When we look back at traditional media and company structures in relation to marketing strategy, a simple formula existed that allowed brands to project their desired image. All they seemed to need was three key elements:
- A great product;
- A single company value; and
- A compelling ad campaign.
Although these elements are certainly still components of brand perception, the way that businesses approach consumers has changed dramatically. Brands must now invest in marketing strategies that will help them form deep, sustaining emotional connections with their consumers beyond the borders of traditional advertising.
Without this, brand perception and brand loyalty cannot flourish. Here’s why:
Trust and loyalty go hand in hand. Think of any human relationship and you’ll see this dynamic play out – those who don’t trust each other see no benefit to showing loyalty, and those who aren’t loyal immediately disqualify any previous trust in them. The same basic psychology applies to B2C relationships.
Every business desires client/consumer loyalty, but this cannot be obtained without first garnering trust. This is where in 2019 the traditional advertising model falls flat – businesses who simply rely on a product, a value and a campaign and try to immediately jump the queue and receive consumer loyalty will be sorely disappointed in their results.
Brand Perception: Understanding Brand Trust & Brand Effect
We see this all too often, wherein:
- A campaign might be initially successful (by whichever metric a company uses to define their success) but then fall flat once the ad spend stops, leaving the business in a costly cycle that becomes less strategic and more reactive over time as they keep chasing the ever-shifting mirage of loyalty;
- A campaign alienates the company’s existing audience if they feel like they’re being viewed for only their buying potential;
- A campaign achieves mediocre results and with no clear strategy driving it other than a vague promise of brand awareness, the company doesn’t know how to tell if the campaign was successful or not… thus leaving them floundering and unsure of their next marketing move; or
- A campaign is successful, but has no focus on sustaining customer relationships and building loyalty and thus, once a customer completes the required transaction (according to the campaign goals), they’re immediately bumped out of the funnel with no plan to draw them back in.
All of these situations are dangerous. You never want to be in the circumstance where you are not sure how to measure your successes, how to pivot your direction, or how to keep customers coming back for more.
When we look to some of the biggest, and most widely successful brands – Apple, Google, Nike and Amazon, for instance – we see some common attributes. All innovate. All take the time to not only thoroughly understand their customers, but to predict what they’ll want before they know that they want it. All appeal to their customers most innate desires and position themselves as an integral aspirational and achievable element of their customers lives.
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And that’s an impressive feat, in any business. And all of them are only able to get to this place of success and sustain it with the guidance of an effective, powerful, predictive and evolving marketing strategy. When we talk about strategy in this sense, too, we must be clear; this is no run of the mill campaign strategy.
Building brand perception through an effective marketing strategy.
Effective strategies start from a core business level because in our experience, successful marketing strategies can never operate independently from brand strategy, nor can brand strategies operate independently of process and business strategies.
It all relates, intertwined and interconnected at every touch point. And with so many moving parts all relying on each other yet controlling diverse facets of a business, it’s integral to have a comprehensive direction that mitigates risk whilst allowing for consistent innovation to position you (and keep you) as a market leader.
Let’s look again at some of the biggest brands – Google, for instance. Consider the way that Google is now used in everyday life, it’s easy, convenient and fast. But the speed and ease of use doesn’t compromise on perceived security. It feels safe and reliable.
Trust. A core pillar of brand perception.
This sense of accuracy and security means that people are comfortable considering Google as their go-to search engine. It’s become a verb; ‘Googling’. But how did Google become a trusted giant that we allow into our homes, businesses and lives? Every initial move it made was thoughtful. Considered. Deliberate, in every sense of the word. Through careful strategy and taking the time to understand the needs of their consumers, they were able to solve a problem. Then multiple problems. Then become trusted as a go-to source regardless of the problem.
You may not be in the same ballpark or industry as Google – you might be product based, service based, both or neither. But all businesses can learn from this considered approach. The customer must always come first (as cliché as that may sound) and you always need to be providing solutions, even if your customers don’t yet know that they have a problem that needs to be solved.
Just as you innovate your product and services, so too must you innovate your business, process, brand and marketing strategies.
It all comes back to value – not dollar value, but brand value. What your brand stands for, its core ethics and guiding principles are as crucial to your business success as your products and services. It’s not enough for a business to simply want to be perceived as making an impact, they must be impactful.
This all ties back to creating a cohesive and overarching strategy that takes into account not just the overall goals of a business, but the vast array of moving parts that must perform a careful dance to truly make everything happen. It really is a balancing act, and it requires clever, unique and adaptive approaches.