5 Intentionally Creative Ways to Invest in Your Brand
As a professional creative studio, we see it all the time – business owners and marketing teams spin their wheels year after year in pursuit of that magical thing that will make their company stand out. They spend time and money on one-off cut-and-dry campaigns that may see short-term results but inevitably lead them back to where they started as the campaign loses momentum.
That “magical thing” companies are looking for? Branding. And without a strong strategy and intentional creative thinking, your company’s brand can become something of a white whale. The return on investment with short-term marketing efforts may be easier to measure and digest initially, but in the long run, investing in building your brand will yield results that last longer and keep your company competitive.
So how do you make sure you’re intentionally investing in your brand and not just throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks?
Read on for the five best intentionally creative ways to invest in your brand.
1. Get to know your customers
Oftentimes, businesses believe branding starts with them. And why not? You have an excellent product or service that you’re excited about, and you want to tell the world! Well, we’ve got good news and bad news for you.
The bad news? The world doesn’t care about what you’re selling.
The good news? You don’t need the whole world to care. You just need to identify your customers – the people who are going to care about what you’re offering and who want to be invested in your brand.
Branding your business starts with knowing your audience beyond a list of standard demographics. What makes your ideal customer tick? Are they thrill-seekers or homebodies? Frugal or indulgent? Early birds or night owls? What do they value? What motivates them? You want your brand to hold a unique place in your customers’ minds, but first you need to know your customers’ minds. Interviews, surveys, and guided questions can help you identify who your customers really are so that you can invest in brand positioning that aligns with your ideal audience.
2. Get to know your competition
So you’ve gotten to know your customers, but do you know who you are competing with for real estate in their minds?
Understanding your competition as thoroughly as your customers is an important part of building your brand positioning. When you don’t know your competitors, you don’t know how to distinguish yourself from them, and if customers don’t have an easy, memorable way to distinguish your company from your competitors then you’ll lose out on their business. Take time to analyze the way other businesses in your niche are marketing themselves. What is their online presence like? What kind of customer reviews are they receiving? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they known for? Once you collect all this information, you’ll be able to identify gaps in the market and spot which customers are being underserved by your competition – which puts you in the perfect position to swoop in and provide them with what they’re looking for.
3. Get different
Now that you’ve gotten to know your customers and your competition, it’s finally time to take a good, hard look in the mirror. It may seem obvious what your business is all about – it’s your business after all – but if you’re going to build a lasting brand, you have to peel back all the layers and get to the core of what your business is and what it isn’t.
There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone, and that number gets even bigger when you add mid- and large-size businesses. That means customers are basically up to their eyeballs in brands all day, every day. So how is your business going to be the one that stands out? What makes you different? Once you unravel exactly what makes you the brightest star in a galaxy of other businesses, you can use those differentiators as a competitive advantage.
Creative thinking is key when you’re trying to identify your key differentiators. What’s your brand’s vibe? What are the functional and emotional benefits your brand offers? If your brand was a person, what would some of their characteristics be? Once you’ve established this foundation, you can begin creating your brand identity and plotting brand strategy.
4. Get consistent
Consistency is king. Read it again. Consistency is king.
By this point, you’ve spent endless hours and effort in the quest to know your customers, know your competition, and know yourself. You’ve honed in on your visual identity – your logo, your colors, your fonts, your style – and you’ve fine-tuned your messaging – your tone, your voice, your slogan, your marketing copy. You know why you stand out and how you want to show it.
But none of it amounts to branding success without consistency.
Your unique brand positioning within the minds of your customers will take time to build, which means your branding needs to be predictable. The end goal of branding is for any of your customers to see a product or ad and instantly recognize that it’s from your business and associate positively with it. To achieve this, you need to control how your brand is perceived with clear, consistent brand identity and brand strategy across every aspect of the customer experience. If your customers know what to expect from your brand because of its predictable and consistent messaging, they know they can trust your brand. When your customers trust your brand, they’ll connect with it positively. This is why it’s critical to establish clear brand guidelines that can be applied across the spectrum of your business’s messaging and content.
5. Get creative
Branding your company starts with ideas. Every aspect of your business is ultimately driven by ideas. But ideas don’t grow without intentionally creative time and effort. Discovering the essence of your business can feel daunting. A brand isn’t a tangible asset you can measure or just a logo on some packaging. Building a strong brand requires out-of-the-box thinking and careful creative management. Before you begin the process of branding or rebranding your company, make sure you have the creative tools and resources you need to guide your branding journey down its optimal path. If you find yourself or your marketing department lacking the time or know-how to spearhead a branding effort, consider a creative studio that specializes in creating brand identities and brand strategies. A good creative studio will be able to provide the structure, expertise, and creative thinking needed to build a truly memorable brand identity that fits the ethos of your company and give you the support you need to execute your branding across all levels of your business.
It can easily be argued that branding your business is one of the single most important parts of long-lasting business success. When you think of some of the heaviest hitting companies on the scene now, they all have one thing in common – good branding. In fact, Interbrand, an international brand consultancy agency that specializes in brand strategy and analytics, reported that based on their analysis of best global brands compared against the S&P 500 from 2000 to 2017 it is clear that there’s “enduring proof that investment in long-term brand-building enables businesses to thrive over time and survive market volatility.”
Don’t put investing in your brand identity and strategy on the back burner. The long-term value of ongoing brand building can’t be overstated in a world where customers are buried in targeted commercial messaging every day. Good branding will help you cultivate relationships with your customers and build a following that not only wants to buy your product, but cares about your company.