Top Branding Blog Posts

Developing a brand is an important part of reaching an audience. Your brand is how they know who you are. It defines you in the consumers’ eyes.

And that’s why we devote a good deal of time to branding on the blog. We went back and found the eight most-read posts on branding over the last few years. Here they are:

  1. What Your Price Says About Your Brand
  2. Can You Measure Brand Marketing?
  3. The End of Brand Loyalty
  4. Unique Value Proposition – a Refresher
  5. Marketing Funnel – Awareness
  6. What Promise Are You Keeping?
  7. Leveraging a Name to Help Branding
  8. Twitter and the Art of Brand Building

Unique Value Proposition – a Refresher

A Unique Value Proposition (UVP), sometimes referred to as a unique selling proposition (USP), is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.

Let’s break that down piece by piece, because many marketers and brands get this critical messaging component wrong.

Clear Statement

Firstly, we establish that the statement must be clear. This is because it is a statement you should use to attract customers. It must be written and expressed in a way that is immediately understandable. No confusing business jargon. This is not a mission statement.

Benefit of Your Offer

Second, the unique value proposition speaks directly to the benefit(s) of your product or service. Benefits are not features. The benefit answers the why question – as in, “why should I, the consumer, care?”

How You Solve your Customers’ Needs

If the benefit tells your customers what you do, this is where you address more specifically how you do it. (Example: We make insurance cheaper by doing everything online. In that example, ‘making insurance cheaper’ is the what, and ‘by doing everything online’ is the how.)

What Distinguishes You from the Competition

This last part is where the “Unique” comes in. This answers the question, “why should I choose you over your competitors?” Are you cheaper, quicker, friendlier, simpler? What makes your offer unique?

Unique value propositions are important because they force you to distill your marketing message down into its simpler form. It’s a clear definition of what you offer and why people should purchase from you.

For more help creating your unique value proposition, there are resources here and here.

And make sure you check out these great examples of brands with perfectly simple unique value propositions.

What Your Price Says About Your Brand

When you think of some of the most popular/trusted/like consumer brands in the US today, you might think of Budweiser, Coke, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, etc.

Some brands are closely linked to price, rather intentionally. To illustrate two of the extremes, let’s use Walmart on the low end and Apple on the high end.

People who know Walmart know they stand for everyday low prices. Their brand is identified with low prices. And for them, that’s a good thing, because it is a part of what makes them so successful. Customers shop at Walmart because they can afford to (in addition to it being convenient).

At the other end of the spectrum we have Apple, who has always taken special care of their brand’s reputation. They offer high-quality, good looking, intuitive technology products. And because of their brand, and the loyalty of most customers, they can command a higher price.

Unlike Walmart, Apple will never specifically tout their higher prices as a part of the marketing. But consumers know that the higher prices they charge are worth it because the brand is so powerful.

Price and brand will always be linked in the minds of consumers. Which makes it hard for companies to change prices or offer new product lines outside of their traditional markets.

It would be difficult for Walmart to suddenly try a higher-price, higher-value strategy. Likewise it wouldn’t make sense for Apple to start slashing prices and try to compete with Dell in the computer market.

Savvy marketers must learn how the pricing strategy they employ sets the stage for how consumers view their brand.

How to Cultivate a Customer Community

Many successful companies have figured out how to put their customers at the top of their priority list. And although almost any company will tell you that’s the case with them, most of them are lying.

I’m talking about companies like Harley-Davidson, who recognized a number of years ago that they needed a new strategy. They had hordes of die-hard fans, customers who would forever be loyal to the brand. But the company was not being loyal to them.

A strategic shift put customers front and center, creating a worldwide community around the brand that helped them turn the business around.

Not all brands are Harley-Davidson, but that doesn’t mean the customer community can’t work for you. Cultivating a brand-enhancing community like Harley-Davidson can be the ticket to increased loyalty, word of mouth marketing, goodwill, press coverage, and more.

To do it requires a fundamental shift in the way your business operates – from who makes decisions and how, to the company organization, technologies, processes, etc. Putting the company first, in practice, is about making them the stars.

First, figure out who your biggest fans are. And find out why they love you. Your goal is to make them happier, and use the tools and products you have that make them happy to grow their ranks.

You can do this with online communities, special offers and exclusive content, meetings and events. You become their advocates, as much as they become yours. Give them the tools to connect with one another and get more out of your offerings.

When you thrill your fans, you turn them into champions for your brand. And when you connect them with one another, you create a movement that can redefine your business.

Do you have what it takes to make this strategic shift?

Marketing Funnel – Part 2

The marketing funnel - sometimes called the sales funnel, the purchase funnel, or the buyer’s journey, - is a fundamental concept in marketing for understanding the step by step process that consumers go through to make a purchasing decision.

Each week we will focus on one segment of the funnel and go into more detail. Last week we discussed the target audience at the top of the funnel.

This week’s segment: Awareness

For many people, this is the top ring of the funnel, ignoring the universe at large or the target market in general as something that exists above and beyond the funnel. Fair enough. I like to include it in order to recognize that there is a stage before awareness.

Awareness is the stage that comes next, when someone for the first time learns about your brand. Taking the term literally, they first become aware of the fact that your company exists.

They don’t yet know much about what you do. They don’t know if they are interested in what you do. They don’t know whether or not you can solve their problem or fill a need. They have simply heard of you.

You get prospects from the market at large into the awareness bucket through a wide variety of different efforts. It might be traditional mass marketing, such as print ads, outdoor, TV or radio. It might be a banner campaign on major consumer or industry websites. It might be social media or content marketing, anything that gets your brand in front of your target audience and introduces them to who you are.

The goal, once the prospect is aware, is to get them to the next stage – Interest. In order to do that, you must give them a reason to investigate further. Showcase your value statements or calls to action and get people to take that next step.

Stay tuned next week for another edition of the Marketing Funnel series.