When changes occur in your industry or your customer base evolves, is your business nimble enough to reflect those changes in your marketing campaigns? More importantly,
can you maintain the trust of existing customers and build trust among prospective customers without damaging your brand?
For many businesses, problems occur when their marketing strategy veers from what their brand stands for. This creates confusion in the minds of the target audience, threatening the brand’s most valuable components — its inherent integrity and how it differentiates itself from the competition.
Large companies often have entire departments dedicated to maintaining a cohesive, integrated approach to brand building and marketing campaigns. But smaller businesses with fewer resources must pay special attention to designing and executing marketing campaigns that stay consistent with their brand.
Typical branding and marketing errors include:
1. A lack of attention paid to marketing materials
Many small businesses embark on marketing campaigns that violate the sanctity of their logo, tagline, brand colors, etc. As Avin Kline at Intentionally Digital writes, this results in “unintentionally hurting their brand by trying to handle their marketing ‘on the go,’ without paying too much attention to branding guidelines and consistency with their marketing materials.”
2. A focus on product promotion, rather than building a community on social media
In their haste to get on the social media bandwagon, some small businesses emphasize blatant product promotion on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This marketing approach fails to create a community of followers loyal to the brand. It also tarnishes the brand’s appeal among social media platforms whose users are notoriously hostile to a traditional hard sell.
3. A 'quantity over quality approach' to content marketing
The wrong type of content marketing — another facet of a business’s overall marketing strategy — can also harm a brand’s effectiveness. This stems from the mistaken belief that, with so many channels to cover, a brand can only maintain awareness by blanketing platforms with an endless stream of content. This excess of content (relevant or not) dilutes customers’ interest in and adherence to a brand.
“Instead of focusing on quantity, marketers must focus on the quality of their content,” writes Anna Papachristos at 1to1 Media. “Engaging material has the power to strengthen customer loyalty and advocacy, while mediocre work will likely have the opposite effect.”
Branding vs. marketing
Part of the problem is a misconception of the differences between branding and marketing. In the minds of customers, your brand isn’t the product itself, nor is it your company’s messaging, logo, website design, advertisements, etc. Your brand consists of the perception customers have about the business and how it makes them feel.
A marketing campaign employs tactics designed to reinforce your brand promise. Marketing should enhance what your brand means, not distract from it, and communicate the value of your brand in ways that build a growing sense of trust and comfort among current and prospective customers.
Although the methods utilized in marketing campaigns can vary from season to season (including social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, pay-per-click marketing, mobile marketing, print campaigns, etc.), they must support your brand’s core values. Tools and tactics can be adjusted depending on the audience and changes in market conditions, but your brand “must always remain a constant.”
Stay focused on customer behavior
Perhaps the most effective guidepost for aligning branding and marketing rests with an in-depth knowledge of customer behavior. This involves keeping a laser focus on:
- Precise customer demographics
- Their buying habits
- Their preferred social media channels
- Their prior purchasing experiences (good and bad)
By compiling and analyzing data, thus garnering valuable insights on customer behavior, new marketing campaigns can be designed that strengthen trust and bolster your brand promise.
Consistent messaging is essential for reinforcing your brand in the minds of customers. Every marketing campaign you embark on should reflect what they want and need, while sticking closely to what your brand has come to stand for. The result will be a unified brand experience that doesn’t change, regardless of where customers encounter your business — be it online, in print, or in conversations with your employees or sales team.
Written by Claire Prendergast, agencyEA