As the business world continues to evolve year after year, so does the way companies need to market themselves to be most effective in today’s competitive marketplace. This is common knowledge for areas of marketing like social media and digital publishing, where the landscape seems to experience momentous shifts every few months as new platforms are launched and algorithms change.
An aspect of marketing that changes less frequently though, and as a result is often overlooked when it comes to finding new strategies, is branding. But it is critical to stay current on how to evolve your company’s brand image to reflect the present needs and expectations of consumers.
As your company develops its 2020 marketing strategy, here are four key shifts in branding to be mindful of.
Branding Impacts Customers, Employees And Potential Hires
With a wider variety of companies now available to candidates than ever before – from scrappy startups to established industry giants – there are a lot of hoops to jump through to attract top-tier talent. On top of that, with higher transparency than ever before, thanks to platforms like Glassdoor, social media channels and various other websites, your company culture is on full display to potential new hires.
As a result, companies need to begin thinking of branding as a way to not only attract customers, but also as a way to entice qualified job seekers to join their teams. If your company appears unprofessional, whether by having poor design or having few followers on Instagram or limited reviews on Yelp – you run the risk of missing out on premier candidates. Additionally, if your company appears not to prioritize employee well-being, candidates may doubt the integrity of your organization.
The numbers back up the importance of company culture quite clearly. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct company culture is important to the success of a business. Another study found that companies with strong work cultures saw a significant increase in revenue growth when compared to companies without performance-enhancing cultures. As you approach branding, keep in mind how much of an impact it has on different aspects of a business and your bottom line.
Affordability Isn’t Always The Answer
The race to the bottom when it comes to pricing might not be something your company needs to participate in at all – especially if you target millennial buyers. Whether it’s in the form of a superior customer experience or higher quality materials, younger customers are willing to pay more. In fact, according to PwC, 42% of consumers said they would pay more for a friendly, welcoming customer experience and 52% would pay more for a quick, efficient customer experience. On top of that, Nielsen found that nearly 3 out of 4 millennials are willing to spend more for sustainable products.
The meteoric surge in popularity of premium brands like Equinox and Whole Foods both attest to this increased attention to quality.
“The main goal is to create a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints to exceed your standards and your customer’s expectations. By keeping an eye on the entire customer journey, you’re making sure that the promise of a positive experience is kept and that you’re offering a superior service. Creating an experience really impresses purchasers and ensures that they will keep doing business with you in the future. A superior experience becomes a valued and unique asset for any type of business,” says Shahin Safai, CEO of Royal Personal Training, a fitness startup focusing on personalized coaching and an elite workout experience.
The fitness company has seen success – despite being in a highly crowded space peppered with low cost alternatives like Planet Fitness and LA Fitness – by offering patrons a premiere customer experience, partnering with luxury hotels and top-tier Instagram influencers like Sommer Ray.
With so many options available on the market today, consumers aren’t afraid to shell out extra cash if it means they’ll get something extra in return or are helping a good cause.
CEOs Building Personal Brands
Consumers today are pummeled with advertisements at nearly every touchpoint humanly possible: while scrolling through Instagram, on the subway during their morning commutes, while listening to their favorite podcasts, while driving along the freeway, when watching TV, and more – the list goes on and on. During each of these interactions, consumers are told over and over again how important or life-changing every one of these brands are. As a result of this excessive exposure, consumers are becoming desensitized to the idea of trusting anything a faceless logo on a billboard is telling them.
This overexposure to traditional advertising might be a direct link to the rise in popularity of an alternative form of marketing for companies: the personal branding of CEOs as thought leaders in their respective spaces – given how it’s much easier to trust a human being than a logo. This approach has become much easier with the proliferation of social media and other digital platforms, where ideas can spread like wildfire. With public figures like Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone helping forge the path as influencer CEOs, one click over to LinkedIn or Instagram will highlight how popular this approach has become for entrepreneurs as a method for generating brand awareness.
By publishing shareable, valuable content, whether that’s in the form of blog posts, Instagram Stories, YouTube videos, LinkedIn posts or something else entirely, you just might create unmatched reach and awareness for your business while also positioning yourself as a though leader in your industry.
The Importance Of Giving Back
Omnicom found that 70% of millennials are willing to spend more for brands that support charitable causes relative to those that don’t. If the success of companies like TOMS, Warby Parker, Bombas and more have taught us anything, it’s that modern-day customers care and support mission-driven brands. Oftentimes, it isn’t enough for a business to solely provide top-grade products or services – you also may need to care about causes larger than your offerings and put your money where your mouth is to support those initiatives.
Take American Eagle for example – the company is donating 100% of profits from a collection they designed with a team of teen advisers. Each piece of the collection is designed with an embedded QR code which allows anyone with a smartphone to scan the code and donate to the nonprofit Delivering Good, helping the homeless and underprivileged young people. Not only are they supporting a good cause with the initial sale, but continue to do so with future donations made through the QR code technology.
The good news is that “giving back” can take a variety of forms, such as donating a portion of your products to charity, allocating a percentage of your profits to related nonprofits, giving out helpful content for free, or allowing your employees to volunteer a certain number of hours.
Like any other aspect or process within your business, your company’s brand image should evolve over time to reflect changing market trends, consumer expectations and collective ideals. In the coming year, applying these strategies just might give you the competitive edge you’ve been looking for in the marketplace.