When you need to blow your nose, do you ask for a tissue or a Kleenex? When you want a can of soda, do you ask for a cola or a Coke? When you’re looking for a cotton swab, do you ask for a Q-tip? In all of these cases, these brands have become so ubiquitous that their names supplant the generic terms for similar products – they’re literally household names. Known as a proprietary eponym, it is pretty much the greatest triumph a brand can achieve. It results from a combination of three brand attributes: awareness, association, and advocacy.
While not every product can achieve the sort of popularity Coca-Cola maintains, there are ways you can boost recognition of your brand. Ask yourself, “Is my marketing campaign strategy helping to facilitate the brand attributes of awareness, association, and advocacy?”
Branding 101: What Should Your Goals Be?
Our friends at Workfront produce a regular video series featuring CMO, Joe Staples. In one of his recent video blogs, he shares his thoughts on what’s truly important to a CMO in today’s marketing environment. Though he makes many points, one that stuck out to us was his focus on brand attributes, or what he called the three A’s of branding:
- Brand Awareness
- Brand Association
- Brand Advocacy
Let’s take a look at each of these brand attributes in a bit more detail. If you want your branding or that of a client to be successful, you will need to be mindful of these.
1. Brand Awareness
Awareness is the first tenet of branding. Are people aware of your company? One reliable way to build brand awareness is to give your brand a unique personality. If your brand or product is in an industry where humor is acceptable, embrace that. Whether you’re looking for more of a family friendly vibe or want to develop a loyal following, don’t shy away from playing up the humor. Dos Equis conceived their “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign years ago, and it’s still going strong. Coca-Cola, which pursues a slightly different and wider audience, tends to center their campaigns around sharing a Coke and a smile. An outrageous or charming campaign can win fans and customers, and set your brand (or a client’s) apart from competitors.
But campaigns are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to awareness. Digital communication is the most current way to reach the public, and you simply can’t be innovative without embracing it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are among the most popular social network platforms, and this has not gone unnoticed with search engine marketers. If used correctly, these platforms can help build loyal relationships or drive users to corporate websites. Blogs and podcasts are also increasingly popular means of reaching the public.
Using these sorts of social media platforms can showcase your brand, increase your exposure and sales, boost your traffic and search engine rankings, and enhance your brand trustworthiness by creating a strong online presence.
2. Brand Association
Making people aware of your brand is just the beginning; developing a relationship with them is the next brand attribute you should focus your attention. Your brand needs an association with its consumers. Today’s consumers are craving more than just a product or a service. They want relationships and personal, human interactions.
Marketers can’t always control when, where, and how people experience their brand. People may come to a brand through varied sources and mediums, such as searches, reviews, peer recommendations, advertising, and more. Regardless of the mechanism, a brand association is required before you can have a relationship with your customers. If someone hears of your company but doesn’t know what it does, your branding is failing you.
An emotional connection is a key to an enduring customer relationship and a positive association with your brand. If you can meet a consumer’s emotional needs and inspire confidence, pride, and passion for your brand, you can keep them coming back and develop loyalty that you cannot easily buy. But this is only possible through association. When you hear the words Apple, Microsoft, or Coca-Cola, you likely conjure up an image of these organizations in your head. You associate them with something. Awareness is merely knowing what something is; having an association means having an opinion. Accomplish this, and you’re getting somewhere!
3. Brand Advocacy
Once you’ve developed an association, you can turn a consumer into a brand advocate. Brand loyalists will do more for your business than marketing ever will. But how do you do that? Sure, you could throw money at people and compensate them for reviews, but an organic, unbiased review is much more effective. As we said before, most people come to brands through word of mouth and peer suggestion. If people are talking about your brand because they love it, and not just because you asked them to, you’ve won at marketing. Brand advocates will share your brand via social media, word of mouth, and any other means possible because they’re genuinely getting something out of it and want to share it with their friends.
You can transform loyal consumers into brand advocates by making the relationship beneficial for them, and not just for you. Analytics can help you identify who these consumers are; once you’ve found them, make it worth their while. Offer incentives to make them feel appreciated. Make them feel valuable. Make them feel like a part of the team. If they’re already purchasing and love your product, throw some freebies their way. Alternatively, give your advocates an insider look at upcoming campaigns or products. Let them be the first to tell the world about your innovations and reward them with exclusivity.
The more you can share your passion with consumers, the more excited and inspired they’ll be. Think about it: how many people do you know who profess some loyalty to a product or company? Who among us doesn’t have a die-hard Apple fanatic (or Microsoft disciple) in our close circle of friends?
It Isn’t Enough to Be Known – Be Loved
Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. It’s built on personalization, fostering an emotional experience for consumers, and developing authentic, long-term relationships. In today’s consumer culture, good or bad, people tend to have relationships with brands as much as they do other people. We all proudly display logos on our clothing and cars, and will happily argue over which company is better at making Product X.
Knowing this can give your organization (or your client) a leg up on competitors when building clientele. Your investment in your brand can grow your audience and win you loyalty that can’t be bought. Remember, when it comes to branding, association and advocacy are as important as awareness.
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