Getting back to basics: Branding is fundamental to marketing success
Marketers are faced with an influx of new technologies and solutions to help them achieve their marketing objectives and meet the needs of the business. While they may be keen to adopt the latest solutions that promise to help them reach their customers and make a lasting impact, it is important to take a step back and assess the brand and the story it tells its customers before determining which technology solution is the right one to meet their brand needs.
While marketing is about competing for human attention, branding is about connecting with people. People connect with brands that show us over and over again that they fulfil more than a basic need, they meet an emotional need, connecting with the heart and the head. According to findings from the INCITE Group’s State of Marketing 2018 report, the key concerns for marketers today is to understand the journey of the customer lifecycle, brand storytelling and crafting authentic stories that resonate with customers.
With this in mind, brand authenticity is critical to branding for both marketers and customers alike. To be authentic, a company needs to understand the brand values, how the brand adds value to the customer and the brand’s positioning. Thereafter, companies need to go back to the core to determine which tools are best for the brand and target audience. Only once this has been established should the marketers invest in these tools to pour “electronic cement” on their brand.
According to respondents of the INCITE Group’s paper, 61% of marketers agree that a critical component of their work boils down to getting the proper distribution for the marketing content so that it ends up in the right place – in front of targeted consumers. The key qualities of the brand and how it adds value to the customer, should be the most critical component of any marketing campaign. It is about telling your brand story in an authentic manner using the right technologies that will help a brand to resonate with the target audience and gain human attention against the competition.
But how can marketers measure the success of brand storytelling? This is a challenge for many marketers as outlined in the INCITE Group report which states that a hindrance for marketing budgets is the inability to measure the return on investment of their campaigns. The research identifies that only 52% of respondents indicated that they could measure the ROI “to an extent”. In order for marketing to be taken more seriously and gain a seat at the boardroom table, it needs to demonstrate its contribution to the organisation’s success.
Locally, leading marketers agree that measurement is a key stumbling block for marketing departments today. While marketing, and brand in particular, are intangibles that often influence emotional decision making, marketers are required to provide concrete measurements of the success of specific campaigns and initiatives.
This is particularly challenging for marketers as branding is a long-term strategy that cannot deliver short-term benefits if the brand value is not in place. Branding also provides an innate differentiator between companies that offer similar products or solutions which appeal to the emotions and cannot be measured against specific criteria. However, there are technologies that can provide detailed analytics on campaigns which are proving beneficial to marketers and are likely to shed some light on which campaigns have delivered results for the organisation.
More important than merely measuring campaigns though is the need for marketers to start measuring beyond the last campaign. For example the activity of employees and brand ambassadors should be measured to determine how the customer interactions translate into brand experiences and the impact of these experiences. Marketing alone cannot achieve the results that a workforce of empowered brand ambassadors is able to achieve if it delivers a consistent brand experience at every customer touchpoint.
Delivering consistent brand experiences is a critical component to the success of any brand. Yet, the INCITE Group report found that this also remains one of the key challenges that marketers are facing in 2018. While marketers have traditionally taken responsibility for the brand, today’s organisations require that an integrated marketing approach whereby various departments such as marketing and IT work together to enhance the customer experience. Today’s marketers see value in an integrated approach, yet they are equally aware of the need to upskill in the technology space if they are to deliver according to customer expectations.
Companies such as UBER, for example, have integrated technology into the core of their offering which delivers radical value that is fundamental to their customer experience. Companies working within different industries will need to follow suit and implement technologies that enhance the customer experience as they are no longer competing for customers within the same industry but rather competing for customers based on experiences. As such while not all technology solutions will be right for every organisation, marketers need to upskill their technology usage to implement the right solutions based on the brand and the needs of their customers.
To be successful today, companies need to get the basics right first and establish an authentic brand that resonates with its target audiences. Once these are in place it should be easy to find the right technologies to use which align with the brand and enhance the brand proposition of how the company adds value to its customers.