Think about your favorite brand. What makes it stand out compared to all of the others? Now, think about your product or service. How do you compare with your favorite brand?
You might have a few ideas (or you might be stuck, which is totally fine)! Companies spend tons of time and money “defining their brand” or “boosting their brand image,” but what are they really trying to accomplish?
Building a strong brand isn’t as elusive as you might think. Strong brands have high perceived value, which includes much more than quality products or services (although that’s a big part of it). People buy the feeling that they get when they interact with you.
Good news: You can foster these positive feelings and interactions. It just takes a little work.
What is branding?
Interacting with a brand is similar to interacting with a person. Your friend might decide to dye their hair or revamp their wardrobe, but you'll still recognize them. Even if their appearance changes from blonde to brunette, their mannerisms and personality don't.
Think of branding the same way; it goes much deeper than a well-designed billboard or website. True branding encompasses the values and personality of your company — your brand DNA. Your logo or color scheme might change over time, but your core values must stay consistent.
These core values are integral. As market segments grow and businesses shift to a predominantly digital landscape, your audience's attention is hard to get. Today, brands speak up. They contribute to local and national causes, and they act as the glue which binds communities together. In order to make your brand stick, you need truly connect with your audience. That connection creates a memorable brand.
There’s a lot of misinformation on this topic, but we’re here to help! In today’s post, we’re debunking five of the most common myths about branding. So, let’s dive in.
Myth #1: You should be broad to attract as many people as possible.
If you want to grow your audience, then you should cast a super broad net, right? Au contraire. It’s much better to niche down. In fact, choosing a specific audience allows you to be much more intentional about your messaging and better serve your customers.
People have different goals and emotional responses, so your products or services won't meet everyone’s needs. And that's perfectly OK! Once you accept that you can't be the right solution for everyone, you become the perfect solution for the right people. Segmenting your audience offers the opportunity to serve the needs that aren’t being met by other brands. It gives you a competitive advantage.
Instead of joining hundreds of other brands and fighting to be noticed, tap into a smaller market segment and tailor your products or services. That automatically differentiates your brand. This laser focus allows you to build relationships with people who are really going to benefit from your business, which maximizes your ROI.
Truth: Segmenting your audience develops a stronger brand identity and makes it easier to market and sell to the right people.
Myth #2: Your logo is your brand.
Although the colors and symbols that you use are what your audience sees, they’re just the visual representations. Sure, keeping the colors and fonts that your business uses consistent helps improve brand recognition, but it isn’t the only factor in creating a rave-worthy brand.
Forbes reminds us that your brand is also “the language that describes you; what you look like, smell like, sound like; what you’re not and never want to become; and the narrative that strings it all together.” The values you represent and the experiences your customers have with your company are the factors that truly define your brand and influence your position in the market.
Think about your platform: What does your target audience value? And what does your brand stand for? When the answer to these two questions align, your brand stands out amid the masses and attracts your ideal customers.
Truth: The biggest and most successful brands create a community of followers who become their raving fans; it’s much more than a logo.
Myth #3: Social media is important, so you should be on ALL channels.
Once upon a time, people debated over whether or not it’s worth being on social media at all. Today, 92% of marketers admit that social media has helped increase exposure, which proves its value for your brand.
There are so many social networking sites that it’s impossible to gain a consistent presence and live up to each one’s best practices when you’re building your brand. You’d be much better off focusing on the sites that get you the most traffic.
So, how do you determine the best sites for your business? Business News Daily salys that "Social media provides targeting capability, as well as reach and scale, at a lower cost than almost all other marketing channels. People are on social media all day, every day – brands must go where the people are."
This is where a deep audience understanding comes into play. Utilize social listening skills by monitoring how your target audience interacts with different brands on social media. This insight generates ideas for how your brand might be able to engage with them in a valuable way.
Here’s a quick lowdown of the most popular social media platforms.
Facebook: The largest social media site boasts over 2 billion monthly active users from ages 25-54, so it’s a great place to show the human side of your business with a variety of people. Not to mention, Facebook is a powerful advertising platform that you can custom target.
Instagram: This platform is visual by nature, so if your brand can show off via photography or quick videos, it’s an ideal location to meet nearly half a billion users.
Twitter: Twitter is great for quick, top-of-mind information with a slightly younger crowd than Facebook. For quippy content or current event conversations, Twitter should be your social channel of choice.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is more of a B2B business site for building thought leadership and brand authority.
Pinterest: Women dominate this website, and photography reigns supreme. If you’re hoping to drive sales, take note, over 90% of users plan purchases using Pinterest.
So, how are big companies using these platforms? Amazon, the B2C eCommerce behemoth, has been entering the B2B world. In order to be seen as more than an online store, they’ve been utilizing their LinkedIn account to amplify internal voices and increase engagement. One of their campaigns, #InsideAmazon, showcases their employees and helps create transparency without feeling promotional.
LinkedIn unites the B2B world, and Instagram is perfect for travel and food industries. Califia Farms does a fantastic job showcasing their award-winning bottling and portraying a natural, active, healthy lifestyle that connects with their buyers.
Truth: Each social media platform has unique strengths and user bases. You should conduct audience research and invest time establishing a presence on one or two social media platforms where you’re most likely to reach your target audience.
Myth #4: Your brand should stay consistent.
This myth is a little tough to unpack. It’s important to establish a consistent brand image for recognition. However, your company needs to evolve with the marketplace, and most importantly, your customers. Having a great reputation is an excellent foundation, but you can’t ignore the fact that world is constantly changing — the brands that refuse to adapt get left behind. We're going to look at a few examples.
Let’s talk about Sherwin-Williams. Tony Piloseno is a former employee who was fired for publishing videos of mixing paint on his TikTok channel, @tonesterpaints, which currently has over 1.5 million followers. Piloseno noticed that his paint mixing videos were incredibly popular; he saw an opportunity to leverage his followers and put together a pitch deck to present to the marketing department. Not only was Piloseno met with refusal to review the deck, he was later fired for “gross misconduct.” You can read the full story here.
Piloseno's follower base sided with him and Sherwin-Williams has since been under fire in the media, criticized for their refusal to recognize an incredible digital marketing opportunity. It’s astounding that they punished the free advertising — and alienated 1.5 million people.
It was an incredibly short sighted, potentially detrimental, business move — especially since millennials are the generation with the most purchasing power. Close to 85% of this generation (filled with homeowners and DIYers) say it’s important that the companies they buy from share their values. Sherwin-Williams displayed just the opposite.
By contrast, Netflix pushed Blockbuster to bankruptcy in 2010 by offering a more convenient option — mailing DVDs. What's more impressive about Netflix is that they didn't allow another service to overcome them. As their audience grew even busier, Netflix adapted and created a streaming service, accommodating their target buyers and adapting to the market.
Truth: Your brand should work hard to stay relevant, embrace new trends, and innovate.
Myth #5: Good branding is expensive.
Excellent branding doesn’t require conducting multimillion-dollar campaigns. It means taking the time to carefully curate an overall buying experience that meets your target audience’s needs — but most importantly, one that affirms their values.
Chewy, an eCommerce pet store, has a reputation for superior customer service. Their responses are timely, they’ve been known to send handwritten cards to owners, and they refund dog food purchases for families who have lost their pets. Instead of requiring that the food is shipped back, Chewy simply asks that the food is donated to a local animal shelter. This speaks volumes about their actual concern for animals, not just for their bottom line.
After all, people are treating their pets more and more like their own children, an exploding trend called pet humanization. In fact, 90% of dog and cat owners consider their pets “part of the family,” and almost 50% of dog owners admit that they find it harder to leave their pet than their human partners for a week.
Take a look at Chewy’s personal response on this social media post. In addition to the cute animal puns, they actually included the names of the person’s pets. That level of personalization makes their brand stand out amid other pet stores. And it wasn’t a fancy advertising campaign — it was a quick response that expressed shared values.
Truth: Good branding is developed by carefully curating a values-focused approach to customer service across both brick-and-mortar locations and digital marketing.
There you have it, we just debunked five common myths about branding! We love chatting about branding (and digital marketing in general). If you have any questions or are looking to get started with your brand, feel free to drop us a line.