Today’s article is a guest post by Beth PopNikolov, CEO of the digital marketing agency, Venveo. Beth knows what it takes for companies to stand out and reach the right customers.
The power of building a brand that’s memorable and distinct is often overlooked in the building products world. Investing in a true Brand with a capital “B” is more closely associated with aesthetic products, furnishings and finishes.
And if you think branding is only important for fluffy finishes or B2C products, you’re risking alienating the pros who want a reason to choose you over your competitors, but can hardly tell the difference between your product and your competitors’.
Your product is only a commodity if you treat it like one.
What’s Branding and Why Do Building Products Need It?
Branding isn’t just the size of your logo. It’s not just your colors or fonts.
Your brand’s real purpose is to leave your customers with a specific feeling they can’t get anywhere else. It should make them believe something is possible that wouldn’t be possible without you.
Yes, I said “feeling.”
We’re emotional beings. Even in B2B, most sales decisions come down to emotions. If I believe you can solve my problem, I’m going to buy from you.
So, like everything else, your brand isn’t actually about you. It’s about your customer.
If your brand screams the importance of who you are instead of what your customer can achieve with your products, you’re missing the mark.
If your brand is more a byproduct of the sheer volume of SKUs available, that’s missing the mark as well.
Your brand is how you distinguish yourself in the marketplace and how you separate yourself from competitors.
As we move into an unpredictable economy, having the right brand will become a critical component of ultimate success.
The right brand gives customers a glimpse at how your products or services solve their problems, which in turn helps you grow your audience, sales and brand recognition.
How To Create a Brand That Stands Out From the Competition
Creating a brand that sets itself apart comes down to establishing a customer-focused strategy. First things first, identify your audience and find out what problems they want to solve.
Is your audience looking for inspiration? Expert advice? Educational content? Pinpoint exactly what they need and provide solutions.
Think of your brand like a person. It has a personality, a sense of humor, things it likes or doesn’t like, things it knows better than anyone else.
A great way to create a brand your customers will trust and remember is to relate it to an iconic figure (think celebrity, historical figure, even fictional figures like Jack Bauer).
Ask the question “If my company was an iconic figure, who would it be and why?”
Then, create an unforgettable brand experience.
Develop a design that best represents your company and captivates your audience, and utilize content that provides value without being too product-focused. Make each marketing platform user-friendly and stay consistent throughout every touchpoint.
The Importance of Consistency in Branding
No matter how reliable your product or service is, if your branding is inconsistent, it communicates a lack of care and breaks trust with potential customers. Consistency is the key to building a relationship with customers – it sets the tone for who you are as a brand, how you operate as a company and what they can expect from your products.
The more consistent you are with your branding, the more trustworthy you become. This means staying consistent with your messaging, voice and persona, but also with design details like colors, fonts and other visual elements across all platforms.
Tips for Keeping Your Branding Strategy on Track
While creating a branding strategy is a critical part of brand success, that strategy won’t matter if it’s not maintained. Here are three ways that you can ensure your branding strategy stays the course over time.
1. Establish Goals and KPIs
Setting goals for your branding strategy shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you don’t set goals early on, how are you going to know what success looks like?
Once you identify what you want to accomplish, you can work on a branding game plan.
2. Track Your Progress
Data is essential when creating a brand strategy. It’s important to see where you got it right and where you need to improve. It takes the guesswork out of your marketing progress and allows you to pinpoint where you should focus your efforts.
3. Utilize Software and Online Tools
Above, we touched on the importance of consistency in branding. Good news! There are tools to help you maintain consistency on your marketing platforms.
For example, you can take advantage of scheduling tools like Sprout Social, Later, Hubspot and Brandwatch for your social media accounts.
Branding Mistakes to Avoid
Sometimes the best advice you can get is knowing what not to do. Here are some common mistakes that brands make across their marketing platforms.
1. Trademark Overload
Some brands include a trademark on every reference of a product or company name, but this can be frustrating to read from a user’s perspective. Include the trademark only the first time the product or company is mentioned.
2. Joining the Trends Bandwagon
New trends are constantly emerging. Many companies hop on the bandwagon and shift their branding focus. While some trends may be worth a try, most of them are just a distraction from your established strategy.
3. Targeting the Wrong Audience
Creating a customer-centric branding strategy should be a priority, but you must target the right audience to ensure success. If your customers aren’t getting content that addresses their needs, they will lose interest.
The Future of Branding in the Materials Industry
It’s no secret that ecommerce gained major popularity in recent years, and it’s only going to keep growing. Branding will remain an important player in online, omnichannel marketing in the upcoming years.
Consistency will continue to be a driving component of a strong branding strategy. No matter what, maintaining a consistent, reliable brand should always remain a priority.
When looking at customer personas, millennials will be a big future target audience, and they might have different branding expectations. A Deloitte survey found that many millennials aren’t influenced by brands that focus on hard sells – they are more interested in brands that prioritize ethical values, which may cause some branding shifts.
The right brand can mean game-changing longevity for sales growth.
The importance of branding isn’t going anywhere — if anything, it will only become more essential. If your company isn’t focusing on branding, now is the time to start.