As Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes brand content creation (and even brand creation) so easily accessible, good brand marketing is vital to differentiate your organisation meaningfully from the competition.
Customer interactions with brands have also evolved dramatically, and businesses must adapt to stay relevant, maintain positive associations and remain competitive.Your brand should seek to create a unique identity that resonates with its target audience and seed its brand presence effectively – and here are 4 best practices to pursue this year.
1. Avoid being 100% Reliant on Ads
While advertising might help you achieve short-term goals like increasing reach, clicks, or conversions, it may not be the most efficient (or sustainable) approach to seed your brand’s identity in the long term.
Consumers perceive advertising messages as lacking in credibility. If your brand relies heavily on paid advertising, it means that most of its messaging output is currently being perceived as forced and less authentic. Regardless of how poignant your brand messaging is, these perceptions can get in the way of building that emotional connection with consumers.
Paid ads are also limited by your advertising budget and the available advertising audience on the specific advertising platform. Here in Singapore, over 42% of audiences prefer to remain anonymous when using online services and almost 31% of them use an ad blocker. These practically limit the reach of your ads to 70% of the population and also reduce the effectiveness of advertising. To build deep brand resonance with a wider audience is practically impossible with paid advertising alone.
Before throwing ad dollars at putting your brand presence out there, focus on building your organic content on your social media and website. Additionally, practising Content Syndication by getting your knowledge pieces published on relevant publications and external content partners gives you a leg up in building brand trust, while helping you reach a wider, relevant audience.
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are another effective channel to explore for you to widen the reach of your brand – and yes, they are still relevant, especially when marketing to Gen Z. If you have developed the knack for spotting up-and-coming ‘talent’ who are rapidly gaining popularity but have yet to be picked up by the larger influencer or talent management agencies, you can find this extremely cost efficient – tools like the TikTok Creator Marketplace help democratise access to influencer talents with useful filtering mechanics to help you find the right content creators bring your brand message to life.
When engaging KOLs, you should first assess their suitability based on size (and demographics) of following to project if your brand can potentially be seen by a good number of intended audiences. Importantly, take their engagement rate into account – this is a great indicator of how relatable they are to their audiences, and how responsive (or indifferent) audiences are to the content they put out.
The final qualifier would be alignment between the KOL’s personalities and your brand’s image – observe how (or if) they respond to comments. This should be done in a manner consistent with your brand’s image. Working with KOLs thereafter is a fine art of balancing your brand messaging requirements with their personalities – overly strict brand messaging templates regurgitated by influencers come across as forced and ingenuine, while unmanaged influencer content risks misrepresenting your products/services, or even offending your target audiences / existing customers as they push boundaries.
2. Diversify Your Brand Presence, Measure and Keep Voice Consistent
New digital platforms are being introduced to the interweb every single day. As a brand marketer, your job should be to spot growing platforms and ride their hype to leverage their increasing popularity among your target audiences for growth in your brand reach.
Fun fact: TikTok is the fastest growing channel for product discovery!
As your brand expands its presence into multiple platforms like TikTok, XiaoHongShu and Lemon8, its brand voice should remain consistent across all platforms (e.g. website, marketplace listings, social media, chat apps etc) to make a lasting impression on customers – both existing and potential. Of course, you can make slight adjustments to the tone of voice and topics covered as you transition between platforms, based on the overall content styles of these platforms and their key users’ content preferences.
Many brand marketers tend to forget that their efforts should be quantifiable if they intend to get buy-ins and sizable budget allocations from clients and management. Before you hop onto a new digital or social media platform, find out more about the reporting functions that they provide. Some key performance indicators to quantify your brand marketing efforts and their associated metrics include:
- Brand Awareness – Brand Recall, Viewable Impressions, Reach etc
- Brand Consideration – Clicks, Video View Percentage, Surveys for more qualitative findings etc
- Customer Satisfaction, Brand Sentiment, Brand Performance, Brand Salience & Net Promoter Score – Surveys covering aspects like CSAT / NPS etc
- Brand Loyalty – Follower growth / unfollowing rate, engagement and interaction rates etc
Evaluate the reporting and polling functions of these platforms – are they able to support you in quantifying the effects of your brand marketing efforts? Also consider if the reporting functions on these platforms are able to sync with your organisations existing reporting and data visualisation platforms (e.g. Google Looker Studio, Power BI etc) and if not, consider (and budget for) the effort and tools required to integrate these together.
On that note, with the sun-setting of Universal Analytics (UA), hop on Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to start tracking events on your website that reveal how well your brand, its content and its touchpoints are resonating with your audience and impacting the quality and experience of your website and app users.
GA4 has been touted to provide a more robust analytics experience with the ability to measure various types of data, bridging the gap between your website and app in your customer journeys and tapping on Google’s machine learning AI to provide insights on user behaviour and conversions.
3. Remember That Your Customers Are Key To Your Brand
Image from Smile.io
Building a great, strong brand community can fuel your business’ growth – and that it is always more affordable to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. As reaching new audiences and converting them into followers and customers becomes increasingly expensive and challenging, we encourage you to look to your existing followers and customers for ways to improve their Lifetime Value (LTV) through building brand advocates among them.
Image from Android Authority on TikTok stitch
Image from Meta on Instagram Remi/Stitch
One way of humanising your brand and tapping on your existing followers / engaged audiences is by designing repurposable material to facilitate their creation of User Generated Content (UGC), especially on social media.
In relation to specific social media platforms, this can come in the form of audio clips you provide for audiences to repurpose into creating their own content, or publishing branded video content that is planned to inspire and perfectly complement remixed / stitched video content that your audiences can create on Instagram Reels and TikTok.
A strong brand community helps in seeding repurposable content like this, and incidentally, a good, continuous exchange of UGC like this creates a loop of growth for your brand communities on social media.
UGC plays a crucial role in inspiring (or discouraging) purchase – 79% of consumers say that it has a significant impact on their purchasing decision. Social media listening should be employed, not only to measure the effects of your UGC initiatives, but also to pick out any negative or potentially damaging UGC pieces that you can respond to before a PR crisis emerges.
Likewise, monitoring your customer’s satisfaction on your own brand website through surveys facilitated by user experience management tools on Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs) can collect feedback to help you determine what content appeals to your customers, and what does not.
As brand marketers, you can also consider hopping on to existing CSAT surveys in a bid to amp them up into more meaningful interactions by inserting an opportunity to encourage UGC. For example:
“We are celebrating the 15th anniversary of our first product version – are you still using it? Show us a photo of it in use!”
4. Build Confidence in This Climate of Fear
According to a Deloitte study, over 40% of Millennials and Gen Zs are stressed out by their long and short term financial prospects, and more than half of them are not optimistic about current efforts to protect and sustain the health of the environment.
Here in Singapore, over 60% of adults are concerned about what is real vs what is fake on the internet.
With that in mind, your brand should endeavour to project authenticity and genuine care in its brand messaging in a concerted effort to build trust among its audiences, across its digital presence and with its content partners. 71% of TikTok viewers say that a creator or influencer’s authenticity motivated them to buy from a brand. Tackle timely issues in your content and always consider your audiences’ potential worries, concerns and information; your brand should be able to relate to these worries and ally itself with its audiences.
You can also consider taking this a step further – according to a study by TikTok, the secret to persuading 41% of users to make a purchase is the use of (tasteful) humour. You may have to remain wary of cheapening your brand with ‘lame’ humour; instead, offer valuable content packaged in an appealing, lighthearted format that can build up your brand’s image and engage meaningfully with audiences.
To quote Stephen King, “A product can be quickly outdated, but a successful brand is timeless,”.
Brand marketers should continue to focus on strengthening their brand presence regardless of the climate to bolster long-term business success. This requires you to adapt to the changing landscape, invest in creating meaningful interactions, align with your audiences’ media usage and be sensitive to the worries and concerns of your audiences.
Does your brand need a boost to build or improve its brand presence, CRM, organic content, search presence or TikTok efforts? Speak with Clickr today!
We hope this has been insightful and enjoyable! We would also love to hear your feedback or suggestions – do share them with us.