Business is all about branding. It isn’t just the logo or the color scheme; it’s every first impression, every customer interaction and every little detail associated with your company. From the internet to in-person interactions, all of it is branding. In the digital world where users can access content at all hours of the day, in a dozen different ways, branding is paramount to a company’s survival.
Why, you ask? Because branding is also about relevance. In recent years, we’ve seen major brands go from iconic to obsolete because they couldn’t adapt. One example of this is American Apparel (whose doors closed forever last year), a brand that was once at the top of the food chain. It eventually fell flat because it just couldn’t appeal to customers in the way that it used to. While we mourn the absence of their colorful hoodies, we also celebrate the success of other brands who fared much better with the digital revolution.
These ten creative branding hacks will help your company evolve into the best version of itself and show you how to create a brand identity.
1: Sponsor YouTube Videos
5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day, and this number is only expected to grow with viewing rates increasing 60% year-over-year. This large audience is the why brands target this social platform so heavily. YouTube ads can be as short as 5 seconds or as long as 30 seconds, and (although it sucks for users) companies are able to generate millions of impressions through these campaigns. While many large corporations can afford to spend thousands of dollars on production for their video ad, for smaller businesses, there’s another option. You can always send YouTube influencers goodies for them to review.
In YouTube’s beauty community, this is the norm. For example, brands like Too Faced and Tarte Cosmetics send content creators new product releases for free. Sometimes free swag is a gamble. Without any direct communication with the channel creator, your products may or may not get mentioned. To ensure your brand gets the limelight it deserves, partner with a content creator so they can specifically create promotional content for your brand on their channel.
These partnerships are great because creators get to add their own personal twist to the content. By doing this, your brand gets to reach a very niche audience. This is a great way to become a challenger brand because influencers on this scale have close relationships with their subscribers. In a couple months, you could also become a cult brand that influencers and users alike can become fierce advocates for. For new users, this partnership is what makes your business unique and what makes your business stand out from the rest. A successful example of this kind of branding hack can be seen in Sophia Chang’s collaboration with Herbal Essences. Now all you have to do is find an influencer you want to partner with!
2: Host an Event
If you’re a small company trying to break through, one of the best ways to introduce your brand to the world is by hosting an event. Put the event on Facebook and tell your friends to invite their friends. A week before the big day, try boosting your event post to increase impressions and generate a couple more reservations from new faces!
You can also post your event to Eventbrite to reach their 50+ million active ticket buyers. Events are one of the best branding tips for small businesses because you can create real relationships with your audience. When preparing for the day, make sure to create a hashtag users can post on their social media to generate even more brand awareness during and long after the event has ended.
3: Give Your Users a Free Pass
When trying to generate brand awareness, nothing does it better than the word free. But to hand out free stuff in the age of the internet requires a little more strategy than just standing on a street corner giving out swag. Engage with users while promoting free products or services. This is a great opportunity to build your social following and gain more leads to your website.
Prompt users to follow your social accounts in order to receive your latest wares. Have users visit your recently updated website for 2018 and ask them to sign up for your mailing list before they’re able to receive a new t-shirt. For users, they get a new toy. For brands, you get invaluable contact information and communication channels to your audience.
4: Utilize Influencers to Reposition Your Brand
Companies like Uber and Macy’s are bending over backwards to find a new position in the current market. Why? To attract customers. In recent years, we’ve seen the complete reconstruction of major brands to appeal to younger audiences. What better way to do that than by targeting social celebrities? Calvin Klein launched campaign after campaign targeting major celebs like Justin Bieber to reinstate its “cool” factor and attract a younger audience. Doing so resulted in a 13% rise in sales from the previous year! Reposition your brand by using influencers to appeal to a new audience.
5: Change Your Name and Your Logo
It may be time to change your name and logo. For many companies, this is ludicrous, but it has actually been successfully done before! ABC Family did a top to bottom renovation, adopting a new look under the name of Freeform. They recognized their name and branding weren’t working for the market they wanted to reach, so they changed it.
Freeform delivers entirely the same content ABC Family did prior to the change: Harry Potter weekends, teen television series and great 90s movies like Matilda can all still be viewed on the channel. The brand is just doing it under a new name, logo and look. A change to this degree is what will make your business stand out because it shows consumers that you’re willing to adapt to the times.
6: Take It to the Streets
Street art has come alive in the mainstream media. Shepard Fairey is one of the best examples of this. He’s the designer who created the Obey Giant and the famous Obama Hope poster. In an interview with AIGA, Fairey said he works “[a]s a graphic designer these days which came about because the work I was putting on the street created enough of a buzz that companies began to feel it would resonate enough to be used for marketing. ” From street artist, to political activist, to marketing wizard, maybe it’s time your brand started investing in old-school art.
7: Create Brand Champions
LinkedIn now boasts over 467 million members and LinkedIn Publishing is turning into one of the major hubs for news from brands. One of the best tips for personal branding is incidentally also one of the best business branding tips: become a champion on LinkedIn by publishing original content. This is how marketing mavens like Gary Vaynerchuk are able to grow their following while increasing brand awareness for their company. They become individual voices advocating for a larger brand. Gary writes:
Whether you’re a small business or a massive corporation, you need to start thinking about business as a long-term relationship, not a single transaction. Branding is the reason there are so many 22 and 29 year olds that want to do work with me. It’s because I care and I’ve built trust. Everything I do is about building a brand. It’s about sharing my narrative and documenting my success. I’ve built a real business. I have real clients. I don’t need to sell you!
Instead of focusing on selling anything, Gary Vaynerchuk offers some of the best branding advice that is to simply make branding your priority.
8: Align Your Company with a Social Mission
Consumers respect brands that take on social agendas — this is especially true for younger generations. In a report done by CNBC, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé said, “If you look at the millennials, they are the first generation now who are willing consciously to spend more for better quality, for sustainability, for traceability.” There is a clear appeal to being socially conscious because consumers want to feel good about purchasing your products and services.
An easy way to dip your toes into this kind of branding is to try a company volunteer day. Create a post on social media promoting the event and see how your users respond. Take inspiration from companies like Toms, who has charity in its mission. This tactic isn’t just good for your brand, it’s also great for the global community as well.
9: Have a Laugh
Not everything about branding has to be serious. If you want to take a light-hearted approach to your content, use humor! Nike recently launched its Choose Go campaign, and the commercial is as effective as it is hilarious. Give your users a good laugh while still producing promotional content.
10: Focus on Your Users
If you want to know how to make your online business stand out, focus on UX. This is one of the most critical branding design tips to pay attention to because, as technology evolves, users will focus on their experience while visiting websites. This is an integral part of your brand strategy because UX is as close as you’ll get to delivering ambiance to your consumers through the internet. How does your color scheme come off? Is it welcoming or uninviting? What does your typography say about your brand’s personality? How does the overall design come across in a first impression? Focusing on these details will bring a steady stream of users going back to your business because you’re delivering something other companies won’t — an experience.
Hopefully these ten examples of how your brand can stand out have given you ideas on what you can do to enhance your brand strategy. Branding is so much more than meets the eye, and if done right, you can generate loyal customers for life. Here are the ten tips one more time:
- Sponsor YouTube videos to reach a niche audience
- Host an event to build brand awareness
- Give your users free access in exchange for vital customer information
- Utilize influencers to reposition your brand and reach a new audience
- Change your name and logo to better brand your content
- Use street art to add flavor to your company
- Empower individuals within your company to empower your brand
- Align your company with a social mission to bring more to your community
- Don’t take everything so seriously and make your consumers laugh
- Focus on UX to deliver the ultimate branding experience
Good luck and let us know if our brand identity services can help launch your next project!