Everyone likes to talk about themselves to a degree and keeping your outward communications true to your brand (see the buzzword, on-brand) is really important. But, how do you work your brand into your marketing goals and other digital marketing material?
Today we're going to explore why your brand is greater than the sum of its parts, why your logo isn't as important as you might think, and how branding should come last when it comes to meeting your marketing objectives.
Update: if you're not sure where to start when it comes to planning out your best marketing campaign yet, our marketing strategy blueprint can help your business growth goals.
Branding - go big or go home?
We're an inbound marketing marketing agency at heart, but we also help businesses with individual marketing activities, one of which is business website design and development, and part of any web design project with an agency will be to have design proofs and mock-ups delivered to the client as a guide to how their finished website will look.
A recent phenomenon we've encountered during this part of the process is for clients to get hung up on how large their logo is and that it should always be much much bigger than how we've placed it - usually in the website's header, and maybe the footer too - and how there could be more of the brand colour splashed about the pages.
This got me thinking about how businesses can focus on the wrong part of their marketing campaigns and how we can shift this focus to help deliver campaigns that keep your brand in mind, but really help deliver your marketing objectives and meet your marketing goals much more effectively.
A quick primer on brand terms
Branding is really important, let's just establish that right now. But the terms branding, brand, and logo often get muddled together in a big, interchangeable pot. So, are there really differences between these terms and what are they?
Yes, as it happens, there is a lot difference between each term but they do have some overlap. Here's a quick breakdown of the generally accepted meanings:
Often used interchangeably with 'logo', your brand is really the combination of the whole-picture message you, as a company, try to push out to the world and the actual impression others have of your business from this. Every part of your business should be putting out the same message in the same style so that no matter where people reach you there is a consistency and people know what to expect.
For example, if you have a very professional, corporate website with particularly straight-laced copy, but your social media is very loose and informal with a completely different look and feel, this can promote a disparity to a client and perhaps even confuse them.
A good example of a consistent brand is someone like Virgin. They have a number of different companies under the Virgin umbrella, but each company is of the same brand. Virgin try to promote themselves as professional but fun, caring and friendly, but experts at what they do and this message shines through their content, no matter which channel you encounter it through.
This is very similar to the term brand, but it's usually used more in reference to the application of your brand across various media channels.
So, you may have a company brochure that contains a list of services you offer and some history of your company. The brochure's branding would contain the right colours, logo, imagery, copy style, messages and values that all your outward communication does, to keep it on the same page, so to speak.
Your logo, even if it's largely text-based, is a quick, at-a-glance, visual representation of your company. It might sound a bit fluffy, but it should do some kind of job in conveying what you're about and your company's style. Colours and graphical elements play a big part, even subconsciously, in the impression others have of your company.
Your brand matters; how do I get my branding right?
I'll say it again: your brand matters. A lot. But your 'brand' is made up of many moving parts including your logo, colouring, messages and communication, Your logo, for example, is just one part of the overall image you're trying to convey.
The trick to getting your brand right is to match the desired image of your services and products you offer to the outward communications you're putting out there in the world. It's a skill for sure, but no matter the size of your company, you should definitely spend time thinking about your brand and how to unify it across all the channels you look to communicate through.
Tangible examples are much better for getting this point across and a particularly great example is to be found on the Apple website. Love them or hate them, Apple make and sell technology products of the highest quality and attention to detail. Their website (as well as their other marketing channels) is aligned with the products they're selling.
The website is elegantly simple, slick, and screams quality from all angles, from the clever, to-the-point copy, to the superb imagery. It doesn't sell their technology products, it sells a lifestyle you'll get by using their products.
If you sell a premium, expensive product, then you need to portray that same quality and perceived premium image in your marketing; in your elegant logo, high-class images, or flawless, motivating copy. If you sell a budget range of services, you don't need quite the same image as there will be a discrepancy that customers will notice and likely be turned off by.
Your brand matters; user experience and content matter more
Once you've matched your brand to your products and services, the main goal is to provide people - your prospective clients - with the content they want to consume that helps them solve their particular problems. A good way to uncover this information is by talking to existing customers to find out more about their needs and fleshing out one or more buyer personas to help you understand your target audience's motivations.
By now you should be more familiar with the terms involved, and have a good idea of how to create your own brand, but let's put a pin in that for the time being and look at the aims of your marketing campaign.
Let's start with the what, the why and the how.
What are you trying to achieve?
When starting a marketing campaign, or even when redesigning your business website (it's an important marketing tool remember!) the best place to start is with the what: What is the aim or goal of the campaign? Are you looking to increase your website visits, or fill up your sales pipeline, or something else?
Make your goals S.M.A.R.T and then expand the other elements to your campaign out from there. By keeping goals specific and measurable, you'll be able to make more informed changes if you need to further along the line, and more importantly you'll be able to track the success of your efforts.
Why should people care about this?
You've established that you want to increase sales, or raise awareness of a product, etc., but in order to do that you need to think about your customer's why. Keep your ideal clients in mind at all times when thinking about your marketing campaigns.
You want to increase sales, but why does this matter to your prospective client? Your client cares more about their own problems and goals and will only share an interest in what you're offering if it helps them address these.
For example, your product might feature the latest in wireless technology, but your customer is more concerned with saving money. Features are great, but if you can align the benefits of your products and services to your customers' needs then your campaigns will be much more likely to succeed.
How are you going to achieve it?
You've set your goals and have a good plan on how you can position your wares to align with your target customers. Now is the hardest part: building out your campaign and content to meet the what and why.
It might be a short-term campaign, a leaflet or email blast, or it might be a longer-term piece, such as a website. Either way, you want to make sure that you're starting with some great, compelling content driving your visitors to some sort of action, and supporting it with complimentary imagery to bring it to life.
Putting it together - a working example
Let's say you're a telecoms business looking to generate more sales. You decide to launch a marketing campaign specifically to help with this.
Here's how your what, why and how might breakdown:
You want to generate more interest in your VOIP telephony products. Being S.M.A.R.T about it, your specific, measurable goals might read like this: I want to increase sales leads by 20% (starting from 30 leads per month, achieving 36 leads per month within the next 3 months).
Your target customers are small, cost-concious company owners who are looking to squeeze value from every penny, but need reliable, efficient telecoms to support their businesses. Your new VOIP solution addresses these problems by reducing monthly call costs by up to 30%, which is a great selling point and speaks directly to your audience.
You've decided to create a specific landing page on your website that purely promotes your new, cost-saving VOIP services. It has snappy, compelling copy, and some great shots of the new system to provide supporting visuals. Finally, you have a strong call to action driving your visitors to 'book a demo' of the new system and see how much they could save.
Being that this is a separate landing page, you can of course optimise it for specific search terms and get found on Google much more easily for your niche services.
So how do you apply your brand to marketing campaigns?
As we've covered, your marketing campaigns should be driving one or more business goals. If they're not, then it doesn't matter how effective your branding is, or how big your logo appears, they won't have the impact that you're looking for.
This is why we spent that last section talking about putting your brand aside to focus on marketing objectives and goals. Now they're nailed, however, we can look at how to weave your brand back into your campaign.
In the example above, the telecoms company, we arrived at creating a landing page on your business website. Well, this is the perfect place to inject your brand elements. Your logo and colour scheme will appear on the page as it's part of your website, and you can rework the copy to find the balance between good search optimisation and weaving in your company's tone of voice, and message style.
Focus on your business goals, not your logo
By keeping focussed on your users and their needs, where they encounter your brand, and how they navigate your website, you'll find that your overall marketing efforts will begin to support and drive your business goals, which is really the most important thing your marketing can achieve.
Don't worry too much about how big your logo is, or whether it dances around the screen, or even that it's prominently visible at all times. Give the people - your people - what they want, when and how they want it and you'll see your sales funnel fill up faster than ever!