So I'm about to step into a new position at a bootstrapped SaaS startup with a great product but nothing in the way of branding. I'm looking to put together a backlog of solid branding or brand building ideas to experiment with and implement over the coming months.
Came across this article that goes into some nice detail on branding strategies used by big corporates that can be adapted for small biz. Will include some notes I took below.
But would most prefer to hear from your experience - What is the single most effective branding campaign or initiative you've driven?
1. Take a position – Establish your character through aligned communications across all touchpoints
2. Stick to strong brand standards – Create a strong brand identity by clearly defining brand look and feel
3. Develop an authentic voice - Being genuine is more important than being professional (especially when you're a startup)
4. Reward customer loyalty - The first few customers are everything, do whatever it takes to help, surprise, delight and astonish them. Also coupons and points
5. Get users involved - Incentivize users to mention you on social media
6. Use emotional words and imagery to connect with audiences around certain times of the year and at events.
7. Tell better stories - And align them with audience values (e.g. TOMS shoes)
8. Listen more - And prioritize customer success. Go out of your way to solve customers' problems. Monitor keywords on social with apps like Mention and Tweetdeck
9. Use influencers - And develop relationships with them over social channels. Try to find ways to help them get their message out.
10. Cross promote - Find a business talking to your audience and propose things like co-creating a content resource, starting up a Meetup or conference together, giving customers specials on each other's products.
11. Use video - Your audience is probably consuming more video than you think. Can be an explainer video or video tutorials solving problems in your space.
Remember this key insight: branding is NOT your logo, slogan, colors, etc. (though all of those are a piece of it). It is the prospect or customer's experience of you. Which means that great customer service will build the brand while lousy customer service will undermine you no matter how much money you throw at telling the world how great they are. As an example, when we think of Southwest Airlines, we think much more about the customer-centric attitude and maybe the one-liners from the cabin crew, before we think about the swooshes of color. When we think of Whole Foods, we think of it as a place to get quality natural foods at a premium price, and only then does the green and white color scheme come into our brains. Trader Joe's is a place to get natural foods at lower prices, and only then do we remember the Hawaiian shirts. Negative stories stay with us even more than positive ones. My first association with United Airlines is the mocking video, "United Breaks Guitars" (seen by over 13 million people last time I checked). My first association with Ford is with the customer-last safety stories of the Pinto and Explorer, even though the more recent of those issues is almost 30 years old. Only afterward do I remember their progress on the environment, etc. So the best branding advice I can give you is to imagine your mom as your customer. Treat everyone as you'd want her to be treated. And then you can figure out the positioning--which (as a marketing guy since the 1970s) I can help you with, BTW.
A lot of interesting perspectives here.
One quick note on a comment below - "branding is secondary to positioning" - in my / our firm's opinion, positioning *is part of branding* and there really isn't any other way to go about it. The strategy leads the visual identity / manifestation in the world.
However, back to the question - asking which "strategy" is most powerful is like asking someone which of their children they like the best. The most powerful brand tools / assets tend to be the simplest and clearest, ones that fit the client perfectly and resonate with audiences.
Also, some might argue that the list above is more on the "tactics" side (which is 100% fine and relevant and useful), but not quite "strategy" - which is sometimes a difficult line to draw - but committing to your firm's definition of it can pay off handsomely in the long run.
Hope that helps.
Branding is secondary to positioning. Have you decided how you want to position you company and your product?