The path to building a brand has changed dramatically in the last several years. Brands can be built faster, cheaper and bigger than ever before. And in many cases, well-established CPGs are rapidly losing share to smaller, niche brands.
Here’s why: It’s never been easier to bring a brand to market. To generate awareness, digital and social media provide the means to get new products in front of customers quickly and easily.
The path to market of yesteryear typically involved an established CPG company inventing a new product, scaling production and layering an enormous marketing engine on top to drive demand. Demand was expensive but somewhat predictable. However, the barrier to entry was high for new companies. However, in today’s environment, there are several varied paths to success. Anastasia Beverly Hills started with a single retail brow bar and grew into a beauty empire.
Brand ambitions are changing, and manufacturers must adjust to stay relevant. Brand success used to be measured in revenue and distribution, with the ultimate goal to create a billion-dollar brand. Now, brands only need to be big in the eyes of the target consumer. What’s more, an ambition of a just-starting-out brand might not be to create a billion-dollar brand. Instead, one might aspire to build a $100M brand and address a specific market.
In today’s digital landscape, brands can grow from an audience of zero to hundreds of thousands almost instantly. Social media has revamped the way brands introduce and interact with consumers. The ability to connect their products with the right consumers via digital advertising, social media and influencers means that the sky’s the limit.
In addition, it’s becoming more common for product launches to follow social media success. For example, Huda Beauty’s owner, Huda Kattan, who currently boasts 48.5M Instagram followers, started as a popular beauty Instagrammer with tutorials and product recommendations. Later, she launched her own beauty line with a ready consumer base.
However, brands should beware of chasing the shiny object. It’s important to evaluate the right place, right time when considering taking on social media handles, direct-to-consumer websites and livestreaming all at once. An active social handle may not be as successful for a commodity brand, for example.
Similarly, it’s crucial for brands to understand the difference between a social and a digital presence. While a social presence alludes to being active on social media, a digital presence entails a larger online presence in the form of having a website, being on multiple platforms and/or being active on social media.
Understanding the customer has always been a critical piece of the puzzle to business success. Smart brands are mining the content that’s available to them in the form of social media conversations and customer reviews and using it to augment their product launches.
While the power previously sat with a few small organizations and marketers, this increased brand accountability represents a major power shift to consumers. There have never been more brands than there are today, and consumers have unlimited options. Brands are all around us and take many forms, like retailers, service providers and even delivery companies.
Now more than ever, the consumer is the one holding the power above the head of the brand. Customer loyalty is fleeting compared to brand interaction in years past. While there will always be brands that customers aspire to have, the product they’re aspiring to have can change instantly. The power lies in the hands of the customer, and it’s up to the brand to keep pace.
Brand positioning is a strategic approach to bringing your brand to the market and connecting with audiences. Effective brand positioning is described as one that’s “perceived as favorable, different, and credible in consumers’ minds.” In the positioning process, digital marketing companies focus on the following things:
Discovery: In this step, your marketing agency will identify the opportunities with the most potential. They’ll conduct interviews, market research, and focus groups to uncover your strengths, find where your brand is currently at, and fill in current strategy gaps.
Positioning: Through collaborative meetings and an individualized analysis, marketing companies deep dive and define your brand’s personality and attributes. This phase includes trend research, customer and competitor profiling, and market analysis.
Development: After defining the position, it’s time to translate strategy into action. This is where other teams in the agency—namely design, content, and development—come together and develop creative assets that reflect your new brand identity.
Launch: This step happens when your brand’s foundation is ready to enter (or re-enter) the market.
Naming and identity
What’s in a name? For a brand, it’s everything. And more than 500,000 brands worldwide are all pushing to stand out and be a household name to their customers.
Naming your brand is a crucial part of the positioning process and is equal part art and science. Digital marketing companies begin the naming process with market research, insights, and analysis. Then, look at the work done in the initial positioning phase and develop a unique and strategic name. This process often also includes developing a visual brand identity—like a logo, icons, or even a full brand book—to complement the new brand name.
Positioning your brand for social media is the next step in this foundational process. Once you’ve got the other piece of the puzzle fitting together nicely, this next step will translate your brand tone, positioning, and goals onto the ephemeral (and often cutthroat) world of social. A social media positioning strategy will usually include competitor research, messaging and tone mapping, recommendations, and strategies goals and KPIs.
Positioning your brand is like laying the foundation on a house. No one will see most of the materials here, but they will make sure the rest of the house is durable enough to weather any storm. Of the brand-building methods that digital marketing companies use, positioning is arguably the most important. Within the positioning tool kit are brand positioning, naming and identity, and social media positioning, which build the foundation for a successful brand.
The second technique is all about brand storytelling. Going back to the house analogy, your foundation is solid, and you have the messaging with which to frame your brand. But the walls are blank and it’s time to add splashes of color and accent pieces. In other words, the content that brings your brand story to life. Digital marketing companies approach this step in several ways, but the overarching goal is to tell your story well through all touchpoints—from the product to the customer service experience.
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