We’ve covered branding a lot here at Business Review Australia. Small-to-medium enterprises make up a wide margin of business in Australia; and with smaller companies come smaller staff sizes. As the owner, president or CEO of your SME, there’s a good chance you are in charge of (or at least have a big say in) the marketing practices of your business. Even if you are part of the management level or higher at a big company, you probably have some affect on how your brand is perceived.
That’s why this month we’re turning our efforts to continuous branding. What happens after you have established your company culture and your brand, and you have a fairly comprehensive marketing plan set up? To continue to be successful, efforts must continue daily in branding. Every social media post, customer interaction or advertising effort your company makes contributes to continuous branding. In short, everything you do as a company is an important part of your brand experience.
Social Media And Your Brand
Evaluate your own business and brand strategy: have you considered that everything your company does—both internally and externally—is an important part of both your brand and product experience? With heads turned to social media all hours of the day, you’re no longer just selling your product or service—you’re selling your brand, company culture and an experience for your customers, and every word and image you put out there combines into a unique picture of your company.
To continue to be successful in this landscape, your business must continually be evaluating its marketing efforts. According to an article published by BrandLogik, most companies only use their brand at a fraction of its full power. The market is crowded these days. There are several other people and companies offering similar products and services; what about your brand will set you apart from the crowd and noise?
Your brand experience. This makes your social media efforts and your website just as important as the product or service your company offers.
‘Social media in service of a product experience is not just media—it’s the experience of the product itself,’ says Forrester analyst James McQuivey in his book Digital Disruption, Unleashing The Next Wave Of Innovation.
Companies willing to practice continuous improvement in their marketing and branding will see their brand evolve over time to showcase and highlight the product or service. Specifically, startups and companies that have a lean structure benefit from the evolution process of continuous branding. By utilising your brand’s power at full capacity instead of 20 or 30 percent, marketing costs can go down, saving smaller or new companies time, energy and money.
Branding Through Product Or Service Innovation
The natural process at any company is to improve a product or service over time. Creativity and innovation combine in product evolution, which then can supplement the evolution of a brand’s marketing plan.
Let’s take a look at one of the most well-known brands in the world: Apple. The first iPhone was truly a radical product innovation. Since then, several augmentations have been made to improve the product. Once its big innovation was established, Apple has to only tweak its product from there. As such, each subsequent iPhone has been an improvement, both in hardware and software, but not quite the game changer the first mobile was.
Continuous branding is necessary for product augmentation and vice versa, and product innovation is a great example of the necessity of continuous branding. Who would buy a new and improved iPhone if Apple’s marketers didn’t also update their brand experience? Between some versions of the iPhone (the 5 and 5c for example), the improvements weren’t necessarily industry-changing. But Apple stores worldwide still had customers camping out and lining up around the block for a slice of the slightly different Apple pie.
For your business, establishing a strong, detailed marketing plan from the get-go will be a guiding force in subsequent marketing ventures in the future. Each time your marketing strategy augments, it should build on the foundation already put in place. Whether these branding efforts occur in line with an actual product or service improvements and new features or just because your brand needs a boost, that strong marketing base plan is a great place to start.
Keeping Your Promise To The Customer
Companies are kept in business by trust: customers trust the business to provide a reliable quality product or service. Your brand then, is your promise to your customer that the company will continue to provide the reliable product or service for the foreseeable future.
Providing this quality product or service is the obvious way a company builds and maintains that trust. But marketers have to build the brand in such a way that it appears trustworthy from its foundation and remains trustworthy through the life of the company.
As your marketing and branding strategy changes and innovates, keeping your company’s promise to its customers should be the overall priority. Continuous branding requires a keen eye for your brand’s potential and an understanding of augmentation over time. This promise from the company must be held central to marketing’s ideals when drafting new plans and strategies to support your growing and ever-evolving brand.