It’s not exactly news to say that media has changed dramatically over the past few decades. The way we consume news and entertainment, shop, and communicate looks nothing like it did when newspapers and nightly broadcasts ruled the world.
Branding – which can be loosely defined as the concept of actively shaping your brand. It’s what connects your company’s products to its mission, and forges a relationship with your customers who want to be associated with what your business’s “personality” is all about.
It’s an imperfect science that’s always evolving, but the history of branding is fascinating for marketers to review. I’ll go over 5 ways it’s changed over the years.
1. Engaging in a Dialogue Is Now a Necessity
Advertising used to be a one way street. Brands put out their message, and audiences listened. Aside from the small percentage of people who took the time to get in touch via the customer service number (which sounds daunting), there was no way to respond.
Social media has created a two-way street of communication that gives customers a way to voice their opinions in a manner which is visible to the rest of a brand’s audience. There’s a real risk for businesses who don’t show they’re taking customer feedback seriously, but there’s a major upside the situation: you get to show off your personality!
2. It’s Dynamic
Yes, there have always been creative considerations that can make a brand’s marketing material look dated. But the “new” has never looked like the “old” in such a short period of time. Businesses who make their revenue form B2C sales (it’s not quite as important for companies with a B2B plan) must prove that they’re not just cool, but current.
Websites need constant maintenance, brand guidelines need to be reviewed annually, and you’ve got to keep a close eye on your competitors to make sure they aren’t pulling ahead with their strategy. The best way to make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve is to follow the big brands in your industry. Although you might not have the same resources at your disposal, you can use what they’re doing as inspiration to create your own strategy, even if it’s on a smaller scale.
For those business owners who feel like they don’t have the time to stay up on the latest digital media marketing trends, hiring an agency to do it for you can be a worthwhile investment. It’s not cheap, but it’s better than having an advertising strategy that hurts your image.
3. Social Issues Matter
In this context, recognize that the term “social issues” does not necessarily mean anything overtly political – though at times it can feel challenging to make the distinction. Unless your audience is almost exclusively on one side of the aisle, it’s probably best to steer away from a controversial opinion. “But aren’t social issues inherently controversial,” you ask? Not exactly.
For example, running a holiday food or coat drive that benefits the homeless population in your area is not likely to receive any pushback. Similarly, making small improvements to reduce your company’s carbon footprint (think recycling, etc.) should also be met with support from your audience.
In today’s marketplace, it’s not enough for businesses to simply make a good product at an affordable price. Modern consumers care about the impact their purchasing decisions have on their communities, and are much more likely to align themselves with your brand if you prove that you care about something more than just your bottom line.
4. Choosing the Right Platforms is Crucial
It’s a common misconception in the marketing industry to think that your business needs to have a presence on every social network and utilize every Google product available. The reality is that if your brand doesn’t “fit” with a certain platform, don’t try to force it.
Facebook, for example, is a safe bet for nearly every type of business. You’ll need a place where customers can find your business and interact, and given the wide range of demographic participation on this particular platform, a large percentage of your audience will have an active profile. When it comes to a more “niche” social media site, like LinkedIn for example, you’ll want to make sure your message is appropriate for the platform. Here’s a general guide to help you out (yes, there are other options, but these are the most important to focus on at this time):
- Facebook: As mentioned, every business should have an active presence. Posting once a week and keeping updated profile and cover images lets your customers know they have a place to get in touch.
- Instagram: Businesses that have a visual appeal – for example, clothing brands, restaurants, and brands that sell experiences – can benefit from a presence on Instagram.
- LinkedIn: If your business relies on a B2B model, or you’re looking to recruit new talent, this is a great place to do it.
- TikTok: For those brands that are looking to reach a younger audience, TikTok is an absolute must! Just be sure that your creative is optimized for the platform in order to be looked upon favorably by the all-important algorithm.
- Twitter: Not to generalize, but people typically aren’t looking to buy new products when they browse Twitter. If you’re company is information-based, and needs to get updates out on a regular basis, this is a good option to use.
- Pinterest: The dark horse of the bunch – Pinterest has established is actually more popular than you’d think. Home décor, boutique clothing, and other aesthetics-focused brands can build their following (and increase sales, of course) by utilizing this platform.
Running a business means staying on top of products, finances, and customer service. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With all of these responsibilities to worry about, it’s understandable that something like branding can fall through the cracks. That’s where we come in.
When we work with your business to create a brand strategy that appeals to your primary audience, we do it with the future of your business in mind. If you need a partner to help spread the word about your company, get in touch today to add a partner to your marketing team.