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Complete Advanced Guide to Branding: Part 1

Brand purpose

Brand Purpose is perhaps quite trendy over the last few years and we have seen that in events like the Cannes Lions Advertising conference, industry leaders are talking about brand purpose quite often. But let’s not forget that (arguably with the exception of not-for-profit organisations) every business’ purpose is to sell. But obviously Brand Purpose as it has been coined refers to what purpose a brand plays and thrives to achieve in the society and demographics it serves and markets to. Brand Purpose is about values, mission, and beliefs that drive the brand’s personality, communication and in some cases, take a stance on social issues. Brand Purpose is quite powerful but can come with a risk and can backfire or at least create an air of negativity around the brand if execution is not on point and if the brand doesn’t fully embrace its new purpose – authentically. A good example is Gillette’s campaign confronting toxic masculinity. While some thought that the campaign did a good job, the reality of the matter that Gillette took a stance on a controversial topic that led to some buyers showing signs of disagreement and frustration like some men throwing away their already-purchased Gillette products. The collected data on the campaign by Crimson Hexagon don’t support the claim that the campaign had stirred any positive change across the brand’s main demographics – males, quite likely the opposite. Only the future can tell how their new adopted social stance and brand purpose has impacted their business. One thing we can agree with is that brand purpose sparks conversations and so if you get it right, you are more likely to create a buzz your brand needs. This is where focus groups and exceptional amount of objective controlled hypothesis testing is quite crucial to ensure that your brand purpose and messaging really hits home positively with your audience.

In the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, In Brands We Trust?, more than half of respondents (56 percent) said that too many brands are using societal issues as a marketing ploy. This means that consumers are seeing through brands’ moves as not genuine and not authentic. According to the same report, over half of respondents believe that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business yet only 21% claim to know from personal experience that the brands they use keep the best interests of society in mind.

So, should brands adopt a clear purpose in society? The answer is yes, only if it’s genuine and aligned with their audience values and brings about widely agreed positive change in society. Controversial topics where the society is split and haven’t yet figured out all the answers can backfire. But social issues that the majority are united behind, are gold when it comes to brand purpose.

Nail brand differentiation

In a recent study, Kantar analysed attitudinal and behavioural data which are showing that on average, consumers are willing to pay 14% more for brands they perceive to be “meaningfully different”. The difference between a business with high brand clarity and a business with low brand clarity is the contribution of the brand itself to sales going down from 17% to 10%. That’s a significant difference in what a brand can do to your business.

We all know differentiation is key. But it’s easier said than done. Differentiation starts with asking ‘why do we do what we do?’. Why are we in this business and what do we stand for and why? The answers will develop overtime but being clear on your ‘why’ is the first and foremost exercise you need to do to develop a strong sense of differentiation in your market from which your communications and tone of voice can develop so that you can resonate and relate with your target audience more effectively. Differentiation starts with your culture which is the collective beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, competencies and values that your entire work force has directed and inspired by the brand’s leaders. Differentiation is a work-in-progress as long as the business is in business. There is not a day your brand should not think about differentiation. The other important component to differentiation is how you communicate it to your consumers and target audience and customers.

Marketing that avoids ‘strategic ambiguity’ is marketing that conveys brand clarity and differentiation. Strategic ambiguity is the art of making a claim using language that avoids specifics. So, you can be purposefully vague to derive personal and organizational benefit. Your audience and especially millennials want to know what your brand values are and what issues you support and stand against. They also want to know why your brand solves their problems and enhances the quality of their lives. The more your communication uses words that are clear cut and not subject to interpretation, the more you have brand clarity and in turn, your audience relating more to your messaging and brand purpose which obviously trickles down to your business and financial KPIs.

How to approach brand awareness?

Brand awareness is one of the toughest areas in marketing to measure due to its qualitative nature by default. How do you define it and how do you measure it? At least those are the first questions I’ll ask when I think about brand awareness. Well, to measure it you need to define it and to define it. Brand awareness is the collective level of understanding and knowledge (conscious and subconscious) your target audience has about your brand. The keyword here is collective which means it’s comprised of multiple facets and angles at which we measure that understanding and knowledge. From another perspective, brand awareness is what your target audience can recall or think of when they hear or see your brand. And that’s a product of the sum of all the messages your brand and others have communicated to your audience overtime. Brand awareness is also how your customers feel when they think of you. It may not necessarily be clearly articulated by them – which is often true.

So, to measure brand awareness we need to consider main components. The first is perhaps more straightforward which is the global level of awareness your market, community and the target audience has about your existence, your mission, your products, services, etc. The second component is a bit more complex as you are essentially looking at a multi-factorial equation where your brand represents multiple ideas, representations, emotions that your audience think and feel when they think about you.

Be audacious with your brand awareness campaign!

Perhaps we can learn a few things from First Direct when they launched their first awareness campaign – competing with all the major banks in the UK with a quarter of their budget but making a dent in the banking world and growing their customer base to 200,000 customers in the first two years and later getting acquired by HSBC. What First Direct did with their brand awareness campaign was nothing shy of audacious, creative and daring. Their outdoor ads featured very little information combined with pictures of dull, everyday objects like a red washing basket with a tag line saying ‘banking without branches – it’s extraordinary’. Talk about daring to be different.

First Direct Brand Awareness CampaignSource: marketingweek.com

Brand tone of voice

Ever said something and then thought, well, I could have said it differently. You basically thought well that wasn’t properly communicated for whatever reason. It could have been your tone or choice of words weren’t congruent with how you felt or the situation itself. I wonder why people are aware of their tone of voice and how they come across sometimes more than brands do. A brand’s tone of voice reflects its personality and values. It helps you connect with your audience and gives you a chance at standing out from the rest. Your brand’s tone of voice is exposed all the time. Everything from Ad campaigns, social media, emails and virtually every media form including your leadership team voice as well as employees’; says something about your brand. And so, it’s quite important to invest not only in defining what your tone of voice is but also how to streamline it and ensures it’s quite clear in all forms of communication.

But why does it matter?

  • It builds a connection with your audience
  • It builds trust with your audience
  • It can increase your company’s revenue
  • It creates a memorable image of your brand

Successfully defined and implemented tone of voice brings attention to your content. More importantly, overtime, your audience can start to recognise your brand before they see your name or logo – as they engage with your content.

How do you create a successful brand tone of voice? Well it turns there is science to it. A tone of voice consists of 3 main components.

  • Etymology: Understanding which words are best suited for particular uses.
  • Sound: The sonic qualities of words — how they sound when pronounced.
  • Syntax: The arrangement of words and the structure of language.

But at the end of the day, your tone of voice needs to make your audience feel what you want them to feel which needs to be in line with your values and goals and strategy.

A classic example is the McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” or Nike’s “Just do it”. What is your tone of voice and why?

When do you do re-branding?

The market is forever changing with its consumers constantly changing habits, wants and needs. Brands’ success in this day and age is highly dependent on their ability to adapt and adjust to their markets. But there more than one reason you might find re-branding at your door. Perhaps your company is moving in territories or offering products they haven’t before. Generally speaking, the bigger your business becomes, the wider your audience will be and the more likely you will need to rebrand along the way.

The rebranding process will vary from one business to another but it all essentially starts with understanding the purpose of the rebranding and being clear on the objectives of it. A few key things to consider when re-branding is the buyer persona, what they aspire to see in your business, what motivates them and what is meaningful to them. After that, you can start assessing your current brand elements across your new updated buyer personas to determine the areas where there is a gap. It might be that your logo doesn’t resonate anymore or that the slogan or colours are outdated. Or it might be a complete rebrand including the name of the business. In all case, here is a list of things to make sure you go over during the rebranding process.

  • What are the objectives of this rebranding exercise?
  • What elements and components of my brand need to change?
  • Is this driven by a competitive landscape or market changes or specific business goals?
  • What is our brand story and how should it be told through our brand elements?
  • Are you compromising brand equity by doing this exercise?
  • What are your current buyers’ perceptions and attitudes towards your brand?
  • What would you like to change about their perceptions and why?
  • How do you foresee further brand changes or developments in the next 5 to 10 years?

Perhaps an unconventional move but left a great impact is P&G’s latest rebrand of Fairy to Fair to get people talking about LGBTQ+ rights. P&G is aiming to connect more with its younger audience values. A smart move! The new campaign includes a name change, rainbow-coloured logo, a video asking families to speak openly and positively about LGBTQ+ issues. This clearly establishes the brand’s position, personality, purpose and tone of voice. It’s a classic example of when a new campaign hits many birds with one stone and get a lot of people behind it.

Brent Miller, leader of LGBTQ+ communications at P&G says they wanted to do something that was going to be purpose driven and have a deep meaning for the community. The key important component here is authenticity in the activity which was identified to be particularly important for younger consumers who are quite open about their value systems and are quite motivated to engage with a brand that aligns with their values. For more details on the campaign, check Marketing Week’s post.

Rebranding is key when the brand and the business lose momentum and marketing share. In the case of Pizza Hut, this couldn’t be truer. Being an iconic classic that’s connected with people for so long, they needed to do it right. Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s chief brand officer explained that as they evolved, their tone changed and that they didn’t have a clear understanding of what they stood for. But after a period of ‘brand shyness’, the brand has changed its logo back to the geometric roof and heavy, slab serif type that ran for a several years up until 1999. Part of the rebrand strategy is to go back to its roots to reassert what it stands for an in a crowded QSR market. Alongside of the logo changes, they are starting to use a more bold tone of voice which was decided on when the company ran a qualitative research across 3,000 consumers who helped Pizza Hut understand that customers still see the brand as “the OG of the pizza category”. So, if they see that way, why not adopt that personality and tone of voice, right? Here is their new campaign.

Author avatar

Rani Arsanios

Founder and Managing Director of SAVV Digital, Rani Arsanios helps organisations grow their top and bottom line by enabling their digital transformation and presence through strategic digital marketing and technology solutions.

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