There is no denying that a strong and clear brand is key to having a successful business, both on the sales side and the awareness side. thunder::tech's Creative Department understands the importance of a strong brand and what it takes to create one.
The business is the expert in knowing its realities and needs. We take those needs and create a brand that paints a holistic picture of the business and its offerings as well as something that can be evolved as the business evolves.
Unsure about the importance of a strong brand? Read more below to understand how branding can make or break a business.
Everyone knows the power of a strong brand. It's no secret that brand recognition is one of the most critical factors for building consumer trust and loyalty, and ultimately, in boosting sales. A consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue up by up to 23 percent, according to Forbes.
“It takes time to build a brand in today’s fragmented media landscape, it is imperative that you always have some type of awareness initiative turned on,” said Leah Haran, Director of Communications and Public Relations for Marco’s Pizza. “If consumers don’t know who you are, how are they going to buy from you?”
If you are situated in a crowded marketplace, it's even more important to differentiate yourself with a strong brand and memorable personality. Even legacy brands have to keep brand awareness levels up to stay ahead of the game.
Marco's would know. They're a rather well-known brand that's competing with the likes of Pizza Hut, Domino's, Little Caesars and Papa John's. To continue taking up brain space in the pizza-loving public, they recently launched their first national brand campaign.
“The campaign combines our brand message with an everyday value,” Haran said. “So, really, this campaign contains both a brand and retail message in an efficient, tight and balanced manner.”
Marco’s Pizza's approach to combined brand and retail messaging has already started paying off. Consumers named the company America's Most Loved, Most Trusted Pizza Brand in the 2019 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study. Within the last year, Marco's Pizza's brand equity (a combination of familiarity, quality and purchase consideration) increased by 10 percentage points, with a score higher than all other pizza restaurant brands.
The Brandtailing Balance
So why, then, do companies hesitate to put money behind brand-building campaigns?
Well, because everyone has budget limitations, and it’s way easier to track things like PPC metrics than it is to measure brand awareness. When you need to prove ROI behind marketing dollars, it’s appealing to go with the option that shows clear impact over what may seem like warm fuzzy-feelies.
But don't fall into that trap. Without a memorable brand, your conversion rate will begin to deteriorate. Striking a balance between sales-focused ads and brand-building can be a much more effective approach.
Enter brandtailing. Thinking of the extreme end of retail advertising as the “Buy now! Ten percent off today only!” kind of messaging, “brandtailing” is where branding and retail marketing intersect.
The term brandtailing was coined about a decade ago by Zimmerman Advertising. They define it as a formula for building brands over time and retail sales overnight.
“Brandtailing is trying to find that right balance between ‘How do I take care of building the brand long term but creating demand today in the short term?’” said Joe Hicks, Account Services Group Manager at thunder::tech. “It’s the balance of where do you want to sit on that continuum to address business needs versus building the brand long term, which is a little more ethereal.”
It's important to understand what your business realities and needs are. If you have a slow start to the year, typically, you may want to front-load January with more retail offers and messaging to boost sales.
During peak sales season, when competition is heavy, that's when you should drive home the emotional tie to your brand. Think of the jewelry business -- around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Christmas, demand spikes. That's when brands start adding emotional value to their messaging, with one of the most successful examples being Kay Jewelers.
“They’ve done the best job of finding that correct balance between creating an emotional link with the brand and at the same time, looking at the short term,” Hicks said. “‘Every kiss begins with Kay’ is beautiful and creates the emotion, but at the end of the commercial is a very soft mention of price.”
The key is to market the brand, maintain brand integrity and weave in a retail message without denigrating the brand. No matter the size of a company, keeping brand standards and staying consistent with tone and visuals that are undeniably your brand will keep you top-of-mind to consumers.
Not doing so could damage your sales. "You're losing that conscious and subconscious recognition," Hicks said. "You won't be the first company that people think about when they have a need that matches your offerings."
Navigating the Funnel
Brandtailing doesn’t mean turning one type of messaging off when you turn the other type on. It’s a continuous balance across all advertising and messaging channels to create a holistic picture of your brand and your offerings.
“Brand building is an always-on activity,” Haran said. “Awareness, as well as the right type of awareness, and consideration are key to long-term sales growth.”
That path: Awareness → Consideration → Sale (or with slight variations) -- is often referred to as the sales funnel. The Top Of the Funnel (TOFu) messaging is all about awareness, and rarely (if ever) should include salesy speak. It's where your brand messaging lives. Middle Of the Funnel (MOFu) focuses on people who have expressed some interest in the product or service you sell and are considering their options. Bottom Of the Funnel (BOFu) is the fancy way of saying "hot leads." These customers are ripe for the sale -- this is where you close the deal. BOFu is where the retail messaging comes in.
New brands want to focus more on TOFu brand messaging -- raising awareness and creating some recognition. But even well-known companies still need to have that brand messaging as an ongoing part of their strategy with some of that BOFu retail content sprinkled in.
You want all funnel levels represented simultaneously across your advertising channels. The important thing is that you keep the right mix of brand and retail messaging, never sliding to retail-only.
“If a brand goes dark, it’s kind of like pushing a car. Once the car stops and you have to get it back going, you have to spend a lot of money to get it going again,” Hicks said. “You want to stay in continuous motion. When you stop talking, your competition doesn’t, and that’s not a good place to be.”