Branding represents a business' attempt to associate their product or service with an easily relatable word or phrase. It raises the customer's awareness of the product and by extension the company. This is something we've known for ages. But how exactly does branding your content influence your customers' final decisions on buying?
Considering the amount of work and money we funnel into branding, we should at least have a semblance of certainty that branding actually influences the buyers' decisions.
How Does Branding Work?
Previous studies into marketing have already proven that customers tend to react positively to packaging and names that they already know. This solidifies our understanding of branding as influencing the consumer decision. But what exactly constitutes branding? The idea of a brand is one that the consumer has in his or her head. The consumer defines the brand and what it stands for. As the marketer, what you need to do is to give the consumer something to attach the thought of the brand to.
How Consumers Interpret a Brand
Much research has gone into understanding the mind of the consumer. Sadly, because of the disparate elements that make up the buying public, there is no current way that we can peer into the depths of the average buyer's mind with any great amount of certainty. However, we have determined that buyers experience certain things that make up their personal definition of the brand itself. These are:
- Conceptualization of the brand, linking a company or product to a positive word or phrase that best describes it
- Logical and emotional reinforcement of the conceptualization through advertising
- Formulation of the idea of a brand, and tying that back to the physical representations of this brand
- Conclusions based on the idea of the brand (which may or may not actually express the physical reality of the brand)
One thing that all four of these things have in common is that they deal solely with the consumers' thoughts. This means that the final idea of the brand in the consumers' head may not really reflect the brand, but rather reflect how the consumer perceives the brand. At the end of the day, your job as a marketer is to give the user positive experiences about the brand in an attempt to link the brand name to a pleasing experience.
Building a Brand Experience
Before we can truly influence a consumer to place their confidence in our brand, we must first give them an idea of the experience behind the brand. This is where our content comes in. Developing marketing content around a brand requires you to consider how best to translate experiences to the consumer. As we have already said, your aim should be to relate positive experiences to the potential buyers so that they make up their mind that your brand is what they would choose over others.
Communicating Brand to Audience: 5 Methods
Content marketing when linked to a brand can be a powerful motivator, especially for undecided customers. It comes down to how well and effectively you influence the consumers' thoughts about your particular brand. Previous studies have determined that a brand experience can be communicated to the audience in five different ways. These are:
- Sense: This medium utilizes the sensory aesthetics of the brand and communicates it to the buyer. It makes the brand attractive. By giving the user a brand that draws them in, you increase the buyer's desire for the product.
- Feel: This reflects on how the brand makes the user feel. This emotional response can be a powerful motivator for purchase. Emotional response is probably one of the most powerful reflex responses human beings can feel.
- Think: The buyer's sense of imagination and consideration are stimulated with this type of communication. You can relate the brand to the happy moments in life and let the reader reflect on what those moments are for them personally.
- Act: You encourage the buyer to do something and motivate them to act. This type of communication hinges on whether the buyer wants to act. If the buyer doesn't, you have to make compelling arguments to push the buyer towards acting.
- Relate: Relate experiences deal with presenting the buyer as a potential elite member. Exclusivity can cause a buyer to decide to invest in a product or not. By presenting the buyer as a member of the elite, you create a status symbol out of your brand.
By developing content around these ideas you can direct a buyer towards your brand and enforce the ideas that the buyer has about your brand with a positive spin. Once you control the content, you can influence what the buyer thinks.
How Can My Content Influence Buyer Purchasing Decisions?
The crux of the matter is that you not only want to give the buyer a reason for purchasing your product, but you want to give them a reason to buy in the future. You want to build your brand around what your content says about you. Content alone is only half of the battle. With new avenues for interaction both online and offline, building a brand requires more work than it ever has before. The rewards are definitely worth the time investment however. Here are a few ideas behind building your brand and influencing buyer decisions.
- Build your Brand around Social Conversation: Social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook provide an easy access to a number of users. A lot of modern businesses overlook these channels since they don't provide as much turnover as traditional advertising. When you consider the sheer amount of users that a social media network has, and those myriad interconnections between the different users, you can't help but wonder how come social media isn't the number one channel for garnering customers for all the major brands. The answer is that they're going about it all wrong.
Applebee’s and SEMrush are great examples of two companies doing very well on Twitter. They hold weekly Twitter chats (#LiveLunch for Applebee’s, #semrushchat for SEMrush) that garner a lot of conversation, traction and loyalty from Twitter users. Besides that, they are very active on Twitter and do all the right things — posting updates with pictures, hashtagging key terms, varying their posts with updates like #NowPlaying in Applebee’s; industry tips and trends from SEMrush on #blogging or #contentmarketing.
The average social media user today isn't concerned with a business' ability to present itself online. Instead, they are concerned with how this business affects them personally. Engaging in social conversation online with a business account gives a persona to your business: yet another form of branding. Conversations add to the draw of your content and together provide a more "human" persona for the business. This is what draws customers, because they prefer buying from a person rather than a corporation.
- Tap into Millennials: Utilizing social media, just like other types of content, requires knowing your audience. Millennials are one of the largest consumers of information on the Internet, but they are almost impossible to win over by traditional marketing means. How they use their information makes it hard to form a positive image in their heads of your brand. They are extremely cynical when it comes to dealing with branding. And this is where you can make the connection.
Millennials tend to value truthful and honest advertising over fluff. Having grown up in the "wild west" days of Internet marketing, they are wary of any attempt to gain their favor through claims and promises. Your aim, when building a brand based on this demographic, should be a factually-based content-rich campaign. This content should incorporate things like images as opposed to text to deal with the Millennials' short attention span. By harnessing the most difficult-to-reach demographic on social media, you can increase your brand influence many times over
- Don't Neglect your Offline Customers: When focusing on your content marketing strategy, something many modern brands overlook is the sheer amount of offline customers they have. You need to build content for these customers as well since they represent the demographic that are buying your product. Although social media and online content is important to driving your sales, tying these into your offline marketing efforts is what makes for a well-rounded brand.
The key point that can make or break your branding efforts is engaging both your online and offline customers by keeping them engaged. In order to do this, you need to understand the emotional connection that consumers make with your brand. Once you have that figured out, it's simply a matter of tying that emotional connection to your marketing content both online and offline. Play to your strengths.
Branding and Content Marketing Working Together
Development of a branding strategy comes full circle when you utilize your content marketing in order to create a connection to your buyers. Branding is more than simply sticking a fancy logo on your product. It is the creation of a system by which your buyers and your potential consumers both link the idea of your company and your product to something that they hold dear to them. To generate these ideas, you need to use your content marketing to connect with your consumers on an emotional level.
When you do that, you set the stage for building customer loyalty through dedicated content marketing efforts. Developing a branding plan in line with content marketing is a difficult process, but once you choose a company that is experienced in content creation around a brand, you will wonder who you survived before branding success.