You know who you are, and what your brand represents. You’ve spent years dreaming it, building it, and living it. But unless you communicate it – clearly and consistently – others will do it for you. It may seem unfair, but it’s the reality of the modern world: absent a definition, others will define you.
This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for smaller brands with limited marketing dollars. It can feel like the business or the products SHOULD speak for themselves, but in today’s competitive and cluttered marketing space, it’s all too easy to get lost in the shuffle – or worse, villainized by the assumptions of a small but vocal group of consumers.
The best way to get ahead of it? Lay it all out there. It’s much easier to define, rather than defend your brand.
Today’s consumers are savvy. They can’t be wooed with just a low price or a clever ad. With access to the internet, literally at their fingertips – even from inside a store – consumers are seeking the story behind the story of the brands they choose to support. Where is your product made? How do you make it? Why are you in this business in the first place?
While in the past marketing communications may have focused on the value of a product or service – today, smart marketers focus on the values – the beliefs upon which a brand is built; not just how long something will last or what it costs, but why it was created in the first place, and how it contributes to a better world.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.” — Simon Senek
Consumers seeking this kind of information create both an opportunity and a challenge for smaller companies. On the bright side, consumers’ emerging affinity for “authentic” brands has been a great equalizer for smaller upstarts, and this trend has given them an avenue to compete with better-funded legacy brands. But it can also be a challenge. Smaller companies with lesser budgets often struggle to communicate their story clearly and consistently, and that gap can force consumers to come to their own (sometimes undesirable) conclusions.
So, what can smaller companies do to ensure they’re defining their brand in the eyes of consumers? There are two critical steps that companies must take to ensure their brand remains clearly defined.
Agree on a brand promise and positioning
This might seem obvious, but it’s important that company leaders and employees all agree on and understand the brand promise and positioning. While it may seem like a given, you’d be surprised at how many leadership teams discover they aren’t completely aligned on positioning. Even more common is for leadership teams to be in alignment, but employees to remain in the dark. In order to clearly and consistently communicate a brand promise, it is absolutely imperative that frontline, customer-facing employees understand and are in alignment with the brand promise. Without this alignment, it’s impossible to communicate consistently to customers.
Communicate the brand promise at every touchpoint
Broadcast television is expensive. That’s a reality. But you don’t need a Fortune 500 marketing budget to communicate your message to YOUR audience. Your audience is already touching your brand over and over again – from social media to websites to on-hold messages, product packaging, and in-store experiences. Every one of these touchpoints is an opportunity to communicate and remind consumers of your brand promise and positioning.
If your product is premium, does your packaging match? Does it look and feel like every detail was thought through when you open it? Does it match your brand personality? Is it luxurious or of high quality? If your promise is convenience, does your on-hold message offer an option to get a call back? If your promise is customization, are you responding to social media messages often and individually? None of these adjustments require monumental marketing dollars – just a little elbow grease, innovation, and commitment to living your brand inside and out.
When it comes to marketing, the most compelling message is always the truth. You just have to make sure you speak it out loud and clear.
Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine.
At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.
With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.