Are you pumping your hard-earned cash into digital marketing but not seeing your bottom line increase?
Advertising online is a great way of gaining exposure for your company quickly – but it doesn't guarantee a return on your investment. It doesn’t guarantee customers through the door and it doesn't guarantee your money problems are going to go away.
Here’s the deal, marketing gets you awareness, that’s it. If your message is the wrong one or it's watered-down to appeal to everyone, that awareness you paid for, is wasted.
If you're not seeing a good return on your marketing efforts, you need to ask yourself why.
Are you finding your company is:
- Having a hard time standing out?
- Struggling to get traction against your competitors?
- Competing on price more and more?
- Being seen as just another vendor by new prospects?
- Getting bypassed for new companies that don't know their stuff like you do?
- Wasting money left, right, and center on the latest advertising tactics that just aren't working?
Well, we've got news for you.
- Pumping more money into marketing isn't going to help.
- Adjusting your tactics isn’t going to help.
- Trying a new marketing channel won’t help.
- Adding social tactics won’t help.
These problems are often a symptom of a misaligned brand or a lack of brand strategy, but most likely both.
Your house needs a solid foundation, and so does your brand.
You wouldn't put a brand new, super-expensive roof on a crappy old house with a cracked foundation that was sinking, would you? (I'm not saying you have a crappy house… Work with me here)
You need a strong foundation for the house to function properly.
The same goes for your brand. The bottom 2 sections make up your Brand Foundation. Before you spend money on getting attention, you need to focus on your foundation first. The foundation of your brand is the key to multiplying the return on your marketing investment.
A little hard to read? No worries, here is a PDF of the Total Brand Alignment Infographic.
You have to do the work
You need to do the work to understand the DNA of your business, create a strategy for your brand, and define the pillars that are the essence of your brand personality.
Your verbal and visual brand personality is applied to every layer above it, your website, marketing, and advertising (this is branding) – you aren’t just marketing a product/service. You are marketing a product/service from YOU and YOU are a big part of the value creation. YOU are why this product is so freaking awesome – especially compared to your competition.
- iPod vs. MP3 player
- Harley vs a motorcycle
- Toms vs a shoe
- Zappos service vs standard service frustration
- Name brand prod vs. just a thing
- Badass service vs. just another provider
In the list above, the items on the left have a brand personality that rides along with every marketing and advertising campaign. This is NO accident. These companies took the time to figure out who they are, what they stand for, why they exist – all that juicy (seemingly) woo-woo shit – and figured out how to verbalize it, how to visualize it and how to wrap everything they do with a piece of their brand personality. The act of applying your personality is what “branded” means. This is what branding is.
If you are not a brand, you are a commodity that is judged solely on price. And let's be honest, we don’t want that.
The Ritz is, well uh, the Ritz and Motel 6 has the light on and always has a room, both are branded really well for their audience.
Before you get to the personality part of your successful brand foundation you must define your company's internal DNA – this results in an authentic brand that will last and is uniquely you.
Aligning who you are as a company, your culture and your values with what you do and for whom. This work allows the next three layers to be possible (brand strategy, brand pillars, and your brand personality).
The thing is, your brand already exists. We don’t come in and fabricate who you are, metaphorically slapping a new coat of paint on you and calling it a day. We discover your brand from within your company, by removing the clutter and finding the essence that is already there. We then shape it and mold it a bit, wrap words around it and find the alignment between all the pieces, through building out your brand pillars.
Your brand foundation is where you differentiate yourself from your competitors – figure out and focus on what makes you unique and align that with your audience.
Aligning your brand involves aligning who you are on the inside with what prospects see and feel on the outside. This creates the solid brand foundation you need to make sales easier and marketing much more effective.
A solid brand foundation results in a put-together brand – not a thrown-together brand or a brand that has fallen together over the years.
Let's not beat around the bush – this is HARD work.
Most companies skip the research stage. HUGE mistake. You want success, you have to earn it (and you have to know what it looks like, too).
By doing the hard work of aligning your brand, you will end up with a brand that actually says something and connects with your audience.
It will bring strength and clarity to your sales, marketing, and vision for the future.
The goal is to build a marketing foundation that will express your uniqueness, differentiate your company, and create a position of strength in the market.
Total brand alignment is achieved when business goals, strategy, branding, websites, and marketing all work together to produce a cohesive brand experience.
What can an aligned brand do for you?
When done right, having a differentiated, recognizable, and focused brand has many benefits, including:
- An aligned brand that is well articulated and packaged is easy to understand, buy from, fall in love with, and refer to others.
- A brand that is both consistent and relevant to customers builds recognition, credibility, trust, and ultimately, loyalty.
- Brands simplify decisions for customers. When a brand consistently communicates how and why it is distinct from competitors, it reminds customers why they prefer that brand over others – and why they would pay more for it.
- Elements of your brand can be used as a filtration system to help make decisions easier: Where to focus time and money? Who is a good fit for our team? Is this a shiny object or is it aligned with our business goals? You will be able to ask and answer “Is this on or off-brand for us?”
- An aligned brand solidifies your culture and helps attract, retain and engage top talent
Marketing is where you spend most of your budget, but the key to multiplying your return doesn’t live here.
So what’s the secret to maximizing your return?
Invest in your Brand Foundation first.
Here at Branding & Beyond, we'll help you find the brand essence and personality that already exists within your company, clean it up and formulate it into a clear brand foundation.
When you work with us, we guide you through the brand alignment process. This isn’t our first rodeo.
We’ll help you build a solid brand foundation so you can implement a marketing plan that actually delivers.
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Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.