Just as important as marketing the products you sell or the services you provide is building your brand identity. Brand identity tells potential customers who your company is, what it does and how trustworthy and reliable you are. Building a strong brand identity doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, you’ll have to invest time and money into brand promotion, which is a long-term marketing strategy that keeps your company top of mind for those seeking the products or services you offer.
What Is Brand Promotion?
Every company must market itself, but what truly sets a product apart from its competitors is branding. Unlike marketing, which encourages someone to buy a product or use a service, branding seeks to build loyalty and a long-term customer base. When done correctly, your brand can become the go-to for a particular product or service.
Consider the Kleenex brand. When people need a tissue, they are more likely to say they need a Kleenex than a tissue. But Kleenex is just one of many brands that manufacture tissues, so how did Kleenex become the go-to word for an entire product line? Through brand promotion. People remember the brand name through its commercials, promotions and other marketing strategies that made Kleenex a household name. While most companies will not achieve that level of brand recognition, brand promotion is still vital to your business.
Brand promotion is done through marketing a logo, a mission statement, website and social media and even customer service. Building a strong brand requires you to be consistent in your message, in interactions with customers and in the products or services you provide. You want customers to feel as though they can rely on your company to provide exactly what they need.
Why Businesses Need Brand Promotion
Whether you are a small or a large business, just starting out or already established, you'll need to promote your brand to grow and retain a customer base. Branding helps to distinguish you from competitors, highlights what makes your business the best option and lets people know what to expect from your company. Brand promotion also aligns you with your target audience and keeps them engaged with your company. Reasons why businesses need brand promotion:
- Branding communicates what type of company you are. It lets people know if you are a relaxed, fun adventurous company or one that is a bit more serious and formal. All of the visual elements of your branding – your logo, social media messages, promotional materials and the way you talk to customers – tells people what they can expect.
* Branding creates familiarity. People are more likely to use products or services from a company they are familiar with. If they are used to seeing your brand on similar products or even on a new one, they may be more likely to try it.
* Branding presents a consistent message. You don’t just roll out brand promotions. Spend time analyzing your target audience and its preferences to see what works in your industry and among competitors. Once you have a strategy worked out, create a plan that is executed throughout the company so all products and services are consistent in their message. This also helps customers know what to expect when they purchase a product or service from your company.
* Branding generates referrals. Word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing. When people like and remember a particular brand, they are likely to refer it to their friends and family, are more likely to tag the brand in social media and mention it in blogs. This reaches customers you never even expected.
* Branding creates a connection. Some of the best branding evokes an emotion, creating a connection to customers. Whether your company wants people to feel comforted, excited, happy or serene, there is a way to use branding to emotionally connect with people and gain loyal customers.
When you have a clear branding strategy and promotion plan, it can also attract and retain the type of employees who mesh with your brand.
Brand Promotion Strategies
Brand promotion can be difficult, especially for small businesses that aren’t overly familiar to many people. It is challenging, but necessary, for a company to define its own brand identity before any brand promotion can happen. Brands in many sectors also face heavy competition in the marketplace, with many brands vying for consumers’ attention. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
The right brand promotion strategies can establish you as a leader in your industry. The trick is finding the right mix for your specific business and targeting your ideal customer. Brand promotion strategies include:
- Print advertising, such as in magazines and newspapers.
* Social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.
* Videos, both informational and viral.
* Online advertising through Google ads, banner ads and backlinks.
* Promotional products, including pens, mugs, T-shirts, reusable bags and other giveaways.
* Customer-focused strategies like discounts and loyalty incentives.
Whatever brand promotion strategies you choose, present a consistent message throughout. Use the same logo, fonts and colors on all branding materials. Use visuals that convey the same tone and evoke the same emotion. Make sure that a customer seeing an ad in a magazine or on social media can make the connection to that same product in a store.
How much money you spend on brand promotion depends on where you focus your efforts. Print advertising and videos are likely to cost more than some other forms of brand promotion, so determine how much you want to spend on focusing branding efforts.
Brand Promotion Examples
There are endless ways to do brand promotion. You’ll need to determine what works best for your business, your company's personality and your customers. If yours is a company that runs white-water rafting adventures, you’ll want to use more exciting images, language and colors than if you were a company selling office supplies. And your customer service department may be more casual and informal, which would be in line with your brand. Examples of brand promotions include:
Social media. Social media is a good way to showcase your brand and personality through visuals. If you have a furniture business, for example, you can create a video walkthrough of a home decorated with your furniture. You can also create online furnishing guides for a specific room or a style of home that send people back to your website for more information about featured products. The furniture showcases your style, any music you use can set the tone, and the narrator shows off your company’s personality.
Partnerships. One way to build brand identity and start generating interest in your company is to partner with other local companies and events. For example, if you run a soccer program for kids, partner with a community health fair to sponsor the event and run a soccer skill station. That way your company name and logo are publicized, and people can actually see what their kids will be doing in your program. It also creates a strong association between your business and healthy living, community and children, which are all likely on brand.
Promotional products. Promotional products can be great ways to get your logo associated with an item that represents your business and your brand. For example, put your logo and website on a nail file if you are a beauty salon. Or give out small candles in the same color as your branding if you are a yoga practitioner. One of the best parts of giving away promotional products is that they are likely to stay in someone’s home for long periods of time, meaning the person is constantly reminded of your brand or your product.
Contests. People like the chance to win free things. Whether it’s a membership, item or other free goodies, contests can help get your name out there and sign people up for future marketing opportunities. If you run a pet food store, you can run a social media promotion that requires people to post pictures of their pets with their favorite toys. The picture with the most likes can win a free toy in-store, with the stipulation that the winner has to post a picture of the animal with the new toy and a link to the store’s social media page. This helps associate your pet store brand with fun and animals, and can help grow your social media base while getting your name out there.
The type of brand promotion you opt to do depends on your resources, both financially and in manpower. If you have a social media person in-house, it may be easier to run brand promotions via social media than other outlets. If you only have someone on staff who is interested in putting together promotional products, that may be your best avenue. If it makes sense, you may have to hire an outside company to manage any or all of your brand promotion.
Whom to Hire for Brand Promotion
Depending on the size of your business and your internal resources, you may decide to outsource brand promotion rather than do it in-house. You may opt for a combination of both. If you have a strong marketing team with experience in brand promotions, consider doing everything in-house, but make sure your they are comfortable with strategic planning and execution, as well as marketing in your specific industry. If there are certain elements of brand promotion they are not familiar with, such as online advertising, that may be something you can specifically outsource.
Working with an outside marketing firm for brand promotion can make a lot of sense, especially if you run a small company. Outside marketing firms usually handle all elements of brand promotion from strategy to execution. They generally have experts in all aspects of brand promotion, including online advertising, print advertising and video. They may even have special expertise in your specific industry.
Outsourcing brand promotion can be more expensive, however, especially in the short-term when there are a lot of up-front costs related to planning and strategizing. But working with an outside marketing firm means having access to a whole team of experts you don’t have to hire or manage. And, if the firm is good at its job, you should see a nice return on investment that will more than make up for the cost of outsourcing.
If you decide to hire an outside marketing firm, make sure to hire a reputable one. Check references and see if they’ve worked with a company like yours before. Know both what services the company provides and what you want to accomplish by using them. You don’t have to know exactly the types of promotions you’ll use, but have some idea of what you want the end result to be. And, even though you aren’t hiring people to work on your staff, you still want to make sure you like them and can have a good working relationship. If they are representing your brand, the marketers you hire should be aligned with it.