Have you been in the marketing game a while? In that case, you’ve already built a vast wealth of knowledge - but there is always room to grow.
In our day-to-day operations, we often meet marketing executives who are moving into a more brand-focused role for the first time. They are always eager to learn more about this increasingly important area of marketing. Is that you? Here’s some advice from others in the industry about the shift towards building a brand.
1. Understand the Brand’s Voice
One of the most important things to remember is that every brand must have its own voice. It is this voice that will help you attract the right target audience.
Jus Chall, Brand Strategist at Skein expands on this:
“Your brand is defined by how your customers feel about your company. A brand has a voice, it invokes a gut feeling and above all, it's always steadfast and consistent. If you are entering the marketing game then take time to understand your brand voice and personality. At uncertain times, your customers need to know that you stand resolute. You can help them feel this using your brand voice”
So, take the time at the very beginning of your new role to nail the voice. Not only will this be advantageous to your customers, but it will also ensure that you’re on the same page as your team. You all need to have the same idea in order for your brand voice to make a difference. It is your job to ensure that this happens.
Jeilan Devanesan, a Content Marketer at Venngage agrees:
“The language used across your site should be consistent, and it should feel the same in email blasts, during webinars, in YouTube videos, on user calls, and so on. If your landing page copy is generally high-energy, and friendly, that should be maintained in all your other forms of communication. Then the visuals that accompany your language/tone should also be consistent - so that includes colors, logo sizes, logo colors, logo placements, icon styles, fonts, CTA buttons, and more. This means having your design team and marketing set up brand guidelines is a big step in the right direction.”
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Unique
You’ve been hired into your role to drive the marketing/brand department to perform better all-round, but also to enter new areas. You might think that sticking to a specific brand voice could end up stifling your creativity, but it’s actually a great opportunity to be unique. After all, you don’t want your brand to sound or read like any other out there!
Jeilian continues this train of thought:
“Of course, you can draw inspiration from all sorts of organizations/businesses that are killing the branding game. But you also want to be a little different from your competitors. I think that boils down to reaffirming your mission and making sure that your tone of voice/visual styles reflect that.”
Many sectors and industries are oversaturated right now. It doesn’t look like it will get any easier to stand out in such crowded markets, so doing all you can to be unique and memorable will certainly pay dividends for your brand. If you’re not sure where the best place to start is, then encourage your team to create some unique content— 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that provide unique content.
Just make sure the content is right for your brand, as Mia de Rauch, Flipswitch Media’s Company Director tells us:
“It's also important that they choose content that best represents their brand as well. For example: If they want to look high-end then ensure your video is captured really well. Or if they want to come across more personable, then they need to prepare to put themselves out there, instead of hiding behind the content.
Brand and marketing are so important for a company, with digital making everything [is] so open. So being aware of your messaging and exposure should be a top priority.”
Getting the content just right will help you bring the right target audience to the brand. That’s because you’ll be creating the type of content that the specific demographic wants to see and are likely to share between their peers. And more eyes on the content means more people getting to know your brand.
As Mia points out, you also need to polish the tone of content so that it fits the required audience. Completely new to tone of voice? MailChimp’s guidelines are a great resource for anyone who’s taking their first steps into content creation for branding.
3. Never Stop Building the Brand
For Ryan Watson, a marketer at Marketer Abroad, execs need to always be working on building the brand:
“I'd advise executives to never underestimate the value of brand building and the sales it can drive. A perfect example is Adidas. In 2018 the business pivoted towards digital channels, splitting their budgets 77% towards digital and 23% towards brand. However, in 2019 they discovered through studies that in fact 60% of their revenue was resulting from their brand activities. Executives need to balance the immediate desire for sales with the long-term benefits of brand.”
You must continue the brand-building activities already in place, even if you think the budget might be best spent elsewhere. You don’t want to end up like Adidas!
Tracking important metrics and analytics will also be necessary when it comes to brand building. Many companies still don’t do that. So, if you want to put your stamp on an already existing brand strategy, introduce brand moniroting to the equation.
4. Trust Your Team
Tom Livingstone is a marketer with vast experience working in different tech companies of various sizes. Naturally he came into contact with a lot of high-level execs before landing his current job as Head of Marketing at Talentful. What’s one thing that all of those successful execs had in common? They all trusted their team:
“The one thing common to those who have worked well in marketing is a trust in their team and an openness to learn from the expertise that has taken years to accumulate.
Some execs can confuse accrued power with ubiquitous knowledge, but this isn't the case. Power is not knowledge. The execs that will see the most joy from their marketing teams will be those that adopt Satya Nadella's learn-it-all mindset and enter the marketing realm looking to expand their understanding, not just their control.”
Your new team will have already been working successfully together, so for you to join and instantly start to lay down the law could be detrimental. Similarly, coming in and insisting that the team changes up how they work will only ruffle some feathers and could cause staff morale to slip. It’s much more efficient to join the team with an open mind and willingness to learn from your employees.
5. Be a Good Communicator
Thomas Kreutz, Head of Marketing at Tillhub, knows how fellow high-level execs can quickly onboard to brand—it’s all down to good communication:
“I would say a good CMO always invents and finds new ways to deliver a clear and customer-oriented vision by communicating through a consistent brand. Modern marketing, and especially branding, is about bringing value to the right customer rather than convincing to buy a product that’s not a fit. Ultimately the brand serves as a holistic vision that’s being delivered by relevant marketing channels.”
Around 3 in 4 employees see communication as the number-one leadership trait, so any high-level exec, no matter their department, needs to have this in their utility belt. Good communication will also help you get the team on your side whenever you suggest any new strategies or small changes to the brand. Authenticity and good listening skills are key to clear communication, and using these when implementing changes will help your team see things from your point of view.
What’s more, a good level of communication should be implemented into your brand’s message and story. This will then make it easier for customers to understand the value of your product and why they need it in their lives.
6. See Things from the Consumer’s Point of View
Changing your perspective to see things from your customers’ point of view is important to all aspects of marketing, especially when it comes to brand.
Hank Smith, Head of Marketing at Streamwerke GmbH agrees:
“I think the biggest hurdle is getting anyone at a company to view the brand from a consumer's perspective and to honestly believe that image. Why do audiences, clients, competitors care what your brand does or says? And does your brand live up to expectations?”
Anyone with any form of marketing experience will have had to step into their customers’ shoes at one point or another. The only difference now is that you need to take that viewpoint to look specifically at the brand image. How do consumers see it?
Bear in mind that your brand doesn’t exist within the company; it primarily exists within the mind of your customers. This is something that David Morneau, Co-Founder of inBeat would be quick to argue:
“It is about what people think and feel of you. Sure, a nice logo, a nice website, and good copywriting give you brand points, but brand reaches further. From the tone of the writing on your blog to your logo, all the way to your customer support, brand just flows through your business.”
Maggie Gnadt, Senior Marketing Specialist at Terakeet takes this point one step further and clarifies that your brand is in more minds than just those of your customers:
"It’s important to note that you aren’t the only one who defines your brand. Customers, employees, and third-party websites also have a lot to say about your business, and that online content appears in your search results for everyone to see. Often, what searchers find on the first page of Google can overpower the brand you define internally. So it’s vital to manage your brand assets digitally as well as in the real world."
By viewing things from other perspectives, you can quickly see just how the brand is viewed in public. How do you do that, we hear you ask? Tracking metrics is the best way forward. From brand awareness and satisfaction to equity and health, you can gain insights into the brand that highlight just what your customers really think.
7. Remember Why you Were Hired in the First Place
Even though your marketing background might not be in brand, there’s a reason your new boss gave you this exciting position. The knowledge and experience that you bring will certainly be useful and an exceptional fit for brand marketing.
Christopher Grozdon from Dash SEO believes this is something to celebrate:
“My advice for people in this situation is to step back and take a look at the issues they were hired to solve; while also incorporating their preexisting experience. There's a reason why the company you're working for hired you in the first place, right? Right! So let your skills shine through and familiarize yourself with the brand as each day passes. You'll be able to grasp a further understanding as time progresses along and soon enough you'll become the true expert on how to make the company thrive under your leadership.”
Remember, you need not be a brand expert right away to succeed in the role; taking the time to understand the company’s brand and listening to what the team has to say is enough to get you off the starting line. Paweł Ławrowski, Head of Growth at Tidio Live Chat, rounds it up well:
“Here’s what I’d advise any high-level manager learning branding.
Firstly, they need to address all the misconceptions. Some CEOs still think that branding isn’t a good investment that helps to make money. It is and it does.
Secondly, branding isn’t a one-time project or a one-step process. Every executive should understand that the work isn’t done after they implement the branding strategy. The goal is often to reveal the challenges and help create a foundation for the brand, which means more work.
Thus my third recommendation is to invest in branding strategy accordingly from the start. Success demands great dedication and long-term commitment, so if one doesn’t stay committed, the whole project will be a waste of time.
And the last thing: be sure to schedule your time in advance. Branding requires a lot of your time, so try scheduling everything at the very beginning.”
Remember that consistent branding increases revenue by 23%. Let that, and the advice in this article, be the driver of your efforts to win.