What is brand marketing? You probably already know what branding and marketing are on their own. But, when you combine the two concepts, you get a powerful commercial entity that takes your business to the next level.
Think about some of your favorite brands for a second. What makes you gravitate toward them? Why do you pick up their package at the store instead of every other option on the shelf?
Maybe you picked your favorite coffee brand because of their wide range of selections or sustainably sourced products. Perhaps you thought of a fast-food chain with a delicious and insanely cheap value menu that got you through college (thanks, Taco Bell).
Your favorite brands have a special meaning to you in your everyday life. While you may think that meaning was drawn from your personal conclusions, sometimes it's taken from the subtle way the brand markets itself to you.
So, what is brand marketing? It’s an art form, really! This article will show you how to master this art form by breaking down the concepts behind brand marketing and using the psychology of branding to craft meaningful marketing messages.
What is Brand Marketing?:
- What is a Brand?
- What is Brand Marketing?
- The Psychology of Branding
- How to Build a Creative Brand Marketing Strategy
- How can CreateApe Help With Brand Marketing?
What is a Brand?
It may feel like we’re stating the obvious here, but let’s define a few terms before we get too deep.
A brand is the creative assets that define a product or service. More specifically, a name, term, logo, voice and tone, color palette, or a combination of all these that distinguish one manufacturer’s product from another.
In a competitive market, a brand needs to have a unique identity so:
- You can demonstrate the quality and uniqueness of your product or service compared to your competitors.
- Your customers can make an educated decision on the product or service that best fits their needs or personal values.
Say your company sells laundry detergent for people with sensitive skin. You have a specific audience in mind, so you need to craft a brand identity that speaks to their needs.
This means the creative elements of your branding need to reflect your purpose, either by incorporating “sensitive” somewhere in the brand name (and definitely on the packaging) or using soft pastel colors and light fonts.
What is Brand Marketing?
You can’t craft a compelling marketing campaign that encourages your audience to act without a clear understanding of your brand.
Brand marketing is promoting your product or service by highlighting your brand as a whole. The idea is to continuously build awareness and recognition of your brand by keeping the identity front and center.
What sort of things do you see in marketing campaigns for Harley Davidson motorcycles? Leather, cigarettes, loud engines roaring, and maybe some gritty southern rock in the background? How out of place would those things be in an ad for a Toyota minivan?
While branding and marketing are two separate beasts, marketing campaigns need to heavily feature a company's branding to be effective.
Let’s think about cars again. Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with luxury, so their print, digital, and social media marketing should do the most to convey luxury. From the b-roll footage of rich, leather interior to the sleek, minimalist (but iconic) logo, the ad leaves viewers everywhere daydreaming about driving a Mercedes (or pulling out their wallets to buy one).
The goal is to create something “sticky.” In other words, a long-term and strategic communications plan that grows your customer base for years to come. But how can a company use its branding to build intimate, human connections with its customers?
The Psychology of Branding
Different things get different reactions from people for different reasons. For example, the color red can invoke passion or romance in some people, and for others, it can denote danger.
This demonstrates how creative elements like colors, symbols, and written words affect us emotionally. It also shows how a brand can resonate with someone on a deep, personal level.
The interesting thing about branding is that there’s a science that drives creativity. Through consistent patterns and color psychology, you can foster a sense of familiarity with your consumer and inspire trust in your product.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of branding psychology:
- Red: Passion and boldness
- Green: Nature and earth
- Yellow: Cheerfulness and positivity
- Brown: Honesty and trustworthiness
- Consistency with branding = recognizable and loyalty-building
- Inconsistent branding = unpredictability and easy to forget
In-Groups (Branding Subcultures):
- Building communities around brands.
- PlayStation vs. Xbox
- Apple vs. Android
- Ford vs. Chevy
- Nike vs. Adidas
- This is the theory that brands have five distinct personalities they draw their voice and tone characteristics from.
Once you build a unique identity with a solid basis in brand psychology, you’re golden, right? Yes and no. When brand psychology is used right, it creates a powerful connection between company and consumer.
But when brand psychology is used wrong, it can come off as manipulative and off-putting. In the worst case, misused branding psychology can tank your brand’s image long-term.
Abercrombie & Fitch is an interesting case because it’s a prime example of how a brand can harm its consumer’s psychology. It’s a cautionary tale about how bad brand marketing destroys a reputation at peak popularity.
Abercrombie was the Queen Bee of preppy clothing throughout the 2000s after shamelessly building its brand personality around sophistication. Plenty of clothing brands project a sophisticated image to encourage their consumers to drop big bucks on expensive clothing, where they went wrong was their exclusionary practices.
CEO Mike Jeffries made it clear that he only wanted a certain type of consumer wearing their brand, which is why they never made plus-size clothing. He wanted their brand marketing to only target the "cool kids" in school, leading to the brand alienating a large portion of their consumers.
A string of scandals followed in Abercrombie’s quest for exclusivity, leading to consumers turning on the brand. When Jeffries resigned in 2014, the brand was only expecting to make $106 million in profits (less than half of what it made in 2012).
Psychology is indeed a powerful tool in brand marketing. But consumers need to feel at ease when interacting with your brand, which is where user experience and brand marketing go hand in hand!
How to Build a Creative Brand Marketing Strategy
What is brand marketing if not UX strategy for brands? The goal is to develop or maintain the brand’s reputation through meaningful communications that inspire awareness and trust. Swap out the word “communications” with “experiences” and boom...you’ve got UX strategy!
You might notice some overlap between the steps to creating and executing brand marketing and UX strategies. That’s because both successful brands and digital products need to work FOR the intended audience to have a lasting impact.
These steps will help you define and build upon concepts that tell your brand’s story. They’ll also show you how to use that story to create marketing messages your audience won't soon forget!
5 Steps to Creating a Brand Marketing Strategy:
1. Define Your Purpose
The first step to creating anything worthwhile is asking all the important questions. You not only need to define who you are but justify why your brand exists.
Say you’re a beverage distributor releasing your own brand of cola. Why did you choose cola when you know you’d be going up against giants like Coke and Pepsi?
Are you in charge of an already-popular line of beverages and want to expand your offerings? Did you want to create a cola with fewer chemicals and more all-natural ingredients? Are you just tired of the cola wars and want to create a product that crushes them once and for all?
Whatever the reason, you need to answer these questions and decide if it’s a good enough reason and a strong enough selling point for your product.
2. Understand Your Target Market and Competitors
Much like UX strategy, the success of your brand is determined by the target audience (end-user). As always, you need to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and empathize with their needs so your brand marketing resonates with them in a meaningful way.
Ask the basic questions first:
- Who is your target audience?
- What do they want?
- What do they do for work?
- How old are they?
- Are they married or single?
- Where do they live?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
Once you gather some intel and put together personas, dig a little deeper to discover how your brand impacts their everyday lives:
- Why should your consumers trust you?
- How do you want your brand to make them feel?
- What imagery do you want them to associate with your brand?
- What other brands do they admire and why?
- What brands do they not like and why?
3. Create Your Look and Feel
You know what makes your audience tick. You also know how and how not to communicate with them. It’s time to craft a brand identity that will be ever-present in their minds for years to come.
Those target market questions already give you insight into how your customers think and feel. The next step is to merge that insight with what you know about branding psychology.
Use patterns, color psychology, potential in-groups, and brand personality theory as guidelines while developing creative branding assets. This will help you tick all the right boxes and avoid a potential branding faux pas.
Imagine that you’re creating a new, cutting-edge smartphone. In your target market survey, you found your users like the simplicity of Apple’s branding but found their color palette too sterile. They also said they like Android’s communication style, but think their logo makes no sense.
This feedback will guide your creative team to design a brand that perfectly fits the product, the industry, and (most importantly) the consumer.
4. Tell Your Story
Every brand, big or small, has a story. And each story has real people and real dreams behind it. Those real and raw stories are the human touch every brand needs to relate with its audience.
Whether your brand started in a home studio or under the guidance of trusted industry professionals, the overall vision should be apparent in brand marketing touchpoints.
Think about one of the most endearing brands of all time, Disney. With all the media and intellectual properties they own, the face of their brand is still Mickey Mouse. On top of being instantly recognizable, Mickey serves as a reminder of the company’s humble beginnings.
We see reflections of ourselves in brands all the time. Either because of our personal preferences or because we relate to their creative storytelling on a deep, intimate level.
5. Create Guidelines
Going back to brand psychology, consistency is paramount in brand marketing. Consumers become familiar with brands through constant exposure, so any out-of-character creative decisions stick out like a sore thumb (and sometimes leave a bad taste in their mouths).
Branding guidelines ensure consistency in communication no matter who’s in charge of marketing duties. Lay out the foundations of what makes your brand unique and how to emphasize those points in marketing campaigns. Keep plenty of examples on hand to show everyone how it’s done.
Think of these guidelines as the dos and don’ts of communicating on behalf of your brand. This helps your creative team let their imaginations run wild — within reason.
How can CreateApe Help with Brand Marketing?
Gee, how can the UX experts build a brand your customers will love?
The principles of user experience go far beyond digital products, meaning our full-stack team can help you develop a user-approved brand identity for any kind of product. Leave it to us to take the ideas and concepts behind your product and turn them into a cutting-edge brand identity.
Brand Marketing Services:
- Stakeholder interviews
- Competitive analysis
- Logo design
- Color palettes
- Voice and tone analysis
- Website/app design
- Copywriting services
- Social media/email marketing templates
- Brand guidelines
- Video editing
- And much, much more!
So, What is Brand Marketing and Why is it Such a Big Deal?
Branding is who you are as a company, and brand marketing is how you present yourself to consumers. That first impression of your brand is essential in establishing your company as a force to be reckoned with in your competitive market.
We’ve taken a look at good and bad examples of brand marketing — and saw how it makes or breaks your company. Branding should NEVER be an afterthought, as the mission, values, and creativity behind the product matter to the consumer just as much as product quality.
Remember, the customer is as layered and complex as the story behind your brand. Always think beyond the logos and advertisements — let the real experiences surrounding your brand guide your marketing efforts.
Need some help crafting a compelling brand identity? Drop us a line today!