According to a survey by Circle Research, 77 per cent of B2B marketing leaders say that successful business branding strategy is a critical part of business growth.
Today’s consumers are more sophisticated than ever, and they are much more mindful about which brands they choose to work with.
So if you want to have a chance to carve out your place in the market, you need to have a business branding strategy that’s based on sound practices.
Companies that manage to develop a brand that resonates with their target audience have much better odds of finding success, even in fields dominated by big-budget companies.
However, how to get started with developing a business branding strategy?
Well, to get you going in the right direction, here are five steps that you should add to this year’s branding to-do-list.
Identify Your Ideal Customers
One of the most common mistakes brands make is trying to appeal to everyone – instead of broadening their reach, it usually has the opposite effect and makes the brand bland and unappealing to anyone.
That’s why the first step to a successful business branding strategy is figuring out exactly who you want to target.
It’s essential to be as thorough and specific as possible when narrowing down the ideal customer that you want your brand to speak to – that’s the only way to approach branding from a position that can help your brand stand out from the crowd of competitors to the person that you want to engage.
If you have a client base that you’ve worked with before, then your job will be easier – just look at your previous interactions with customers and identify the ones that are the most profitable and compatible with what you have to offer.
However, if you’re just starting out, don’t worry – it can serve as an opportunity to model your brand to fit the segment of your market that is neglected by other companies or provide a new and fresh angle that will help you lure away customers from the competition.
When identifying your target audience, the key is to develop a customer profile with as much information as possible.
Start by writing down the most basic information such as age, gender, occupation, unique traits, interests, education, and anything else that you can think of.
This will serve as a basis that will then allow you to figure out what they are more likely to respond to, places that they hang out online, publications they like to read, and their shopping habits.
If you take the time to dig into developing the avatar of your ideal customer, you will start seeing unique branding opportunities that are ideal for reaching them and will have a much clearer understanding of what you need to focus on next.
Figure Out What Your Brand is All About
All of the top brands in the world do a great job of telling their story.
They represent a way of life and are so ingrained into people’s minds that you can’t help but associate athletic performance with Nike or smartphone innovation with Apple, even if you don’t use the products yourself.
So, if you want to be able to make your brand speak to your ideal customer, you must have an exciting story as well.
If you took the time to develop a customer avatar, this step would be more natural –you‘ll already have at least a basic idea of the obstacles your prospects are facing and will have a better chance of developing a brand identity that serves to overcome those obstacles.
You want your brand to be a symbol of what your target customers aspire to be or and should try to become associated with that, even if there is without additional context.
All of your communications, your design elements, and the products themselves should be aligned with the brand identity that you develop at this stage, so make sure that you have a solid understanding of what your brand needs to become.
Study the market and look for the common traits that most brands in your industry have – you will not only get a better understanding of what buyers are more likely to respond to but will also start to notice opportunities for brand positioning that could help you provide unique benefits that separate you from everyone else.
Make sure that you take the time to develop a customer journey map so that you know exactly where your ideal customers are right now and where they want to go with the help of your products.
That will help you develop a
business branding strategy that emphasises this journey or transformation and serves as an integral tool in making it happen.
Tell Your Story through Content
As we already talked about in the previous section, having a unique brand identity that resonates with your audience and forms positive associations with your company is essential.
However, if you want your business branding strategy to deliver the results that you want, you need to be able to communicate your values and ideas to the people that you want to reach.
After all, it won’t matter how appealing your brand is if your customers don’t know about it.
Part of this process involves communicating what your brand is about through advertising, but the time and space limitations of paid advertising mean that you won’t be able to start a conversation.
That’s why content marketing should be an integral part of your business branding strategy.
Numerous content marketing benefits can help you communicate your core messages to your audience, while at the same time presenting your vision and developing your brand’s voice that is critical to forming a lasting bond with customers.
You can use content and infographic marketing to educate readers about your products, helping them overcome obstacles, and showcasing what your brand is all about, while at the same time positioning your company as an authority and trustworthy source of information in your field.
An added benefit of content marketing is that it promotes communication and interaction with your target audience – unlike most paid advertising that only allows for a one-way conversation, content can help you start a dialogue and interact with real people that are a part of your target audience.
That will not only give you invaluable insights about how to better satisfy their needs but will also give your brand a more approachable personality, which can be a game-changer in a world where people are becoming more sceptical towards faceless corporations that don’t have a clear identity.
You can also use content to take a proactive approach in answering questions and resolving customer issues – many successful brands are implementing knowledge base software solutions to form an extensive knowledge base that can be used by both the support staff and the users themselves to find all the answers that they are looking for quickly.
Be Consistent with Your Brand Identity
Developing a brand that’s appealing to your target audience is a lengthy and challenging process, so you don’t want to waste your efforts by not being consistent in the way that you present yourself in the marketplace.
You need to ensure that all of your communications, visual elements and positioning are in-sync throughout all of your marketing and content efforts because otherwise, you will be sending mixed signals to your audience and hindering your chances of success.
If you use knowledge base software, you can develop comprehensive brand guidelines that you distribute internally so that everyone developing messages and marketing materials know how to remain consistent and have a point of reference they can refer to.
This way, each communication can help to form a deeper connection with your audience and serve as a part of a more significant core message.
Of course, that might mean having to say no to some potentially appealing marketing opportunities because they’re just not the right fit for your brand and what it represents, but in the end, it’s better to focus your budget and efforts into marketing campaigns that help you highlight your brand instead of those that could be incompatible.
Use Influencer Marketing to Maximise Your Reach
Influencer marketing is a relatively new strategy, but it is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to market your business and achieve your branding goals.
While some brands are still afraid to use it because it’s more challenging to predict returns, those that do take the time to develop an influencer marketing campaign can receive a massive influx of new leads for a relatively affordable price, while at the same time gaining incredible brand exposure to the most critical segments of their audience.
Now, when thinking of influencer marketing, you may imagine getting your brand promoted by Instagram celebrities with millions of followers.
However, while that is indeed one way to do it unless, you have a six-figure marketing budget, that may not be the most feasible option for your business.
Luckily, there are ways to implement influencer marketing even if you’re a small brand that’s just starting out.
You see, for every top-tier social media influencer with millions of followers, there are dozens if not hundreds of smaller influencers with anywhere from a few thousand to a hundred thousand followers.
These people often have a loyal and incredibly responsive audience that’s interested in what they recommend, so this presents a unique opportunity for smaller brands to engage audiences they may not have any other way of reaching.
Since these influencers don’t have a huge following, they are often much more accessible to approach and negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement with, since they don’t receive that many offers to promote someone else’s products.
However, there are challenges for making this business branding strategy work.
Since these micro-influencers have a smaller following, they won’t be as easy to find – you may have to dig deep in your niche to discover the people that are having meaningful discussions in your niche and have a following that’s responsive and likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
If you took the time to develop your customer profile, you can look at the demographics of whom you want to reach and then try to identify the influencers that have a similar follower base, but if you find someone posting content that’s relevant and in-tune with your brand, that can work as well.
When you do find the right person to work with, you will need to develop the message that you send out through their profile.
One thing to consider is that while it’s essential to stay on-brand for yourself, you should also consult with the influencer to make sure that the message is consistent with their other communications to achieve the best results.