or minutes. So keep getting yourself out there!
Always make sure you’re answering these basic questions:
What is your core audience?
What problem are you solving for them?
Why should they choose you over a competitor?
Where does your audience live?
How do they best receive your information?
When is the best time to deliver your information to them?
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