The world of social media and online living has changed the way we interact with brands and companies. We’re more fickle than ever, but are also more demanding. It’s hard to capture our attention, but we want to associate entirely with a brand and have it reflect every aspect of our lifestyle.
This puts a lot of pressure on businesses and marketing teams when they’re creating or updating a brand strategy. As recently as a decade ago, brand strategy could focus on colors, logo, slogans, and product packaging and be solid and successful. Nowadays, a brand strategy has to involve social media, corporate social responsibility, and mechanisms for rapidly adapting to new technologies.
Brands have always needed to be consistent, recognizable, and promise unique value, and they still do. But in this digital age they also need to be flexible, innovative, and proactive. Strengthening your brand strategy for this new digital landscape is critical not just for staying ahead, but for keeping up. Things move quickly, and you have to be ready.
Brand Share-ability is Key
Strengthening brand strategy for the current climate needs to focus on social media. Social media is where people live these days. It’s where you’ll find your audience, it’s where you’ll spread the word of your brand, and it’s one of the major methods of promoting brand identity.
Social media is all about sharing, and your brand strategy needs to understand and leverage this. Remember Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke with…” campaign? Of course you do. Not because of the billboards, but because of your news feed. That personalized approach meant consumers loved sharing pictures of themselves with their bottle of Coke, funny names from different countries, or the whole family gathered around with their names on Coke cans.
Starbucks also manipulated their branding to encourage social media sharing. Their cup designs are uber-shareable. Whether it’s DIY coloring in cups or holiday themed cups, these simple, of-the-moment, relevant designs encourage people to share them. Social proof is more important than ever, and getting consumers to advocate for your brand is one of the best ways to strengthen your brand strategy.
Engagement and Personal Connection are Vital
People want to align themselves fully with brands and identify with them. Brand strategies have to work harder now because to get people on board you have to earn their trust and make them feel valued. People want to grow with a brand and align themselves with something that gives their business or life purpose.
As such, engaging with your consumers and developing a personal connection is vital. You need to ingrain yourself in their life so that they return the commitment. Look at CrossFit and Lululemon (fitness and lifestyle brands seem to capture this better than any other industry). People are dedicated to every aspect of these brands and what they represent.
Because of the wholehearted support which fans of your brand give you, they expect the same in return. Personal interaction and immediate responses are expected. If someone tweets you, you tweet back. Emails should address people by name and be tailored to the query. Your customer services reps are your marketers these days. Your brand strategy should reflect this.
Integrate Across All Platforms
Any brand strategy worth its salt will address how the branding is consumed, and it’s not sufficient to just state ‘the internet’ anymore. How are people interacting with your brand on the internet? Not only is it how they are accessing your brand – social media, your website etc. – it’s how they’re accessing the internet itself – i.e. smartphones, tablets and computers.
Branding needs to be fully integrated across all platforms and operating systems to feel like the experience is in no way disconnected. Seamless-ness is a key aspect of any strong up-to-date brand strategy.
Corporate Social Responsibility is More Important than You Think
It’s the 21st century. Everyone is environmentally and socially conscious. Caring about the planet and other people is not just the domain of tree-hugging hippies. The majority of consumers care about how your business interacts with the world and they expect that you care about social and environmental issues. You can’t hide anything nowadays, people will find out. You have to live and breathe your corporate social responsibility. This is a major part of your brand and how you will earn that all important trust and allegiance from consumers.