Marketing Bootcamp

The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

The Nike SNKRS Station, an interactive Nike SNKRS App experience.

Image credit: Nike via Instagram

When it comes to branding, there’s no easy recipe for success. Branding is an imperfect science that boils down to constant change -- based on where you are, where you want to be and, most importantly, what the market is doing.

Related: 3 Tips for Co-Branding Happily Ever After

Just look at Nike. The athletic apparel giant has been able to succeed for generations because it’s constantly changing to meet market needs. When the company started in 1964, most people couldn't have even dreamed of the Internet. And Michael Jordan was a toddler. But, as the years passed, Nike geared up to compete.

Imagine the outcome had Nike drawn its signature "swoosh," then sat back and said, “We’re good for this generation.” The swoosh would be dead and buried at this point.

So, the lesson is clear: If you want your brand to last more than a few months, you should emulate Nike. At the core of this essential strategy is communication. Branding, after all, is a feeling that founders convey to staff, and the staff conveys to consumers.

And the key ingredient in this recipe? Consistent communication. 

So, while there isn't a single recipe for brand success, communication is what will help you create and sustain your company’s image. Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Discover your story.

Once you find your story, tell it repeatedly, in a unique voice through different mediums. Nike has been doing this since the ’70s. Its swoosh logo hasn’t changed, nor has its signature “Just Do It” slogan, but the brand is constantly adjusting its messaging to stay relevant. Even Nike sub-brands have their own Facebook pages, to run specific promotions.

This strategy doesn’t work just on glamorous products, though. When paper-converting company Oren International embraced its history and rebranded its website, conversion rates on its ebook increased dramatically.

2. Get the scoop on your customers.

Find out what your current and potential customers think of you, and use that as a launching pad. You’ll need to have a brand that retains current customers and attracts ideal customers. Thanks to the amount of data available today, you can quickly discover the latest trends about your brand and its allies.

Pepsi, for example, has changed its logo, and even its name, over the years, but the soft drink company has remained relevant by catering to customers. During the Great Depression, Pepsi branded itself as the cheaper, tastier version of Coca-Cola. And in the ’50s, the brand targeted the untapped African-American audience.

Related: Short on Time and Money? You Can Still Develop a Strong Brand.

3. Shout your message from the rooftops.

Once you know how customers perceive your brand, you’ll need to discover their preferred communication channels -- whether that means YouTube, ads at transportation hubs or B2B publications. Use those channels to broadcast your brand. And don’t forget about mobile. The use of mobile for search increased from 25 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2014. If your branding isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll lose out big time.

4. Counter your competitors.

Analyze your rivals’ weaknesses, and brand your business with a different value proposition. Some great ways to spy on your competitors include strategies as simple as reading local newspapers, trolling social media and visiting their websites or stores.

Plowz & Mowz is a dispatching service for snowplows. Much like Uber, this service allows users to locate a plow based on its proximity and pay for the service right from a mobile app. But, unlike Uber, this service is being welcomed with open arms and, thankfully, hasn’t garnered any unfavorable controversy.

5. Walk the walk.

The most important component of successful communication is authenticity. Make sure your company culture and your intentions match your brand because when customers interact with your business, their expectations must be met. This holds true for ads, personal contacts and your social pages.

Even though there isn’t a single recipe for successful branding, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with the perfect concoction for your business. All you have to do is remain agile -- constantly moving in line with market tastes and emerging channels.

With consistent communication that portrays your company authentically, your image will stand the test of time.

Related: Nike's Instagram Videos Have Helped Boost Its Following by Over 200 Percent