Long-term brand marketing is important to achieve sustainable growth. Let us tell you how to invest in long-term brand marketing to benefit your company.
There are many important areas which companies can invest in. Unfortunately, for many of these companies, long-term brand marketing isn’t one of them. And that’s bad news for marketers.
Truth is, if you aren't investing time and resources in brand marketing you are missing a serious trick. Paid ads, performance marketing, affiliate marketing... They will all help with growth but eventually, you will hit that glass ceiling. Plus, with nearly every market oversaturated at this point, you will need to spend a whole lot of money to have any chance of standing out.
Long-term brand marketing is where it's at if you want to achieve sustainable growth. It's true! 7 marketing experts tell you why investing in long-term brand marketing will benefit your company.
There’s one thing we should iron out first: short-term marketing—what’s wrong with it?
Well, nothing exactly. It’s still worth doing as it brings value. Take these examples:
- Trade shows
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Limited-time price reductions
- Discount promotions
When you do these activities right, they can help you achieve growth and instant results. The problem is, that’s all it will be—a one-off boost that won’t have the momentum to keep results high for as long as you’d like. Even when pushing hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars into your campaigns, you will still eventually hit a point where you can’t steadily grow anymore.
Plus, there’s no way your boss is going to allocate you that kind of budget, right? Yet marketers don't want to push these strategies out of the limelight. But they must. The activation effects of such campaigns will only dominate for a period of about 6 months. Why? Because brand that is the main driver of growth and profit.
Are we starting to convince you? We sense you are still 50/50. Let's use performance marketing as an example to explain ourselves further.
If you've done a lot of performance marketing you will have at some point had generated results that put a huge smile on your face. And then, all of a sudden: nothing. Things always seem to peter out. And companies do spend a lot of money on this. Investment in paid social media campaigns reached $31 billion in 2016 and larger companies spent around 13% of their revenue on digital marketing in 2017.
But why does performance marketing only bring these limited returns? That’s because there’s only so far performance marketing can take you. Web-users might click a link or advert when they first see it. However, after repeated sightings, there’s little chance of getting their attention anymore. In their eyes, those ads that they see become nothing more than spam. At least, that’s what 91% of web users who view ads as intrusive will tell you.
That’s going to quickly create a negative perception of your brand.
What’s more, there’s only so many web-users out there who your ads can be shown to. Once an ad has been displayed to your target audience, and some of them might have decided to click on it, then there will be no one else worth showing it to. The threat of hitting a glass ceiling is enough to put anyone off performance marketing for good. But it’s not such a bad thing if you are also diversifying your marketing strategy across other channels. For example, a pay-per-click ad campaign can help to support a well-thought-out brand strategy.
Think of performance marketing as a vitamin supplement. It's useful but it’s definitely not a proper substitute for a healthy diet, which in this case would be your long-term brand marketing campaign.
We couldn’t help but include this analogy from Alexander Porter, Head of Copy at Search It Local:
“Imagine you joined a gym with a 12-month plan. Your goal is to build muscle. For the first few weeks your training is intense, structured and focused. Then, as the months pass, you find yourself at the gym less. You're still telling people about your goal to build muscle, but you're not backing up those aspirations with your actions or results. In fact, what you're saying about your body doesn't match the food you're eating or the lifestyle you're living. By the end of the year, everyone knows you want to build muscle, everyone knows you talk about building muscle, but there's no change in your body to match your words. There's a disconnect between your identity and your aspirations. That sums up why we need long-term brand marketing in a nutshell.”
Alexander continues, discussing misconceived conceptions of what long-term brand marketing is:
“Brand marketing isn't the process of putting your business out in the world and expecting success to arrive in the form of increased traffic, clicks or conversions. The same way you have to put in effort over a prolonged period at the gym to bulk up, long-term brand marketing builds up your brand slowly, and builds both trust and relationships with your audience. While this takes time, the effects compound, creating a stronger, fitter and more capable business. Nurturing your long-term goals helps to create a stable foundation for success. Over time you’ll remove any doubts regarding your quality, values or personality. So when it comes time to communicating with your audience to drive sales, you've already proven yourself to be THE outstanding choice.”
Let’s go into those benefits in more detail!
A strong brand is one that sticks in people's minds long after they have seen an ad. In the past, a catchy song or some sort of special effect might have been enough to achieve this, but consumers are changing. Nowadays, if you want your target audience to remember you, you need to speak to their soul.
"Now, more than ever, people want to be able to connect with brands that align with their personal values,'' says Natasha Ritz, Co-Founder at ARNAonline. “A brand has to stand up and stand for something, sharing impactful, thoughtful messaging not just marketing jargon or sales messages."
Natasha practices what she preaches. When she and her sister, Arianne, founded ARNA, they did so with a mission to empower women to make bold decisions and change the stories women see and tell about themselves in society.
“We wanted to make a real impact in the world,'' says Natasha. “It will take 208 years until there is gender parity and there are currently more Andrews as CEOs in Australia in the top 100 companies than there are women. We wanted to play a part in fuelling the move away from this as the norm, so we created not just a business but a movement that supports the education, growth and leadership of women. On top of this, ARNA gives 1% of its total profits to women's charities and NFPs working on women's issues and rights.”
This long-term strategy is already paying off for ARNA. So far, they have experienced significant organic growth, have spoken at a conference in Dubai, created a new line of stunning women's work and laptop bags, and are about to launch their first campaign in February 2020 - all while juggling full-time jobs at other companies.
Of course, it is also possible to use short-term advertising to try to hook people with your story. However, brand storytelling is not a one-off exercise like PPC campaigns often are. To sell your story and have your target audience truly believe it, you need to have a long-term plan in place, one that is consistent but can adapt to human needs.
A study by Inc.com has shown that 90% of people expect brands to use the same branding across all platforms and channels. Yet, only one-quarter of brands adhere to this. If you can stick to building a consistent brand, you will ensure a positive customer experience, one that consumers won’t be able to turn away from.
Plus, focusing on loyalty building is beneficial to your budget in the long run.
Founder of Carma Social, Carma Levene, told us that “Investing in long term brand marketing means people will recognize and understand your business. If it's done well, you'll attract your target audience to your brand and spend less on chasing them with advertising. Customer acquisition costs decline as people know your brand and understand what it stands for. It’s said to cost 5x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Plus, selling to an existing customer stands somewhere at 60-70%”.
Were you aware that 90% of searchers haven’t made up their mind about a brand before they’ve started their search? That means you could capture a lot of people if your brand stands out from all the others in your niche. You just need to work towards making your brand the first choice. Let’s look at an example of a company who has done this excellently.
There are many smartphones available to buy but we can guarantee that if you asked a significant chunk of consumers to name one brand off the top of their heads they would name Apple.
That's not to say that Apple is better in terms of software or quality. A smartphone like Huawei is just as good (even better for some features). It's just that Apple's branding is beyond the league of any other smartphone manufacturer and has enabled them to differentiate themselves as THE smartphone to have.
Differentiation is essential if you want to stand out in an oversaturated industry. Every product or service has a USP, you just need to find yours and sell it. If your distinctive edge can help you solve the problems of your target audience, you've made one big leap towards brand loyalty - and increased sales and profits, of course.
At the end of the day, you want to try and get over that initial stat that 90% of searchers are undecided. Follow through with a dedicated long-term brand marketing strategy that could make you the Apple of your industry.
Oz Chowdhury, marketer at Powerphrase has been learning how to grow a positive brand from the big players.
“Big companies, like Nike, Mcdonalds, etc. take their time in growing their brand and segment their audience properly. Take, for instance, the Colin Kaepernick shoes from Nike. Nike took action to promote Colin and build a "mini brand" around him for his own shoes.”
Some might have viewed Colin as a controversial choice for a collaboration following his refusal to stand during the US national anthem in 2016 as a protest against racial inequality. However, Nike believed Colin was an inspiring figure for many people.. Nike’s careful and thought-out consideration around the branding of the True to 7 shoes paid off; it sold out on the first day of its North American release.
By throwing their support behind Colin in this way, Nike scored some serious brownie points in the eyes of their target audience, who tend to be young adults—a demographic that is known for being strongly in favor of fighting against injustices in society. By reinforcing this positive message, Nike was seen in a brilliant light by its consumers.
Plus, it aligns the brand very closely with something that many people see as a positive and important thing—equality in society.
Other brand marketers could take inspiration from this. By finding a worthy cause or reinforcing positive associations throughout their brand marketing campaigns, all of these good vibes will stick to the brand.
“Brand recognition and awareness play a huge part in building credibility with customers and helping the sales team close a deal. If a prospect doesn’t know your company, the sales rep will have to spend the first few precious minutes explaining who you are,” says Stephen Molloy, Founder of LOMAH Studios.
“Think Apple, Amazon, Ferrari and Starbucks or B2B companies such as Intel. In today’s market, brand credibility is your competitive advantage. Whether you are a start-up or a growth-phase business, it’s imperative for marketing heads to position the brand as a market leader, and leverage their founders’ profile to create positive brand perception and customer behavior.”
Just be careful. It is easy to become a well-known brand - for the wrong reasons. Take Ryanair as an example.
Ryanair received enough negative publicity for its brand to have a TV show dedicated to it called “Ryanair: Britain’s Most Hated Airline?” Sure, Ryanair is well-known around Europe, not just the UK. But if you ask most people, they’ll probably be able to list a lot of reasons why they would never use them.
What you need to ensure is that your brand is not just well-known, but it has a strong and positive reputation. As you build credibility, you also build recognition, loyalty, and competitiveness. The more credible you become, the more at ease your target audience is when buying from you and they’ll recommend your product to their friends and family. You know what that means. Increased sales and profits.
But is there really such a thing as bad publicity?
Even though they are known as a “cheap and nasty” airline, a lot of people use them because of that first point—they are incredibly cheap. This cheapness might have helped them for so long, but it looks like travelers are finally starting to turn their noses up at the budget airline. Just a few years ago, a huge crisis that saw many of their flights being canceled was the straw that broke the camel’s back for most consumers. After this, the brand saw their image plunge a lot more than it has before.
So, there’s a lot that can be said for building brand credibility. It can certainly help you work through turbulent times as you’ll have a strong safety net to fall back onto. But it can also help support your marketing, too. After all, your customers will want to recommend your brand to everyone they know if they see you as credible, which might not be the case for Ryanair anymore.
Your product or service is at one stage of its life right now. But that's probably not where you want to end up. You see bigger and better things for the future. Michael Nova, Director of Nova Custom Printing knows all about being able to scale business thanks to long-term brand marketing.
“We wouldn't be serving clients like AMEX, Google, Chase Bank, Calvin Klein and L'Oreal without proper long-term brand marketing. In fact, some of our long-term clients are marketing agencies. We've positioned ourselves as experts in the field of branding and marketing solutions by solving our client's custom printing challenges and fulfilling rush orders within hours. Our blog posts constantly speak about the importance of aligning packaging with the brand.”
Those that work in the B2B sector can really take a lot from this quote. But those who run B2C brands should listen up as well. Some may say that the line between B2B and B2C is getting blurry, but there are still some differences that B2C marketers need to be aware of.
As this blog post on talenthub explains, B2B should focus on building relationships while B2C will benefit from knuckling down with transactions. Campaigns for the latter need to be geared towards getting to that all-important sale. They should focus on creating better brand recognition, which requires long-term work. B2C brands need to spend time emphasizing the benefits that consumers will get from their product or service. Promoting and advertising with the intention of building awareness takes time, too. Marketers need to roll out campaigns that consumers repeatedly see all branding so that they eventually become a well-known name.
Of course, there is one main reason why B2Bs and B2Cs should work hard on long-term brand marketing. When they’re ready to scale their company, it will come in super handy.
“Google loves well-established brands because they're generally more trustworthy and authoritative when it comes to information on the web,'' says Joe Edgley at Amplified Marketing. This means that Google is more likely to favor a well known, established brand in the SERPs (search engine results pages) over a new or little known brand simply because they have already built up trust and authority. This is super important, as we see most of our clients get between 60-70% of their total website traffic straight from Google. Part of the reason Google loves big brands is also because they know that consumers often place more trust in brands they already know and love.
So here's the bottom line: Long-term brand marketing investment is a surefire way to improve your organic search engine performance - the more trusted your brand, the more customers you'll get visiting your website.”
At the end of the day, every brand is trying to make their name a household one. That’s how you earn the big bucks: people recognize you while shopping or associate you with being the best in your sector, and they’re happy to spend their hard-earned cash on you.
It’s this philosophy you should take with you when trying to scale. Once you ramp up your long-term marketing efforts, you’ll find that brand awareness starts to spread. And, as Joe points out above, this means more organic hits to your site through search engines. Those hits can then be converted into more sales, which is critical in helping your brand to scale up.
After a long time spent in areas like performance marketing, you are used to receiving instant results. And so is your boss. How are you meant to prove the value of what brand marketing is bringing your company?
Brand marketing is known as a notoriously difficult area to prove impact in.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Brand tracking has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years and advanced brand tracking is the solution to this problem. You just need to make sure that in choosing a brand tracker, you choose one that will give you access to accurate data on your target audience and competitor brands. This brand tracking software checklist will help you with your search.
If you take all the points from this article, you’ll be able to put some serious work into long-term brand campaigns. Not only will these bring fruitful rewards, but you’ll also be able to show your boss why these are efforts worth their investment!