What is brand marketing? A complete small business guide
- Brand marketing can boost customer loyalty and increase the value of your business name
- Keep your branding consistent, but tailor your messaging for specific audiences
- Draw inspiration from successful businesses in your industry or target market when creating your first campaign
When you recognize a Coca-Cola can before reading the label or hum “I’m Lovin’ It” without thinking about the brand name, it’s not by chance. This level of recognition is the result of a long-term brand marketing strategy. And while Coke and McDonald’s have decades of brand-building behind them, your small business branding can similarly bring you instant recognition within your target market.
So what is brand marketing, and why does it matter? Explore these actionable brand marketing tips to learn more and help you take the next step.
What is brand marketing?
Brand marketing is a strategy that links your products or services to one core identity, which shoppers connect with in a meaningful way. This helps you increase consumers’ familiarity with your brand and potentially improve your reputation.
Brand marketing is more than just getting your business name out into the world—it defines your values. Rather than making sales promotions or new products the star of your marketing strategy, brand marketing campaigns put your mission and company’s personality in the spotlight.
Benefits of brand marketing
Brand marketing creates brand equity, meaning it increases the commercial value of your company’s name. It does so by positively shaping the public perception of your products or services.
For example, Starbucks’ name carries inherent value. People buy Starbucks mugs simply because they’re sold by the brand. Starbucks consistently adds positive connotations to its business name by pushing for sustainability, offering a pathway to college program for employees, and supporting social initiatives.
While brand marketing doesn’t always deliver immediate results, it helps you develop trust over time, which is a valuable asset. More than half of consumers surveyed last year say they are willing to pay more for a brand they trust—and they’re less likely to turn to your competitors too.
Brand marketing also creates customer loyalty. While products and services fulfill a need, branding adds an emotional connection. Retaining loyal customers can increase your profits by 25% to 95%.
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How to create an effective brand marketing strategy
A strong brand takes time to build, but with the right strategy, marketers can create a foundation that allows their brand identity to flourish. Here are three tips to building a strong brand marketing strategy.
1. Develop your brand messaging
Your brand messaging is the unique value you communicate to consumers at every touchpoint. It tells people why you’re a good brand to choose, whether that’s because of your personal story, your advocacy on social issues, or your company’s commitment to meeting specific customer needs.
Girls Auto Clinic (GAC) is a brand with clear messaging: “It’s no secret most women hate their automotive buying and repair experiences because we feel misunderstood, taken advantage of, and/or mistreated… GAC empowers women to be fully engaged and confident in the purchase and management of their vehicles, and we increase the presence of women successfully and happily employed within the industry.”
This woman-owned auto repair shop expresses how it uniquely supports women car owners in its content, as well as in its offering of educational car care workshops.
To develop your messaging, consider what your brand does better than your competitors. What makes you stand out? Incorporate these takeaways in all your brand marketing campaigns.
2. Tailor your messaging for your target audience
Your brand messaging should appeal to all of your potential customers. However, personalization can elevate a brand marketing campaign from average to high-quality. Shoppers will connect to your brand even more if your campaign feels like it’s made for them.
For a tailored experience, divide your audience into three to five segments based on their shared characteristics. For example, when marketing a family law firm, it might split its target market based on clients’ needs: adoption, child custody, and divorce services.
Then, create content for your marketing channels with the segmented target audience in mind. Thinking of the same family law firm—for adoption services, it might use brand messaging focused on helping children find safe homes, while messaging for divorce services might focus on helping clients move forward with low stress and conflict.
If you have a larger marketing budget, you can also use these different messaging options within online ad campaigns. This way, every dollar you invest in brand marketing can help you deliver effective messaging to the relevant audience.
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3. Master brand consistency
On average, it takes five to seven impressions before consumers remember your brand. But if your branding isn’t consistent—for example, if you regularly change your brand colors or logo—consumers won’t be able to connect your brand identity back to your messaging.
A brand marketing plan—which may include social media, content marketing, and email marketing—should present the same look and feel for your brand across all channels. Consistency in brand marketing creates consumer awareness and brand recognition. Make all elements of your brand consistent, including:
- Logo design
- Brand colors
- Tone of voice
Successful brand marketing
What does successful brand marketing look like? A strong brand marketing campaign can clarify what your company stands for and helps you shape public perceptions of your brand.
Many of the world’s top businesses are masters at branding. These two companies offer brand marketing examples that continue to withstand the test of time.
Apple is known for its constant innovation, as well as its sleek, modern devices that appeal to consumers who value creativity. Apple is marketed as a lifestyle—one complete with beautiful aesthetics and innovative, trend-starting products. It’s no coincidence that all these elements mirror their brand marketing message, which is all about thinking different. Many of Apple‘s core products are now worth well over $1,000. Even a single Apple Pencil can cost $99—an incredible example of brand equity in action.
Brent Wesley, the owner of Ohio honey brand Akron Honey, said he looks to Apple’s example for this reason: “Apple is an exhibit in mastery of branding and making the user feel like its product is different than anything on the market. To the consumer, it is superior because it’s simple, because it works for them, and because there’s an ecosystem that’s long been built out and that works seamlessly—whether they have AirPods or they had an iPod, they all work together.”
Wesley’s taken these lessons and applied them to his own business. From packaging to social media, Akron Honey positions its product as more than just another jar of honey—it’s a brand with a compelling story, community values, and an experience in which his customers have a personal stake.
Most of Nike‘s most iconic campaigns never mention its products at all. For example, the “You Can’t Stop Us” campaign inspires consumers by showing amateur and pro athletes persevering through the pandemic. While some of the featured athletes are wearing Nike products, the focus of the campaign is the brand’s values of social justice and inclusion in sports.
Nike‘s consistent brand marketing—including its catchy “Just Do It” slogan—has earned the brand a loyal following. Many shoppers choose Nike because its brand marketing is often tied to a greater purpose (like creating equity in sports and social change via the campaign mentioned above), which helps the brand stand out from competitors.
DSM Nutritional Products
DSM Nutritional Products won multiple awards for its powerful “Products with Purpose” brand marketing campaign. The campaign helped DSM differentiate itself by helping customers visualize the benefits of health and nutrition. Through this brand marketing campaign, DSM effectively positioned itself as a company that supports the lifestyles that consumers want—whether they’re building a family, mountain biking, or spending time in the garden.
Increase value with brand marketing
When you market the full scope of your brand instead of just your products or services, you build long-term, emotional connections with loyal customers. With time, you’ll increase the value of your brand name and retain even more loyal customers.
As your brand value increases thanks to your effective messaging, framing, and consistency, learn how you can incorporate search engine optimization into your brand communication.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.