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What is brand marketing? The complete guide

What is Brand Marketing? Image of a quirky ceramics homepage and branding

The goal of marketing is to get people to buy your product, right? Well, not always.

Unlike acquisition and retention marketing which aim to generate sales, you shouldn’t overlook another crucial objective: building brand awareness and engagement. This includes influencing consumer brand perception, establishing your business as a key player in the industry and building a community of fans.

Marketing strategies that target these goals are known as brand marketing. Brand marketing starts with strengthening your brand identity, making sure to create a website to put your business online and promoting your branding on various channels. These activities pique your audience’s interest and build your company’s reputation.

Let’s go over the ins and outs of effective brand marketing:

What is brand marketing?

Brand marketing comprises the campaigns that a company uses to message its brand and vision to consumers. Unlike other types of marketing, these campaigns focus on changing or maintaining brand perception. Key performance indicators for brand marketing include measurements of increased brand awareness and engagement with a target audience. Unlike standard marketing practices, the goal of brand marketing isn’t to make sales. Instead, the main objective is to spread the word about your brand while amassing an army of devoted fans and followers. This makes it different from referral marketing which has similar goals in terms of increased brand awareness but which does want to generate sales.

Branding vs brand marketing

A company creates its brand at the outset of its journey. It decides on the color palette, logo, brand voice and messaging it will use to distinguish itself in the marketplace. Brand marketing, on the other hand, are the tactics and campaigns a company uses to reinforce its brand to consumers. Brand marketing is a long-term strategy that requires repeated efforts and investment to grow loyal customers and brand affinity overtime.

How to create a brand marketing strategy

To build an effective brand marketing strategy, you’ll need to build a strong brand identity and use strategic messaging to reach your customers. Here’s how to get started:

01. Write a vision statement

A vision statement declares company’s aspirations for the future. For instance, Amazon’s vision statement is “to be the world’s most customer-centric company.” Ikea’s vision is to create better everyday lives for as many people as possible. And Google’s vision is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

As you can see, a company’s vision statement is the broad business equivalent of “What are your dreams for the future?”

The broadness helps ensure consistency across your messaging, anchoring your entire brand strategy.

If you haven’t already written a vision statement, here’s how:

  • Explain what your business sells or does

  • Communicate your long-term goals

  • Tie in your brand values

  • Keep it short and concise

Once you define your vision, keep it top of mind as you build brand awareness and spread the word about your product. Whether it’s the font color on your app or the language you use in an ad campaign, every brand aspect must align with your company’s aspirations.

02. Determine your target audience

The next step of brand marketing is to define your target audience—those you’ve identified as potential customers of your brand. Your campaigns should resonate with them and make them excited about your company.

To determine your target audience, answer the following questions:

  1. What needs does your product address?

  2. What kinds of people would benefit most from your product?

  3. Do your existing customers have any shared characteristics? For example, are most of them in the same demographic? Do they have any common hobbies or careers?

  4. What kinds of people do your competitors target? (Hint: You can learn this by looking at the marketing campaigns and brand messaging of other companies in your industry.)

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll understand the people who receive your brand campaigns and can tailor your marketing materials to them.

03. Define your brand identity

What’s your company’s brand identity? If you can’t immediately answer this question, you probably need to refine it.

Brand identity is the framework that underlies successful brand messaging. You’ll need to incorporate it into every piece of material you create, whether it’s your website, a print ad or an influencer marketing campaign. Here’s everything you need to establish a strong brand identity:

  • Logo: Creating a logo is the first step in brand marketing development. Think about McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s swoosh. These images have become synonymous with the brands themselves and appear in all of their marketing and branding campaigns. If you don’t have one yet, try out this logo maker to get started.

  • Slogan: If your logo acts as your brand’s face, your slogan encapsulates its personality. “I’m lovin’ it” exudes friendliness and cheer, while “Just do it” motivates and inspires. Write a slogan based on how you want others to perceive your brand, and use it as the foundation for your brand marketing efforts.

  • Imagery: This includes both your brand’s color palette and the types of images you use. Just like your logo and slogan, you’ll want your images and colors to exude your business’s personality. Are your colors vibrant or pastel? Are your images dark and edgy, or optimistic and upbeat? Consider the ways different choices would influence consumer perception of your company.

  • Voice: Every piece of marketing has a voice. Your personality shines through that voice, whether written or spoken. As you craft your marketing materials, think about how a different sentence structure, word choice or tone might affect the way people see your brand.

Once you’ve defined your different brand identity elements, remember to stick to them in every piece of marketing material you create. Overtime, consumers will come to recognize them as a key part of your brand and market.

04. Promote your brand strategically

Once you’ve established your overarching goals, determined your target audience and built a strong brand identity, it’s time to start promoting your brand. For your brand marketing to be effective, you’ll need to send the right message to the right people on the right channels.

In terms of messaging, remember that the main goal of brand marketing is to drive brand awareness and engagement rather than make sales. That means you should design your campaigns around getting people to know, love and interact with your brand.

Start by creating a website so you can put your company’s presence online. Then, think about the relevant types of marketing for your audience. If your audience is in their teens and 20s, you might want to try promoting on Tik Tok. If you’re marketing to passionate foodies, you may want to try an influencer marketing campaign with a well-known food blogger. You can also consider offline channels, like print, billboard, radio and TV ads or PR.

In addition, make a plan not only for spreading brand awareness, but also driving brand engagement. Digital marketing efforts—and email marketing and social media campaigns in particular—allow you to constantly interact with consumers and get them talking about your brand. Use your website to get people to sign up for email newsletters and then send them curated content that they’ll look forward to every week. Come up with creative social media ideas that will encourage people to comment, like, follow and share.

Remember that brand marketing is an ongoing effort. If you truly want to position your brand as one of the best in the field, you’re going to need to create campaigns on a consistent basis. Whether you work alone or on a team, use a calendar to track your brand marketing efforts and ensure that you never miss a day.

05. Make sure your product reflects your brand

Finally, don’t forget that every marketing message you create is a promise to consumers. If you say that your product will function a particular way or that your company has a particular set of values, you need to follow through on these promises to maintain your reputation. Otherwise, customers may lose trust in your company, doubt your authenticity or abandon you for a competitor. At the same time don't be afraid to lead with a strong product differentiation strategy, this is whats your brand stand out best.

Continually evaluate your product and make sure it’s high quality and works as intended, without any glitches or bugs. Depending on the good or service you offer, consider testing it out with a UX team, offering a Beta version before launch or sending out a sample to family and friends before large-scale production.

Of course, mistakes happen. But make sure that they’re rare, and that when they do occur, you have a strong customer service team to sustain trust in your brand.

Applying brand marketing to your business

Think about how you can apply these brand marketing practices to your own company. How can you create marketing content that reflects your company’s personality, values and aspirations? What can you do to prove your commitment to high-quality products and stellar customer service? How can you tie your brand into big-picture values that make consumers care?

5 examples of brand marketing done right

Take inspiration from top companies like these to build your own brand marketing strategy. When you create compelling campaigns that communicate your brand identity and resonate with your audience, you’ll be well on your way to shaping a successful brand.

01. Zappos

Thanks to effective brand marketing, the Zappos brand has become well-loved for its trustworthiness and customer service. The company has crafted an image that centers strongly around its vision statement: “To inspire the world by showing it’s possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to customers, as well as employees, vendors, shareholders and the community, in a long-term, sustainable way.”

They’ve made this the core of their marketing campaigns. Their “Keep What You Love” commercial, for instance, emphasizes an effortless shopping experience and a generous return policy. They also have a history of surprising shoppers to let them know how much they’re valued—whether that’s by sending flowers to a customer or overnighting a free pair of shoes to a best man at a wedding. In doing so, they haven’t just established a great brand identity; they’ve also built their reputation by going above and beyond on their promises.

Brand Marketing—Zappos example

02. Colgate

Oral care brand Colgate is committed to being a “caring, innovative growth company that is reimagining a healthier future for all people, their pets, and the planet.” As a leading global brand, people all around the world trust them to keep their teeth clean.

How did Colgate gain this trust? Its brand marketing strategy involved educating their audience about oral health. Using a technique called inbound marketing, the company draws in people with a blog rather than pushing their product. The Colgate blog shares important information about dental hygiene, making it a go-to online resource for consumers. As a result, the brand simultaneously positions itself as an authority in the field while showing customers they care about their health.

Brand Marketing—Colgate Example

03. Tesla

Tesla, best known for its high-end electric cars, promotes its brand loyalty by honing in on its purpose. The company’s mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” By tying the brand to a greater cause, they give people a compelling reason to engage with the brand.

For that reason, they’ve been hugely successful with word of mouth marketing and referral programs. They get people to believe in the brand and its mission, give customers great experiences, and then encourage those customers to share their brand love and belief in the cause with the people around them.

Brand Marketing—Tesla Example

04. Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle company Harley-Davidson has a strong brand marketing strategy that focuses largely on brand personality. Their campaigns have built a community of dedicated customers who believe in freedom, travel and exploration. They reinforce their brand personality and keep their community engaged with special events and social media posts that emphasize travel and adventure.

Read more about event marketing, and find out how to promote an event in 9 actionable steps.

Brand Marketing—Harley-Davidson Example

05. Trader Joe’s

Most people see grocery stores as places of necessity rather than leisure. Trader Joe’s element of fun, however, has drawn a dedicated customer base.

They position themselves as a “national chain of neighborhood grocery stores,” a place where smiling staff members wear whimsical Hawaiian shirts and creative, one-of-a-kind treats line the shelves. The intentionally quirky company fills their magazine the Fearless Flyer, with banter and jokes. Customers love them for their free samples and comparatively low prices, which compels people to drop in for a taste and spread the word.

Brand Marketing—Trader Joes Example

Learn more about other types of marketing, including affiliate marketing, mobile marketing and others.

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