Branding Tactics: The Complete 2021 Introduction for Businesses
In this article we mainly address branding tactics, but we also look at the importance of brand strategy. So, before we start, we need to be clear that we understand the difference between the two.
In a nutshell, your brand strategy, or branding strategy if you prefer, sets out your long term plan to make your branding goals.
These will be multi-faceted and include: developing brand awareness, creating a media presence, improving customer experience, developing a competitive advantage, improving your financial performance, along with more specific aims such as strategic enhancements to your online image, advertising, and motivating your employees.
Your branding tactics are the specific actions you take across all your platforms to get there. They are much more than making an appealing logo that differentiates you from your competitors. So, let’s dive in, get creative, and elucidate with a few examples.
Table of contents
- What Are Branding Tactics?
- Why Should a Business Care About Branding Tactics?
- Is Branding Tactics the Same as Brand Strategy?
- How Branding Tactics Works With Brand Recognition
- Branding Tactics vs Marketing Tactics – What’s the Difference?
- How Can Branding Tactics Help a Business Reach Its Target Audience?
What Are Branding Tactics?
As we have indicated, branding tactics are the actions you take to accomplish your business goals and strategy. While there are similarities between branding tactics and marketing tactics, they are essentially different exercises.
Marketing tactics are the actions you take to market your products and services, such as how you interact with your target audience and encourage them to make a purchase. Branding tactics shape your brand to create a permanent positive impression on your customers.
The concept that the message is in the media has not gone away. To be more specific, here are some examples of branding tactics relevant to many different types of small business, brands, and industries.
Research Your Target Audience
Today’s business environment is substantially different from the earlier days of digital marketing when small businesses decided what they wanted to sell and would attempt to persuade their customers to buy it.
Now the focus is customer-centric, where customer experience is prime. But who are your potential customers, and what motivates them in the marketplace? The first step in building a brand is finding out all you possibly can about your target audience by performing target audience analysis.
Branding Identity and Standards
Your brand should differentiate your business from the competition, including your main competitor. All major successful businesses have a readily identifiable brand, a world image determined by many different elements.
These include a logo that reflects their unique business, the graphics on their documents and websites, colour schemes, and fonts. These should be consistent across all media, including your blog. A good tactic is to develop a style guide that will ensure these remain consistent across all channels.
Setting a Brand Voice and Story
Setting an appropriate brand voice, tone and story to present to your clients will help you build relationships with your customers and create media content they want to engage with. Ideally, you should make them feel at home, respected and not patronised across all the created media you employ. Your website blog is always a good way of getting your story across.
Engage and Reward Your Customers
Your brand recognition is the most important way of maintaining customer loyalty. Customers enjoy and benefit from being rewarded in ways that keep them coming back.
A great example is Starbucks, a world leader in developing a loyal customer base. Starbucks Rewards has over 19 million members and generates almost half the company’s revenue.
Why Should a Business Care About Branding Tactics?
If you run a small business with a reasonable income, why should you bother about brands and branding tactics?
Don’t they get in the way and take too much of your precious time? After all, branding is for the big; small businesses don’t need to bother. But, unfortunately, while you might well get away with that attitude in the short term, your future is likely to be uncertain.
A great example of why you should care about branding is Jeff Bezos, who famously said,
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
Another example is Howard Schultz, the CEO of a business we have mentioned already, Starbucks, who said,
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
Elon Musk also has an interesting take on creative branding tactics and how to connect with his colossal customer base leveraging social media. The research and technology genius and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX says that
brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead; other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product
Let’s dig a little deeper into why Elon Musk considers branding tactics a vital route to success. Few entrepreneurs are more skilled at customer relationships and emotional branding than he.
Despite the string of failures and accidents involving both companies, his powerful branding tactics have seen him through all the difficulties. Now he is possibly on his way to becoming the first trillionaire on the planet.
We will finish off this string of quotes with Steve Forbes, the editor in chief of the brand we all recognise, the digital magazine Forbes. He says it all in just a few words:
Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.
Is Branding Tactics the Same as Brand Strategy?
We have already mentioned the difference between branding tactics and brand strategy, but we will now drill a little deeper into what some think is a difficult distinction to make.
Let’s start with what will be the final quote in this article, one made by Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military strategist and general and author of “The Art of War” who lived around 500 BC:
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
While Sun Tzu’s quote relates to military tactics and strategy, it applies to branding tactics and brand strategy. Tactics are the mechanism of securing the objectives set by strategy.
For instance, the actions we take to make the strategy work, such as using all the available tools we can to secure a lasting impression of our brand identity in the hearts and minds of our valued customers.
Remember that although our products and services might change and develop over the years, our brand should remain consistent.
In other words, branding tactics are the execution of your branding plan; your branding strategy is the definition of that plan; your goals, aims, and ambitions relate to customer relationships and the long-term image you desire to create.
For your business to attract recognition and succeed, both must work consistently. There is little point in having a brand strategy and ignoring the tactics; the road to success will be long and winding. And tactics with the lack of an overall strategy is simply a waste of time.
How Branding Tactics Works With Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is the degree to which you consumers can identify a specific brand from an alternative one. Customer communications are critical.
You can assess the degree to which your brand recognition is successful by the ability of your customers and potential customers to identify your brand from simple cues without them reading your company name.
Such cues could include your logo, slogan, colour scheme, packaging, theme tune and other audible messages, and so forth.
Your branding recognition tactics should focus on developing these cues and implanting them in the hearts and minds of your customer base and growing audience.
Tactics you can use to improve your brand recognition include creative content marketing, social media, a blog, advertising, press releases, logo design, your website, and developing tag lines.
Some great tag lines examples are: Nike – Just Do It; De Beers – A Diamond is Forever; Old Spice – Smell like a man, man.
Branding Tactics vs Marketing Tactics – What’s the Difference?
Isn’t branding just the same as marketing? What’s the difference? It’s easy to confuse the two, and the differences might seem a little arbitrary on the margins. But we do need to distinguish them from each other.
As we have described, branding is about creating a long-term impression of your business amongst your customers and employees. Branding tactics is the way we achieve this. On the other hand, although ultimately encompassing the long term, the marketing goals relate to short and medium-term goals.
Marketing strategy addresses the overall approach to achieving financial goals, and marketing tactics are the mechanisms and media we use to accomplish these goals.
Branding tactics aim to develop the brand – a long term goal – marketing tactics aim to achieve the marketing goals – the brand underpins the marketing tactics. For instance, the Nike Whoosh, firmly associated with the Nike brand, is ubiquitous across the entire Nike range, is a branding tactic. However, a marketing tactic to promote the latest “Nike Air Force 1 Experimental” shoes uses the tagline “Experience the extraordinary in the AF-1.”
How Can Branding Tactics Help a Business Reach Its Target Audience?
Reaching your target audience with your brand is challenging and not something you can quickly achieve. But, effectively, your aim is to educate your target audience and existing users to recognise your brand.
So, following the above guidelines, focusing on understanding your audience and developing their trust in your brand, you will hopefully accomplish your goal.
An essential and often misunderstood tool is customer feedback. While we all enjoy positive feedback, neutral and negative feedback must be taken seriously and positively acted on. Listen to what your audience is saying about your brand and fix all the issues they identify.
What Are the 4 Branding Strategies?
The four common branding strategies used to grow your brand are:
- Extension of your existing product line – in other words introducing new products that are similar to your current product line. This is appropriate if you already have a strong brand – for instance, Pepsi Cola introducing a new low sugar drink.
- A multi-brand strategy where you are marketing multiple products in the same market can be positioned differently to take advantage of different demographics. For instance, you could have a high-end product branded differently from a lower-end product.
- Brand extension introduces a new and different product under an existing and successful brand; for instance, Nike introduces a range of smartwatches under the Nike brand.
- Creating a new product line not currently relevant to your existing market. This is an ideal approach if your current brand is tired and needs refreshing.
What Are Brand Tactics?
Brand tactics are all about getting your message across. Your brand is your message, and your branding tactics are assets you deploy to instil that message in the hearts and minds of your customers. Common tactics include a logo, adherence to a style sheet, social media, a blog, a website, advertising and more.
What Is the Best Branding Strategy?
The best branding strategy for your business depends on the unique characteristics of your product and services, your marketplace, your existing product range and branding, and your long term aim for business growth. The best start is to select the most appropriate to your business from the four we have listed above.
What Is an Example of a Branding Strategy?
One of the most successful branding strategies is Tesla– a business that fails on many counts, especially in terms of delivery, yet has achieved a market capitalisation of over $60 billion. In many ways, this is perfect branding as it is based on a dream and vision. Elon Musk, the CEO, has acquired a powerful reputation for foreseeing the future and creating the next generation of products.
The brand focuses on the higher end of the market, into which it sells the fastest and most eco-friendly electrical vehicle with one of the longest ranges of all EVs. The branding strategy focuses strongly on excellent customer experience and personal communications with its customer base.
Musk’s futuristic vision is also exemplified by his venture into space tourism, with SpaceX – a perfect example of the brand extension strategy mentioned above. In this case, the brand (Tesla) and the person (Elon Musk) are almost synonymous.