The Five-Step Branding Cycle
Branding is an essential aspect of marketing. It establishes why and how you are different from other companies. It creates an allure for your product or service that compels your customers to buy from you – often through the use of marketing content.
Great brands are memorable, but they only got that way by focusing on the basics of branding. Regardless of what a brand does to establish its place in the market, there are five fundamental actions a brand must perform consistently and persistently across content development and other branding activities to make sure they’re staying relevant to their audience.
Know your customer
Every aspect of marketing begins with knowing your customer, which means identifying your niche and knowing everything you can about the people who make up that niche. It means knowing who they are, what matters most to them, where you can find them, how to get their attention and when is the best time to put your message in front of them.
To learn these things, you must engage with your customers over and over to truly understand them (including talking directly to them). What you know about your customer must be continually updated, so don’t be deceived into thinking this is a one-time event. However, once you really know your customers, not only is it easier to acquire new ones, it is also easier to keep the ones you have.
Know your “why”
Your “why” is your purpose for being in business. From your customers’ perspective, your purpose is not the product or service you provide, nor is it how you conduct business or what values guide your organization. From the customer’s perspective, your purpose must be to resolve some fundamental discomfort they are experiencing.
Your “why” is the foundation of your brand messaging and must resonate with your customer segment in a fundamental way. Look to loved and cherished brands like Apple and Starbucks as examples: they both have plenty of competitors, but they also stand head and shoulders above their competitors.
Many people will argue that Apple’s products are not worth the price people pay. Other people will say the same about Starbucks’ coffee–that it really isn’t that good. And yet, these brands continue to prosper and grow because they know their customers intimately and make it their job to deliver what matters most to their customer. This is their “why.”
When you know your customers so well that you know what matters most to them, you will be close to knowing your “why.”
Make a promise
Customers are not really that interested in your product or service alone. They are not inherently enthralled in your story unless they are part of that story in some way. This means you must show them how you can help them be the hero in their own story.
Customers are most interested in themselves and whether or not you can provide an experience they are willing to pay for at a price they deem reasonable. Memorable branding is promising to deliver an experience that is so compelling and so alluring that your customers cannot ignore it. Promise the right experience, and your brand will be irresistible.
Make sure you can deliver the experience
But, before you make the promise, make sure you can deliver the experience you have promised. People don’t like to be misled and they will never forget if they believe they have been deceived.
Stay on track
There are two aspects to staying on track.
The first is being consistent. Consistency is the hallmark behavior of a brand. Your customers want you to be predictable in your messaging and predictable in your capacity to deliver the experiences they expect from you–the experiences you have promised them.
The second aspect of staying on track is to measure and track what is working and what is not. This will take you back to the first item on this list and help you achieve a better understanding of your customer. A better understanding of your customer will help you find better ways to articulate your “why” and help you refine the experiences you promise to your customers. Just make sure you deliver. And stay on track.
Once this branding cycle is put in place, it can be applied to your web presence, your content strategy, and your social media plan. And remember: it’s a cycle, not a one-time activity. Always be ready to rinse and repeat so you can stay up to date who your customer is and how your brand can best serve them.