How businesses can create successful branding across different platforms
Creating, and maintaining, a brand across platforms can be a challenge, particularly if the idea of cross-channel marketing and multiple platforms leave you scratching your head. In fact, what do those terms even mean, and where do you start?
The problem is that branding is about so much more than a logo or recognizable imagery these days; it’s about engaging customers at every turn, establishing relationships, and encouraging loyalty. In short, branding is everything. The way you approach cross-channel marketing, and interact with each platform available will define your brand and determine the successes and failures of your business; are you ready to learn more?
The importance of branding in the business world
The first question that needs addressing is this: WHAT IS A BRAND? To put it simply, a brand is an identifiable concept that allows people to distinguish one company, product, or service, from its competitors; an easily recognizable set of images, text, or tone of voice that ensures a business stands out from the crowd. The ultimate goal, of course, is for a company and its brand to go hand in hand so that a customer will recall that brand and a particular product whenever they have a need, or desire for it.
These days branding is about so much more than advertising; it’s used to express your company’s voice and relay its message, and to create an identity by which you’ll forever be associated. A strong brand will carry your company well above its nearest competitors, reach out to customers, and attract their loyalty. More than that, though, branding is essential for personal identity. In understanding, creating, and maintaining your brand you ensure that all employees, no matter their job description, comprehend where the company has come from, what its main aims are, and where it’s hell-bent on going, while keeping you true to those very first moments of business.
The evolution of branding
While branding once revolved around a company’s image, color schemes, and logos, paid for print advertising, and television adverts, these days there are multiple platforms on which customers can be engaged: branding has evolved, and continues to do so even as you read this post.
So, what is cross-channel marketing, or multi-platform branding? These are the names given to a process of branding that encompasses a variety of mediums. Rather than relying upon a single method of marketing, such as print media, multi-platform branding can be adapted to embrace all kinds of platforms, including targeted pop-up adverts, social media pages, viral videos, mobile apps, and, most influentially, websites and e-commerce. It is essential that you realize your brand identity is just that; it’s your business’s heart and soul, and the ‘face’ that customers will recognize instantly, and engage with.
Rather than waiting for customers to come to you, or stumbling across your marketing material by accident, multi-platform branding allows your company to step out of its comfort zone and engage with potential customers like never before; you’re in the palm of their hand, quite literally, whenever they need you, while platforms such as social media ensure you’re there at exactly the right moment. SEO, or search engine optimization, is vital when it comes to cross-channel marketing; these days it’s all about being seen.
So, just how can you make the most of this new level of engagement?
Ensuring branding success
Let’s start by looking at an example of a company that successfully tackles multi-platform branding. There are, of course, thousands of huge brands out there, but what of the businesses you may relate to at the moment?
Retail company As Seen On TV has a specific image, tone of voice, and ethos that it must adhere to across all platforms; it’s informative and instructional, and yet friendly and approachable, selling items as though it was your local neighborhood store. Its customers feel comfortable accessing its site because of its simplicity, and yet they are drawn to its attractive way of introducing the products on offer, and by the clear and concise departments into which all items are organized. Using a recognizable logo, bright photographs, and a relatable tone As Seen On TV creates desire amongst its customers over a variety of platforms; its e-commerce site is, of course, its main hub, while Twitter and Facebook feeds support its ethos and engage with customers no matter where they are or what they’re doing. The company’s branding is carefully thought out, consistent, and, most importantly, communicated across a variety of channels. No matter where you look, you will have the same experience – and that’s what successful multi-platform branding should be.
Take inspiration from successful branding out there, and remember:
Understand your customers: Before you begin the task of creating a brand it is essential to get to know your customers, their spending habits, and how they’ll access your marketing material. How do they use and interact with technology? Where are they most likely to come across your brand? The age and web habits of your clients will say so much about where your brand needs to be heading, so conduct your research efficiently.
Define and create: First thing’s first; while understanding the platforms you’ll be accessing is essential, it’s also important that you stay true to your brand. Don’t plan a campaign around the media, but allow it to work for you. Have an idea of what you’d like your brand to stand for, and achieve, and create something that defines your business’s story; who are you, what do you stand for, and where are you going? Your brand should be fluent, and recognizable across any platform.
Voice and communication: The tone of voice your brand uses is vital; it must be unique and specific, able to stand the test of time and the domination of the crowd. Be sure to communicate your brand clearly and honestly, making sure that it is reflective of the products and services on offer. A brand isn’t a smokescreen to trick customers in, but a means of introducing the service you deliver.
Consistency: Perhaps most important when it comes to branding is consistency; try to avoid repetition, but ensure the image that you’re delivering is the same across all platforms. It must be recognizable, regardless of how customers are choosing to engage with you. It can be easy to get confused now that there are so many options available to you. Remain focused on your brand and its message, use tools and resources wisely, and don’t waste a second of exposure. Finally, use your brand to inspire customers to feel a certain way about your business; ensure they know who you are, and what you’re able to offer.
When it comes to branding across multiple platforms there are three ‘C’s that you must remember, without which many marketing attempts prove futile. They are courage, commitment, and communication. It takes great courage to think outside of the box and to push your business further than ever before, commitment to ensure that your brand remains consistent and accessible, and communication to convey that message in the first place.
It’s also important to remember that these platforms will continue to evolve, even as you look on; already we have seen so many changes to the ways in which companies market themselves and engage with customers. As a business you must be prepared to accept your growing brand as an ongoing concern, and to develop it as the times change. How you move with those times will depend entirely upon you, but be sure to listen to your customers, as they’ll be your biggest fans, or critics.