Brand Strategy – A Key Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
At the core of your Brand Strategy lies the answer to this question: How would you like your company to be perceived by your customers?
Great service? Positive community influence? Best price for those spending their hard-earned money? An innovative product?
Products and services have personality traits—just like people. The traits that humans are attracted to in others are the same traits they look for in the products or services they buy.
Fascinating, isn’t it? This is why branding is important…
If you’re deliberate about brand strategy, you can influence the way your business is perceived by the rest of the world. That’s real power. Through the use of product branding: color, design, wording, and media, you can communicate the distinct personality of your company within the marketplace, making it easier to stand out and be remembered for personality of your business and for the value you provide.
Ask yourself, what does someone think of when they remember your brand?
In the cannabis industry, the color green and plants dominate the visuals of the market. As the marijuana industry becomes more and more saturated with hues of emerald, it fails to differentiate what people remember. At Team Maryjane we create branding strategies for businesses that align with their organizational purpose and with the opportunities within the competitive landscape. All companies should do this with their brand. This is especially true in the marijuana industry where many brands are struggling to find footing in the collective memory retention of consumers. But one thing is very certain…
Your brand strategy should be carried across every piece of marketing collateral – digital and print.
Your Brand Strategy Should Include:
- A clear, compelling description of your brand’s purpose and personality
- Your logo as well as corporate colors and fonts
- Core messaging that communicates the fundamental value you provide to customers, how you’re different, and why you’re the best option, through all your content
- Print marketing: Business card template and the design of marketing collateral and sales materials
- Digital marketing: social media icons for each platform, email marketing templates, video backgrounds
Creating a good Brand Strategy seems simple enough. So what’s the problem?
Most of this is common sense once you stop to think about it. And yet, most companies are routinely wasting nearly half of their annual marketing budgets. So, either their digital marketing strategies aren’t working, or they don’t really have one.
Easy enough. The problem is that the traditional types of branding strategies almost always are based on the “awareness-before-advocacy” model. This method just doesn’t work as well in today’s socially driven digital marketplace. This approach might cause a quick spike in sales, but it doesn’t lead to long-term growth.
- 81 percent of consumers in the US make purchasing decisions directly influence by social media posts made by friends.
- 43 percent of responders are more likely to purchase a new item when they have learned of it from a friend’s social media post.
- 85 percent of fans of companies on Facebook will recommend that brand to others.
- Consumers count on word of mouth from 2-10 times more than any paid media.
In other words, the recommendations of our peers hold significantly more influence than advertising campaigns. This means that the traditional model needs to be flipped on its head, replaced with an “advocacy-before-awareness” approach.
This means working to create genuinely loyal customers (brand advocates), and then relying on them to promote your products for you.
Take a look at these interesting tidbits that reflect current practices around Brand Strategy:
- 92% of consumers will trust an advocate, while only 17% will trust a brand influencer. Influencers are people like celebrities, or a twitter following of 100K likes, but who aren’t your advocates yet.
- Brand advocates are 4x as likely as non-advocates to share information about products, brands, sales, or stores via online feedback mechanisms and 50% more likely to influence a purchase.
- The average repeat customer spends 67% more in their 31st to 36th months of their relationship with a business than in months 0-6.
- It costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
Here’s what all these statistics should be shouting at you: your digital marketing budget is best spent creating groups of people who love your brand. Let’s just say it: these people are absolutely passionate about you. Their advocacy will do more for your bottom line than any one-time mention from a paid influencer ever will, because exposure does not equal advocacy.
Your Brand Strategy should not focus on how you will take over new markets and increase market share in the areas where you already have some traction. Instead, it should focus on how you can get your current customers to do this for you.
The reasons behind why any of us choose to purchase one product over another are complex. However, you can be sure that your brand is a major influence in their decision process.
Here are the questions that a good brand strategy will answer:
- What is the most important thing you want your customers to think about when your business comes to mind?
- What is the first thing you want to come to mind when they hear the name of your business?
- What do you want most associated with your business in your customer’s minds?
1.Know who you are as a company.
Define your “Big Why.” This comes from your Vision, Mission, and Values. Yes, I know… you wrote down your vision, mission and values sometime and have them around here somewhere… If you can’t immediately tell me what these elements are, then they’re not really making the impact they should, eh? These crucial elements should be the foundation for every single thing you do as an organization. They’re more important than you may realize.
2.Use your Vision, Mission Statement, and Values to outline your Business Identity. (A.K.A, Brand Identity. A.K.A, Core Message. A.K.A, Elevator Pitch.)
Sometimes in marketing, there arises several different terms that all mean the same thing. You read a book that talks about how important it is to have an “elevator pitch.” So you write one and memorize it. You’re ready. Then someone asks you what your “core message” is, and you sputter along like you can’t even remember what your business actually does. Here’s the bottom line: You should be able to describe the core value that your organization offers to the world in a few sentences. These sentences should be firmly rooted in your Vision, Mission, and Values and should make the purpose of your business crystal clear to whomever you are speaking to. Essentially, this statement communicates why your organization should exist in the world. Then, call this statement what you will.
3.Define your brand’s personality.
As humans, we tend to interpret and communicate about our world through assigning everything human traits. We say things like, “My computer is out to get me.” Or, “The sun doesn’t seem to want to come out today.”
We talk to inanimate objects as if they were human, “Come on, car, start. You can do it!”
It’s not that we actually believe that our car or computer or the sun actually possess human traits. It’s just that our perspective is firmly rooted in our humanness. How could it not be? We are better able to understand, interact and communicate about our world when we put everything into a framework that we understand: personality and intent.
Defining the personality of your brand is simply a way for you to influence which human personality traits your customers will associate with your brand. Without being deliberate about your brand’s personality, you run the risk of being either a.) completely forgettable, or b.) totally undesirable to your target market.
4.Examine your core brand elements.
With your brand’s identity and personality firmly intact, examine your logo, tagline and brand colors. Do they match? If they don’t, it might be time for a redesign. You can talk all day long about who you are, but in the end, if the image you’re putting out there doesn’t line up, no one will believe you. It’s like walking around telling people that you are an important executive while wearing a ratty sweatshirt with last month’s lasagna stains down the front. No one’s going to take you seriously, but they may think of their laundry, or lunch. Neither of these will help you, unless you’re selling laundry soap.
Is this any different for a businesses in the cannabis industry?
I just isn’t. The truth is, that while the marijuana industry has many nuances that make it unique, how humans respond to brands is the same. But do see our series on how marijuana needs, and is, getting re-branded. That’s a bit of another story…
Next in our series about Digital Marketing Strategy for the cannabis industry: How to understand and define your customers. They aren’t “everyone,” so it’s crucial to market specifically to your highly targeted demographic. And don’t worry, we’re going to help you.