Try a little word association: Nike. Starbucks. Apple. LEGO. It’s safe to say that you have some immediate thoughts as to what each of these brands represents. Yet their marketing has adapted to ensure the brand message evolves to continue to matter to consumers. Can you say the same for your brand message?
At a time when, on average, 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded ones, it’s clear that branding still resonates. This blog considers the importance of brand clarity and consistency, while recognizing change is going to happen — the successful brand will evolve carefully by keeping several important considerations in mind.
Knowing Your Brand Message
Of course, we’re assuming your brand already has a thought-out message. If you don’t, start there. After all, a brand message communicates your unique value proposition to customers and is ultimately what persuades them or inspires them to buy. Need proof? Brand consistency can increase revenues by as much as 23%. A brand message can also rally customers and employees around shared values or common purpose and prompt relationship building.
For your brand message to continue to matter, It ought to do several things:
- Communicate value
- Capture strategic purpose
- Engage with customers
- Inspire people (both internally and externally).
Changing Your Brand Message
A successful, lasting brand message remains relevant by engaging with the context of customers’ lives. Considering the rate of change around us today, it shouldn’t be surprising that branding messages need to evolve to continue anticipating and responding to customer needs and experiences.
Your customers can access hundreds of channels to learn about thousands of products. To break through the content clutter, your brand needs to evolve to effectively align its messaging with the pain points and passions of the target audience. At the same time, your company is probably not remaining static either (good luck succeeding against the competition if you do). Thus, your brand message may also need to adapt to better reflect your company culture and corporate values and goals.
While there’s no shortage of data available to marketers trying to understand their target audience, changing brand messaging is not easy. After all, this should be more than just a tagline tweak. Brand messaging reflects your promise or vision, defines where you fit in the marketplace, embodies a particular voice and captures your important selling points — all while considering the target audience.
In weighing a brand message change consider:
- Does your audience connect with your current message?
- Do they understand it?
- Do they associate your brand with a different message?
- Is your industry changing?
- Is your business changing?
- Are perceptions among your target audience changing?
If your brand message remains relevant and you’re continuing to see steady business growth, keep the old saw “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” in mind. But if your research and reflection is telling you it’s time to make a change, consider these important factors to set your new brand message up for a successful relaunch.
Lasting Brand Messages Take Time
Hate going to lunch with that co-worker who drives everyone at the table crazy by constantly changing their mind about their order? Likewise, you don’t want to be the business that is regularly rebranding itself. Yes, you want to be agile and responsive but brand consistency is critical too. For the Uber brand, regrettably, there has been consistently poor brand messaging. Along with the serial bad news about the brand in 2017, its logo relaunch of 2016 was roundly mocked with the tamest of the insults suggesting the image looked like Pacman and others comparing it to a bodily orifice.
Tip: Take the time to research your brand evolution and seek feedback from loyal customers to make sure you don’t stray too far from your core values and end up alienating the very people you’re trying to keep appealing to.
Lasting Brand Messages Appeal to Emotion
You may have the best product or service on the market, but if your brand message doesn’t resonate with anyone, it’s as if you’re selling something sub-par. You want to communicate not only what you do and why you do it better, but also connect with your target market. According to Harvard Business Review, 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.
Tip: Keep building a connection at the forefront of your brainstorming as you sit through all of the strategy sessions to retool your brand message.
Lasting Brands Remain True to Roots
So, your brand has been around for decades or more and you’re facing new upstarts with drones or AI or AR or some other acronym that didn’t even exist when you first started. Don’t betray all that you have stood for by trying to be the next whizz-bang-amazing brand. Leverage your heritage.
Consider big four tax firm Ernst & Young in 2013 becoming EY, with a new logo, and the tagline promise of “building a better working world.” Or Xerox focusing its branding efforts around its products doing more than just copies and instead optimizing communication, connection and work.
Tip: Develop and maintain a brand DNA, some core elements that will always remain even as your company evolves from emerging to old and established. This can foster familiarity while lending credibility to your brand message.
Lasting Brand Messages Speak to Employees Too
For a brand message to really have legs, it should also appeal to your employees. Consider your corporate culture and goals. The best brand messaging not only communicates to an external audience but also helps motivate and inspire your internal one. According to Harvard Business Review, “a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an extraordinary brand can support and advance an extraordinary culture.”
Tip: Align workforce culture and brand message to reap the benefits of a focused team driving toward the same objectives.
Brand marketers consistently rank “brand awareness” as a top goal in Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs research. A critical component in brand marketing today is taking control of your online presence. Turn to UNION for engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns built on strategy and driven by data.