Somewhere between SEO and marketing automation, businesses are forgetting about branding. Yes, SEO carries the most fundamental aspect of branding – positioning. And yes, the funnel has become more sophisticated with predictive algorithms but where are those neurological, astronomical, tribal allegiances we used to hear about? Businesses grow because of their brand’s ability to be loved, accepted and trusted. So without further ado, here are 5 branding tips to improve your business for the long run:

1. Design a Ritual

Olympic torch

The torch lighting ceremony is by far the most iconic moment of any Olympic event. It is undoubtedly a ritual, which millions of people anticipate and look forward to. Would it shock you to know the Nazis came up with it? Luckily, this ritual’s positive aspirations were powerful enough to override its negative origins. And today, an Olympic ceremony just wouldn’t be the same without it. Still need clarity? Think of it this way, you may ignore Joshua Bell playing a $3.5 MM violin tomorrow morning  in the subway; however, you will still take the time to dunk an Oreo with your kid, drink your Starbucks cup of coffee and check your Twitter feed. These behaviours are what we call “brand rituals.” They are repetitive and predictable behaviours driven by brands, which give us a sense of control in our day-to-day lives. Whatever gives us a sense of control, gives us a sense of peace. Whatever gives us a sense of peace, gives us a sense of kinship. Brand rituals can bring powerful and positive changes to your business and society. What predictable behaviour can you create to help your customers?

2. Create Smashable Content

It was Martin Lindstrom who first introduced me to “smashable brands.” The term “smashable” goes back to the early 1900s when the Coca-Cola Company commissioned a designer to craft a bottle consumers would recognize as a Coke bottle, even if it were shattered. The same token of thought applies to what I call “smashable content.” Do you have brand-centric content, which can easily be spotted as yours? What happens if I put my hand over your URL and logo? Will I be able to tell it’s yours? One advice for creating smashable content is to focus on your brand voice. If you need more help Sable Harris has a great post on finding your brand voice, in 3 easy steps.

3. Create a Ripple Effect

I like to think of cross channel marketing as the ocean and branding as the stone. The stone should embody all that your brand stands for and each spot it bounces on should be a touch point. Often times, businesses scatter their stones (brand promises) across the ocean because they think media fragmentation doesn’t allow a transitional narrative. Two campaigns to look at for inspiration are Oreo’s Cookie Vs. Creme Super Bowl 2013 promo and Modern Family’s #MOFY outreach. There is also a great presentation by Alex Rascanu, which clarifies cross channel marketing and how to be effective with your resources.

4. Apply Semiotics

Buffer recently changed its home page and increased their landing page conversion by 16%. Brian Lovin, the man behind the change, noticed the old imagery was bloated and didn’t communicate Buffer’s story to its full extent.  Brian’s biggest contribution was changing the large imagery of a cloud with a widget inside, to a double sided cloud accompanied by 2 groups of icons – services and results. This new landing page not only suggests buffer automates the process for you but it also gets you results, such as retweets and facebook likes. The fundamentals of this practice is what we call “Semiotics.” Semiotics is a subject closely studied by anthropologists and one, which is highly valued by Fortune 500 companies. You can get acquainted with semiotic studies by reading a great post by Gavin Johnston.

5. Invest in Inbound Marketing

If David Ogilvy were alive today he would have probably started an inbound marketing agency. The man was notorious for testing consumer behaviour and coming up with headlines using research. Kind of like SEO … Even though Ogilvy was part of the Golden Age of Advertising many of his advice still ring true. Check out his cheat sheet on how to create advertising that sells. Of course with praise, comes criticism. The goliaths of the ad world ushered in the era of Interruption Marketing and we now live in the 21st century. Did you know Inbound Marketing now accounts for 90% of clicks on the web while Interruption Marketing only accounts for 10%? With inbound marketing you are leveraging trust with the consumer and no brand can exist without it. I think if Ogilvy were alive today he would tell you to invest in inbound marketing. After all he was the one who famously said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.”

What about you, do you have some branding tips you would like to share?

Image source: Hello Canada Magazine

Tagged with: Branding, content marketing, Inbound Marketing, rituals, semiotics

About Michael Ash

Michael Ash is a Brand-Centric Communications professional, who has over 5 years of experience in delivering results-based marketing ideas. He specializes in various aspects of print and digital brand development, including but not limited to: content marketing, social media and identity packages. He is currently the Graphics/Web Designer and Marketing Coordinator for Proveer.