How To Brand Successfully in the 21st Century

There can be no question that the way to develop, launch and run a brand has changed dramatically in the last several years. In the last decade as technology has advanced at lightning speed and all of our culture has changed along with it, what is means to design and implement a brand has undergone a dramatic evolution. Like any time of dramatic change, keeping up with the steadily shifting landscape of how to brand has been a challenge, but one that the best and most successful companies have embraced with open arms. Equally important is an intelligent sense of restraint in the face of such drastic changes, and a keen ability to differentiate between game-changing innovation and fads. Therefore, the most successful brands are those who can balance a clear sense of identity and consistency with the intelligence and flexibility to embrace change.

No matter what market area you specialize in, your brand is capable of embodying these qualities and becoming successful. By following several key steps during the brand development process, you can be sure to create a brand that is both smart and dynamic, capable of maintaining a strong, familiar core while changing with the needs of your clients.

Know Your Target Market

Getting to know your primary target audience as well as possible is a key first step towards developing an excellent brand. You want your brand to appeal to your target market, that serves their needs in terms of the products and services that you offer, and that has an image and a voice that members of your target market can relate to. The best ways to get to know your target market are:

  • Market Research
    Take the time to do studies, surveys and research. Discover who your market it and develop and intimate knowledge of your needs, so that when you develop your brand and your products, you will always have their needs in mind.
  • Stay Engaged
    Doing research at the beginning of the process only gives you a snapshot or your target audience, one that will change and grow over time. Be sure to check in regularly with your target audience, stay attentive to their changing needs and demographic, so that you can shift and change along with them while never alienating your present client base.
  • Be Accessible
    Your best source of information on your target market is the members themselves. Stay alert and be attentive to the feedback that you receive. Make it easy for your target audience to get in touch with you, reward them for doing so and make sure they know that you are listening. Your target audience is an invaluable source of information, so treat them as such.

How To be Accessible As A Brand

One of the most exciting – and most exhausting! — ways that culture has changed recently is the explosion of ways that people are able to get in touch with each other via technology. Rather than just print ads, radio and television, advertising has had to adapt to the market of the internet via web pages, online feeds, and mobile devices. People no longer only communicate via phone, text or email, but also through a wide range of social media. It is crucial for any brand to be aware of the way that people communicate, and to make sure that your brand has an active and engaged presence on all of the various platforms that the members of your target market value the most.

More Than Image: Brand Personality

When most companies think about brand, they think about the image of their brand: that is the look and feel of the brand, the design concerns of it. This can include things like colour and flow, font and theme, and extend to everything from signage to letterhead. As technology has evolved, the look of brands has had to evolve to incorporate new forms, such as internet ads, email newsletters, mobile apps and social media profiles.

But even more than the look of the brand, technology has affected the way brands are represented and perceived in even more important ways. Your target audience now has a whole new series of ways to get in touch with you. Not only do they expect to be able to interact with your brand via the formal customer service channels of email and telephone, but they also expect brands to respond via social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. When you interact with clients and your target market via social media, you are doing so publicly, in a forum where anyone can see what you have to say. This means that the language that you use, the strategies you employ and the protocol for interacting with your audience are all part of your brand.

This has led to the absolute necessity of brands developing not only a consistent look and feel, but also a personality. This includes everything from the tone you use to interact with your audience to the language that you use. Whatever lexicon and feeling you ultimate develop as your brand’s personality – whether formal and staid or casual and friendly – it should be consistent as your brand’s imagery, and tailored to the needs and preferences of your target audience.

Your Brand’s Voice

With all the changes that have happened int he last few years, both in terms of technological advances and culture as a whole, there is no question that branding in the 21st century means something very different from what it did only a decade ago. But along with these changes and challenges have come incredible opportunities. With the proliferation of new ways to stay in contact with your target market, your brand has never had a larger audience nor more opportunities to learn about your potential market than we do right now. The most successful brands operating today are those who can take advantage of all the new technologies and means of communication to give their brand and strong, powerful and unique voice.

 

About the Author

Matthew Goulart

Matthew Goulart is the founder of Ignite Digital, a Canadian digital marketing agency. Through Ignite Digital, Goulart works with Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies from around the world and has helped launch profitable and highly successful digital marketing initiatives for his clients.