Building Your Brand In The 21st Century

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Earle Dickson disliked that his wife had to stop her dinner prep to take care of minor cuts and burns by finding some gauze and then some adhesive bandage tape to take care of them. So, in 1920 he invented the winning solution – the band-aid.

At that time, he worked for Johnson & Johnson, and “Band-Aid” became a brand name very quickly. Today, the term applies to any similar product sold worldwide by any number of manufacturers. 

In the above case, brand recognition went too far and was “captured” by others.

This case is an obvious exaggeration of brand recognition. It still happens but is the exception rather than the rule. Most large brands are trademarked. For example, one major online dating service has trademarked the term “match.”

While singles of all varieties can have access now to thousands of dating services, those services cannot use the word “match” in any of their promotional advertising.

As a business owner, you will probably not encounter the same legal issues as the “big boys,” though you should remain mindful of trademarks.

Beyond that, your job is to promote your brand so that it increases recognition, generates customer loyalty, and stays competitive in your market niche. And in the 21st century, this will require a lot of strategies and techniques. 

Let’s talk brand awareness

You have launched a business – a product or service that you believe solves a problem for a consumer base you have researched and identified. Now, you have to focus on getting that consumer base, and that is all about brand awareness and ultimately customer loyalty.

Decoding TikTok 'Branded Effects' For Marketers

Here is the normal progression of getting this accomplished.

No awareness

You are in business but your customer base does not know you. And even if they have perhaps heard of you, they have no real interest. At this point, you are an unknown quality with no reputation. This is normal.

There is recognition

Because you have engaged in some marketing strategies, consumers will recognize your name, your logo, maybe your slogan, and colors – all things you must have put into place. They may make a purchase, but loyalty has not yet been cemented. You have to keep connections with your customers via marketing to them personally.

They remember you

You have achieved loyalty. When your customer thinks of you whenever they want your product or service and (best of all) recommends you to others, you have achieved the type of brand awareness you want.

These are the natural stages your brand awareness campaign will go through, so long as you are growing it in the right way.

In 2023, brand promotion requires two key elements – how you promote your brand to your audience and then the marketing techniques you use.

Promoting your brand to your audience – It’s a content thing

Before you develop actual marketing content and venues for that content, you must first fully understand your consumer base. Once you do that, you will know the type of content you want to develop.

Create a consumer profile

Dummy up your typical customer. Give him or her a name. Based on your research, fill in the details. What is their socioeconomic status? Their education level? Where do they live? What is their age? What are their values? What do they do for leisure time activities? What is their job? 

Customer profile

Get as detailed as you can. If you have not created a profile before, there are plenty of online templates that you should access and use.

Clarify the problem you are solving for your consumer

When Mark Levine and Michael Dubin came up with their idea for Dollar Shave Club, they identified a problem that they could solve. Men had to use old and dirty razors because they forgot to stop at the store and get some new ones.

The solution? Offer a subscription to a razor “club” where their new razor blades would be delivered to their doorstep every month. The rest is history. It was ultimately sold for $1 billion

What is the problem you are solving for your customer base? If you cannot identify it, you’re not ready to launch. Because solving a problem for them will be key to your marketing strategy.

How are you going to make your customer’s life easier, more convenient, or more enjoyable? How will your product or service serve one of these needs? The content you create will have to speak loudly to the solution you are providing. 

Logo, colors, slogan

A major part of the content you present to your potential customers is a brand image. You need a logo and brand colors that speak to your product or service. When the founders of Dollar Shave Club first launched, their customer base was male. They needed a rugged “look” and chose brown and a muted orange.

Their website was rugged-looking too. – lots of woody backgrounds. Now that the customer base has come to include products for women, that has changed somewhat. But the logo is the same because it is what continues to make the brand memorable – two criss-crossed orange razors on a dark-brown background.

How Fonts and Colors Influence Customers Buying Decisions

Consider the differences between the loud primary colors used by Lego and the muted and “royal” colors of Cartier. 

Your brand has a voice, and it must be reflected in the colors, the logo, and any slogan you create. 

Appeal to their values

You understand your audience’s value. Suppose, for example, your consumer base is primarily Millennials and Gen Z. These younger consumers want to do business with companies that are socially conscious, environmentally responsible, and who make giving back one of their cornerstones.

Highlight what your company does in this regard. One of the reasons that Toms Shoes has become and continues to be so popular with these generations is its giving program. For every shoe purchased, it donates a pair to a child in need. Over time, it has expanded into several other causes.

Be relatable

When you develop content for your site, your social media accounts, and other marketing venues, be certain that you are speaking the language of your target consumers. As good examples, check out Red Bull’s website vs. that of Rolex. You’ll get the idea.

Today’s consumers want to feel that they have some connection with the companies they do business with. Aside from honoring their values, you would do well to personalize yourself as much as possible.

Tell your story; reveal a bit about your personal life and what you do when not working. Highlight your staff in some of your content. Ask loyal customers to tell their stories about the use of your product or service. This makes you authentic and genuine.

Venues for your marketing content

In short, you go where your target audience hangs out – it’s not rocket science.

Social media

The beauty of social media is that it’s free

Do the research and learn which platforms are the most popular with your target audience. Hit those heavily – posting several times a day with creative, humorous, and inspirational content. Probably the best example of the effectiveness of this strategy is Foundr digital magazine. 

Get active on social media

Nathan Chan saw a problem and decided to provide a solution. He realized that young and new entrepreneurs did not have access to easily understandable advice for getting their businesses moving on a path to success. He decided to create a digital subscription-based magazine with valuable content, such as interviews with those who have made it.

He had $3000 in 2013, so he kept his regular job and began his project on the side. Realizing the value of social media, he did his research and discovered that his audience had a large presence on Instagram. So he began a total immersion campaign on that platform.

He bombarded the channel with posts – bunches of them every day. To attract his audience, he made it simple and inspirational. Each post consisted of a famous quote and an amazing photo. As his audience began to gather, he engaged in conversations, offered discounts, and ran contests.

To get those discounts and enter those contests, a follower had to share his posts with 10 of their friends.

Over a period of 19 months, Chan built his following to 850,000 – a huge achievement. Ten years later, the magazine is an icon for budding entrepreneurs, primarily because it provides valuable, usable content.

And unlike many other digital magazines, Foundr looks and feels like an actual one - a cover design followed by articles with plenty of visuals. As Chan himself says, there will be something for everyone at any stage in their journey of entrepreneurship.

Find influencers

Who are the people your audience follows who post or blog in your niche? Follow them too – ardently. Comment on all of their posts and work to establish a relationship.

Now, you are not looking for huge influencers like Taylor Swift, but there are still those who have thousands of followers in your business niche. Start with them. Send them your product or offer your service for free in return for a review.

Influencer

This can get a bit tricky. You may have to offer payment for these influencers to take you up on your offer but dig deep into your pockets to do so. They have your target audience in their sphere of influence, and these are loads of potential customers.

Do the same with influential bloggers. If you can write compelling and engaging content yourself, send a couple of your own posts over and ask that they be published. The worst that can happen is a rejection. In the meantime, follow those blogs, participate in discussions, and promote yourself as you do so. 

Use related businesses

You understand the term “tit for tat.” What are related businesses that are not competitors? Get in touch and see how you can be mutually beneficial. You can agree to promote each other’s products on all of your platforms and in your blog posts.

Direct advertising

This can get pretty pricey, but there are a lot of avenues. Those avenues are too numerous to be covered here, and they will require some solid research on your part to get the biggest “bang for your buck.”

Direct advertising is becoming a bit less pricey. For example, some major cable TV enterprises are offering local advertising packages to small businesses attempting to target their audiences. If this can fit with your marketing campaign, explore the possibilities.

Email campaigns

If you’ve been a consumer of any company, you know the drill. As soon as you purchase a product, you will become a target for emails that offer related products, discounts, special sales to existing customers, etc.

Develop your own email marketing campaign, and save yourself some time and energy by using one of the hundreds of platforms that will do this for you, and track your success metrics. You supply the content – they do the rest, including categorizing your customers into categories based on their purchasing behaviors.

SEO is important

When consumers search for products or services, they often begin with a generic search via Google or Bing. Your goal is to get onto that first page of results. This is a long and complex task but worth it in the long run.

Advantages of outsourcing SEO

You have a company to run and will not have the expertise to optimize your business for SEO. Employ the services of a freelancer or one of the numerous companies that focus on this task. Check out their reputations to make sure you use someone that has proven success.  

Your brand is valuable – Promote it and protect it

These tips and strategies should give you plenty of information on how to promote your brand. You may have to begin small, based on your budget, but you have ways to promote without huge expenditures.

The other factor here is brand protection. Your reputation is as valuable as your brand. There are agencies that will track and report to you any time your brand is mentioned anywhere online so that you can see what people are saying about you. Invest in their services.

If you have social media campaigns, monitor them daily and respond immediately to any customer who has had an issue. Again, you can set up automatic alerts that will get you on these immediately. And above all? NEVER promise what you cannot deliver.

No go forth and build your brand!

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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