The current commercial landscape is often one of intense competition. No matter what industry you are operating within, the rise of the digital age has brought with it not just greater access to efficient tools, but also more new entrepreneurs that can connect with the global consumer pool.
Among a bustling marketplace of competitors, you don’t have a lot of time to grab the attention of an online audience and demonstrate that what you have to offer is unique and worthy of their long-term loyalty. Your ability to effectively use branding techniques and tools can mean the difference between making a meaningful impact or disappearing among the masses.
However, as marketing trends are often developing and shifting, it can be difficult to know what the best approach is for the current moment. So, let’s examine what you can do to build effective branding in 2021.
Relevant Voice and Image
One of the most important elements of your brand is establishing a consistent voice and image that can resonate with your demographic. This gives potential consumers something to connect with, a reliable presence in an otherwise uncertain marketing landscape.
Your considerations here need to include:
Creating a relevant voice and image for your brand isn’t necessarily about a cynical attempt to lure in younger consumers by aping their language. Neither is it about giving the impression that your business is their friend that they can hang out with. The consumers of 2021 are savvier than a lot of businesses give them credit for, and they can spot inauthentic attempts to connect from a mile away. Indeed, studies have shown that — for Gen-Z and Millennials in particular — credibility and solid values are priorities.
As such, you must take a closer look at your own values, and understand where they and those of your target audience meet. Use these insights to inform the type of relationship you want to have with your consumers, and build your branding around this. Consider how you can bolster your shared ethical priorities. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun with them via your social channels, but do so in a way that rings true.
People aren’t usually so shallow that they’ll dump your brand based on whether you have a great logo. But your graphic choices need to both reflect your voice and reassure your audience that you are cognizant of the needs of today’s consumers. If you are basing your brand voice and mission around simplicity and customer service, make certain that your materials and website immediately suggest this.
This process doesn’t have to be complex, but if you’re running a small business and don’t have experience in this area, it’s worth brushing up on some of the fundamentals of graphic design to understand how to translate your voice to your image. There is a range of online courses available that walk you through the processes and theories that lead to more relevant and successful design choices. Take this knowledge, and apply it not just to your logo and website, but your social media images and mailouts — use it to connect with 2021’s consumers.
Understand Your Audience
While some consistent elements can help to build an effective brand in 2021, it’s important to also remember that consumers today are looking for more personalized experiences. You need to be able to demonstrate that you appreciate their needs and have something to offer that enhances their lives. To create branding that presents this effectively, you need to understand your audience.
Your approach should include:
We live in a world that is driven and enhanced by big data. Almost everything people do, particularly as smart devices have become more prevalent, captures data on activities and preferences. This is a valuable resource for gaining insights into how you can adjust your branding to meet the changing needs of your demographic. Not to mention that s data analysis for market research purposes has become increasingly accessible, your competitors are likely to already be using it to bolster their brands.
If you’re not confident about undertaking market research analysis yourself, it can be smart to engage a professional analyst as part of your team. They will conduct regular qualitative and quantitative studies on the most relevant datasets for your branding and marketing goals. Their problem-solving skillsets and marketing expertise, combined with artificial intelligence (AI) driven software to produce reports that outline the most up-to-date insights into your target consumers, and work with you to understand how this can be applied to your branding.
As 2021 is likely to see trends toward greater personalization continue, you mustn’t take a static approach to your branding. Your branding efforts need to reflect the fact that you are likely to have a dynamic audience, who won’t all have the same needs all of the time. This doesn’t mean to say that you have to personalize a campaign to each customer, but it can be helpful to create subgroups of your demographic, known as buyer personas.
Based on your market research, build a few different personas, divided by their various preferences, their differing social media channel presences, their pain points, even their geographical locations. Then you can create some variations on your branding that reflect these, and help you to make brand engagements with a wider range of consumers.
One of the stand-out aspects of building a brand in 2021 is that it is not enough to simply rely on a single marketing method. In a commercial landscape that increasingly seeks to combine real-life experiences with digital tools, you need to focus on multimedia approaches.
This starts with the type of content you are producing. You should already know that quality marketing content can impact everything from brand messaging to search engine optimization (SEO). It’s also important to understand that, particularly when you’re pitching to Millennial and Gen-Z digital natives, you should be giving them opportunities to consume the content in ways that are most entertaining and convenient for them. Create engaging videos — not just advertorial, but encourage interaction through sharing of user-generated contributions. Produce blog posts that are both informative and credible. Make podcasts that see you collaborating with cultural leaders they respect.
However, it’s just as important not to neglect the physical environment when taking a multimedia approach. While digital branding reaches consumers through more actively engaging ways, you can take advantage of passive engagement by making your brand a physical presence in their lives. While you can certainly connect through individual elements such as billboards and packaging, you’ll generally find it more effective to have your physical branding work in conjunction with your digital, rather than treating them as two separate species. Use physical branding in popular locations to direct consumers to digital channels, repeat your messaging across social media and TV advertising to reinforce them.
The commercial landscape of 2021 continues to change, therefore you need to take a branding approach that is supported and informed by current data and relevant messaging. It is also increasingly clear that businesses benefit when their branding demonstrates a desire to make authentic, personal connections to consumers. Through excellent research, attention to your voice, and a commitment to multimedia you can make a significant impact this year.