Having a powerful brand is as significant as ever: It continues to be essential for differentiating offerings, spurring action and building loyalty. However, today’s agencies and advertisers cannot merely tackle brand building in the same ways as in the past and expect to succeed. Marketing channels are quickly evolving, and audience behaviours such as multiscreen are becoming the norm.
This digital-first, mobile-first age requires a new mindset. Here are a few tips you can achieve:
Start with a Data-Driven Mindset
Marketers that have built strong digital brands say measuring and iterating are the foundation of success. A long-term test-and-learn mindset is essential because it informs every aspect of successful brand building. This approach entails consistently tracking a broad range of metrics and continually validating measurement approaches. Embracing digital is also valuable because it is inexpensive to try new brand ideas online, and feedback is quick.
Build Your Brand at All Stages
Those that have successfully developed digital brands say that brand-building efforts should span the entire life of the business, with a strong focus from the start and then constant iterations over time. Moreover, the brand-building shouldn’t be thought of as impacting only part of the customer journey; it affects all stages. Brand building throughout the funnel allows for continual opportunities to measure, learn and iterate.
Tackle Branding and Activation Together
The firms we spoke with say that what businesses often overlook is that brand building and activation complement each other in meaningful ways at all levels of maturity. A strong brand can aid in everything from increasing the likelihood of initial purchase to encouraging repeat sales. Given that, firms should not think of “brand” and “performance” marketing as being separate things—campaigns can and should have elements of both.
Use Digital Media to Brand Build
The traditional view on brand building has been that primarily offline media should be utilized. However, digital channels are proving to be highly useful tools for brand building: A study of nine firms’ digital campaigns found Facebook advertising measurably boosted awareness and shifted brand perceptions over six months. Those we spoke with say the keys to successful brand building with online media are to take a multichannel approach, account for mobile behaviour, track performance and encourage repeat exposure.
Invest Long-Term in Brand Building
Successful brand building requires significant spend over a long period of time. Businesses that have built strong digital native brands say they have done so by allocating a large share of the budget to brand marketing, by being patient and by optimizing investment through measurement and iteration. Combining channels can also help maximize the impact of spend: For example, there is a “kicker” effect of 60% higher ROI when adding digital to TV.
Test New Creative Ideas While Remaining Consistent
The firms we spoke with say active brand-building creative is forged from an iterative process that produces freshness and consistency. To strike this balance, it’s necessary to have a high volume of original to test, to concentrate on experimenting with strategic ideas rather than insignificant variations and to keep introducing new brand concepts. Also, using online channels as a low-cost testing ground is an efficient way to determine what works.
Nurture a Test-and-Learn Culture
Finally, it’s impossible to take a modern approach to the brand building if your firm does not have the right people and culture. The firms we spoke with say the keys are to hire staff who are comfortable with data, to encourage employees to view “failures” as valuable opportunities to iterate and to ensure brand expectations are shared across teams. Most importantly, leadership must set the right example by letting insights, not ego, drive brand decisions.
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