Every company wants their product to be successful, but without effective brand marketing, even the best products can fail. In the world of high-growth B2B businesses, there are three key functions on the marketing org chart: growth marketing, product marketing, and brand marketing. Think of product and brand marketing as the "fuel" that powers growth marketing, which acts as the "engine" that propels the company forward towards its growth targets.
In this article, we'll look at the connection between brand marketing, successful product launches, and what drives future demand.
The role of brand marketing
So what exactly is brand marketing? At its core, it's the process of creating a unique identity and voice for your business. This involves developing a brand message, positioning your business in the marketplace, and building a cohesive visual identity through distinctive design assets such as logos, colour schemes, typeface, imagery, forms, website design and packaging.
By investing in brand marketing, businesses can create a strong and emotional connection with their target audience. This emotional resonance is what drives consumer loyalty, resulting in repeat business and positive word-of-mouth marketing. Without brand marketing, businesses risk being overlooked in the marketplace and struggling to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Understanding brand marketing
But it's not just about standing out - brand marketing plays a critical role in the long-term success of any product or service. It serves as the foundation for a business to establish its unique identity in the market, create awareness, and drive future demand.
Firstly, a well-defined brand identity, which encompasses a company's values, personality, and mission statement, provides a strong foundation for all marketing efforts. This makes it easier for customers to recognize and connect with the business, building trust and establishing a positive reputation.
Secondly, an effective activation campaign helps to create customer awareness, educate buyers and build memories linking a brand to key buying situations. This generates excitement and anticipation for a product launch, creating a buzz and attracting future customers.
Finally, building brand loyalty is crucial for sustained success. By consistently delivering on promises, businesses can foster a deep sense of trust and loyalty with their customers. Brand marketing can help cultivate this relationship by communicating the brand's values, mission, and personality, creating an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service itself.
Successful brands that achieve cult-like status create a sense of connection not only with their customers but also among them. By tapping into consumers' sense of identity and values, brands build a community that transcends the product itself. This allows businesses to build a loyal customer base that is emotionally invested in the brand's success.
Building a strong brand
The first step to building a strong brand is learning from your current and future customers. You need to understand who your target audience is, what they want, and how the product or service fits into their lives. This can be achieved by conducting surveys and interviews, seeking input from industry experts and competitors' customers (if possible), or even by tapping into your network of friends and peers who fit your best customers' audience to get their feedback on their experiences with similar products or services.
Next comes crafting an engaging story — the "brand narrative". This narrative should tell people why they should buy from you instead of your competitors, why this product matters, and why it's something worth paying money for now. In short — How does this product positively change their lives? What difference does it make to them? Why should anyone care?
Once you've got your story straightened out, then comes crafting a unique visual identity that expresses the brand narrative in a way that's visually appealing, memorable, and accurately reflects your customer's experience with the product/service.
Leveraging brand marketing for product launches
Making a brand synonymous with your product is the key to successful launches. A strong brand can drive sales growth and generate demand for new products, whether they are entirely new or simply an upgrade of an existing one.
To ensure you leverage your brand for launch success, it's important to incorporate its messaging and imagery in the lead-up to launch day. The goal is to drive anticipation and create a buzz around your product by serving your message through social media, paid ads, email marketing campaigns and other tactics that showcase what makes your company unique (brand activation) while highlighting any conversion offers that are available during this time (sales activation).
Campaigns centered on "influencers," who have amassed large followings through their own channels are another effective strategy for reaching new audiences and converting potential consumers into paying ones (YouTube channels are especially useful here).
Maintaining brand consistency
Keeping your brand consistent across all channels is essential to maintaining a positive experience for your customers. Whether you're launching a new product or service, maintaining the integrity of your messaging is critical to success.
In order to maintain consistency across all marketing materials, it's important that you clearly understand what makes up your brand and how those values align with one another. This includes:
- Mission statement — What are we here for? Why do we exist? How do we want people to feel when they interact with us?
- Values — What do we believe in as an organization (or team)? How does this translate into our culture, behaviour and decision-making processes?
Once you establish these foundational pieces, it becomes easier to monitor how well each piece of content aligns with these statements.
Measuring the success of brand marketing
Measuring the success of brand marketing is a critical part of the process. Brand marketing efforts should be evaluated and adjusted based on performance data so that you can identify what works and what doesn't and make improvements accordingly.
You should create a brand health tracker to measure how well your messaging resonates with customers, as well as other metrics such as brand awareness, brand attitude, mental availability, and customer loyalty scores (e.g., Net Promoter Score).
Decoding brand marketing: Lessons from high-growth businesses
Let's take a closer look at how four high-growth tech companies, Slack, Airtable, Klarna, and CoachHub, have leveraged brand marketing to drive product launches and demand and what lessons we can learn from their success.
Here are the different brand marketing tactics and lessons learned from the early days of each of these companies:
Slack's brand marketing tactics
- Focused on the simplicity and ease of their messaging platform, with a tagline of “Where Work Happens”.
- Utilized humorous marketing campaigns that resonated with their target audience and differentiated themselves from competitors.
- Established a unique visual identity with bold colors and typography that created a memorable and recognizable brand.
Lessons learned from Slack:
- Effective branding can differentiate a company in a crowded market and drive brand advocacy.
- Humorous marketing campaigns can help to create an emotional connection with customers and generate buzz.
- Consistency in visual branding can help establish a confident identity.
Airtable's brand marketing tactics
- Emphasized the flexibility and ease of use of their database platform, with messaging that emphasized “freedom to create”.
- Created a unique visual identity with illustrations and animations that showcased the creativity and customization of their platform.
- Utilized content marketing, including webinars and blog articles, to educate potential customers and build trust in their brand.
Lessons learned from Airtable:
- Clear and compelling value proposition-centred messaging can boost customers' product understand.
- Unique visual branding can make a brand stand out and be memorable.
- Thoughtful content marketing can establish a brand as an authority and build trust.
Klarna's brand marketing tactics
- Focused on the convenience and ease of their payment system, with messaging that emphasized “smooth payments”.
- Utilized social media influencers and partnerships to promote their brand and appeal to a younger demographic.
- Created a unique visual identity with bright colors and playful designs that set them apart from traditional financial services companies.
Lessons learned from Klarna:
- Emphasizing convenience and ease can resonate with customers and drive adoption.
- Partnerships and influencer marketing can help a brand reach a wider audience and build credibility.
- A unique visual identity can help a brand stand out in a crowded category.
CoachHub's brand marketing tactics
- Focused on the personalized coaching and development opportunities their platform provides, with messaging that emphasized “individual growth”.
- Utilized content marketing, including webinars and blog posts, to educate potential customers and build trust in their brand.
- Established a unique visual identity with illustrations and animations that emphasized the human connection and personalization of their coaching platform.
Lessons learned from CoachHub:
- Clear messaging that emphasizes a unique value proposition can help customers understand the benefit of a product.
- Thoughtful content marketing can establish a brand as an authority and build trust with customers.
- A visual identity that emphasizes the human connection can resonate with customers and help build emotional connections.
Don’t skimp on brand marketing
Your brand is not a substitute for a great product and solid business fundamentals, but it can be a game-changer for both. Companies that nail both their product and brand experience consistently outperform those with a great product but a weak brand. By prioritizing brand marketing early on, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and build a loyal following that fuels growth. So don't underestimate the power of branding - it could be the secret sauce that takes your business to the top and keeps you there.