Originally published on Looka.com
What do brands like Apple, Nike, or Coca-Cola have in common? They all started with a concept that was bigger than the products they sold.
This concept evolved into products that built the foundation for the mega brands you see today. Decades later, these brands continue to inspire customers through the power of brand marketing.
If you hope to gain customers that will be loyal to your brand for years, brand marketing is the secret sauce. We’ve got the recipe on how to build a good brand strategy along with examples for inspiration.
Let’s dive in!
What is brand marketing?
The main goal of marketing your brand is to build customer loyalty, get customer referrals, gain recognition, and charge more for products. A long-term goal many businesses overlook!
It involves creating a brand identity and marketing your products or services as a concept or lifestyle that goes beyond your products. As emotional creatures, humans are much more likely to purchase when being sold a feeling created by a brand.
The difference between branding and marketing
A brand is the identity and personality of your business. Branding means creating brand assets like designing a logo, color palette, and typography that distinguishes your brand.
Marketing is the process of building brand awareness and selling products and services to customers. Anything from using ads and posters to social media posts is marketing.
How to create a brand marketing strategy
We’ve outlined a step-by-step process to building a killer brand marketing strategy that makes your customers swoon. Let's get started!
1. Establish your brand story and purpose
Think of your small business’ purpose and outline your brand story. This is unique to you!
Use this to create a brand that will resonate with your audience and forge an emotional connection to your brand. For example, look at Lululemon’s story:
“We wanted to create a community hub where people could learn and discuss the physical aspects of healthy living, mindfulness, and living a life of possibility.” – Lululemon
What started as inspiration to build a wellness community ended up as a global brand known for premium yoga apparel.
Lululemon’s brand marketing strategy used its story to connect premium products to a healthy, mindful and active lifestyle. People resonate with that brand story, and as a result, they buy the products.
To solidify your brand purpose, answer the following questions:
What challenges does your product or service solve?
How do you want your brand to make people feel?
Does your brand impact people and the planet?
2. Define your target market
Your target market is your potential customers, so start by pinpointing the details of your ideal client. This helps clarify who you want your brand to resonate with, and how you can target them with marketing.
Outline the following details of your ideal customer:
Age and gender
Hobbies and passions
How can your product help?
What social media platforms do they use?
Where do they usually shop?
Here’s an example of the answers you need to outline an ideal customer:
3. Build brand guidelines
Brand guidelines are the rules you follow to be consistent and build recognition and trust. It takes the guesswork out of creating assets and marketing materials for your business!
Brand guidelines cover the following:
Tone of voice
To maintain consistency no matter the medium, some brands also include video style guides, packaging parameters, and more. Here’s an example of what brand guidelines look like:
4. Study your competition
List of your top competitors and study their products, branding, and pricing. This way, you’ll understand the ecosystem of brands you’re competing with.
Look for weaknesses in how they market or represent their brand and create a competitive advantage around this.
Tip: Choose a color palette, typography, and logo design that distinguishes you from the competition. This will give you leverage by offering something new and different than what’s already on the market.
Think of a Coca-Cola beverage. Although it’s full of sugar (39g in each can!) people still buy it. Competitors are capitalizing on Coca-Cola’s weaknesses by creating soft drinks with healthy ingredients, reduced sugar, and more modern brand personalities.
Here’s an example:
Traditional pop products have solid, dark color palettes with tons of sugar and artificial flavors.
Olipop’s brand strategy targets both outdated branding and unhealthy ingredients. They set themselves apart by using light pastel colors, minimalistic branding, and healthy ingredients. Talk about refreshing!
5. Evolve your brand
Your business and brand will need to adapt to changing consumer preferences and new competitors.
Although consistency is key to brand recognition, your brand needs to stay afloat by always adapting to change. When brand and logo redesigns happen, they signal a change in product offering to support new consumer trends.
For example, General Motors rebranded to adapt to preferences for electric vehicles and environmental laws. They updated their branding to reflect their new vision below:
Clean, sleek, and modern, their new logo signals their commitment to an efficient future.
Your brand and messaging will have to be flexible as well! Always stay in tune with your environment and consumer preferences. Otherwise, your competitors will take advantage of your weaknesses.
Brand strategy examples
With your brand marketing down, think about an overall brand strategy and how you’ll position yourself in the long term. Here are some world-famous examples of brand strategy done right!
Airbnb differentiated its brand by offering an authentic local experience, an affordable price. Their slogan “Belong Anywhere” inspires customers with the spirit of traveling like a local.
They found a gap in the market and used a blue ocean strategy to “create and capture uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant” as the strategy states.
Tip: A blue ocean strategy is “the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand.” An approach many forward-thinking companies base their brand strategy around.
Tesla differentiated itself by offering the first-ever luxury electric vehicles. Meeting both environmental and consumer needs, Tesla’s strategy challenges the gas-powered status quo with futuristic-looking electric cars.
Their brand strategy is based on making the future of transportation sustainable. They do this through futuristic branding that distinguishes them from traditional car companies (and traditional values). As a result, people feel like they’re part of the climate change solution when they buy a Tesla car!
3. Dollar shave club
Dollar Shave Club gave the $8 billion shaving empire, Gilette, a run for their money by offering affordable prices for premium-quality razors.
Their brand marketing was relatable and hilarious- giving them an edge over Gilettes uninspiring ads. Their brand colors are warmer than Gilettes, and their brand voice is friendly and approachable. A perfect example of taking something as simple as a razor and making it fun.
Lyft uses differentiation in brand voice to resonate with consumers on a more personal level. The product is the same as Uber, but the experience is different. They focus on community building with the slogan “Your friend with a car”.
Their branding reflects this with a bubbly, approachable, and bright appeal compared to the dark and geometric look of Uber.
Most apparel companies focus on differentiating their brand, others choose a no-brand approach altogether. MUJI is a Japanese brand that means “plain”. They compete by offering generic but high-quality products at affordable prices.
As a result, people flock to them for basic needs, leaving competing brands in the dust. Their branding is simple, clean, and classic. Just like their clothing and brand strategy!
Brand marketing takeaways
Keep these main takeaways in your back pocket:
Sell a lifestyle: Brand marketing means marketing your products or services as part of a lifestyle. Sell more than a product, sell a feeling.
Establish your brand story: Find your purpose and use it to connect with your target audience
Define your target market: Outline your target audience to easily target and tailor to their needs
Create brand guidelines: Consistency is key to building a trustworthy brand Study your competition: Always choose brand assets that distinguish you from competitors
Evolve your brand: Always keep an eye on changes in customer preference and competitor offerings
Think long-term: Learn from world-class brands like Airbnb, Tesla, and Lyft. Find your edge through brand differentiation and unraveling new, underserved markets.