As denizens of the ad industry, we’ve all had the important task of honing a brand identity impressed upon us; it’s advertising 101. The elements that distinguish your brand in the market - the colors, design, logo - help to provide it with a distinct individuality in the minds of consumers. In the age of instantaneous connections and media fragmentation, though, it’s no longer enough to cultivate an easily identifiable brand. You need to make your brand accessible to your audience.
Brand accessibility is all about consistency when it comes to communication with consumers. No matter where they interact with your brand, consumers should receive the same information in a consistent format. Along with consistency, your brand also needs to feel open and available. Your audience should feel like they’re interacting with you in real-time, that your brand not only exists in the same moment in time as them but that you are willing to engage with them.
We get it...brand accessibility can be somewhat of an ambiguous concept to pin down. If you haven't dedicated conscious effort to it, it’s difficult to know if your brand truly feels accessible to consumers or not. When it does, however, you start to notice several benefits:
Brand Loyalty: Whenever consumers return to your brand over and over again, that’s loyalty. When you’re able to inspire loyalty to your brand, you’re essentially creating brand advocates who will spread the good word about your company for you in their social circles. This phenomenon is called word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing by media connoisseurs. WOM is tough to generate or control, but when it happens, it’s pretty special.
Brand Trust: Similar to loyalty is how much consumers trust a brand. Consumers are increasingly wary of any brand’s marketing efforts. What they’re looking for in your brand’s communications is assurance that they won’t be wasting their money or time. If you can immediately and confidently communicate yourself to your audience, you leave less room for uncertainty while increasing their peace-of-mind. You’ll know they trust your brand when they keep coming back.
Streamlined Marketing and Sales Activities: When you don’t have a clear picture of your brand and your audience, it can really put a wrench in your marketing efforts. When you commit to accessible branding, not only will you understand who you are, but so will your consumers. If you consistently communicate your value all along the marketing journey, you won’t need to waste so much time proving your value to each new lead. This will help you generate more sales by streamlining conversion timelines and allowing you to better allocate marketing resources.
Advertising 101: How to be Accessible
We’ve mentioned that brand accessibility is all about consistency, but what does that mean in practice? How do you actually adopt this kind of strategy? Here are a few tactics:
Build Buzz: Constantly create new content around your brand to encourage sharing and engagement. There are many ways you can go about this such as contests, freebies, philanthropic campaigns and other stunts. A good example of a buzz building endeavor that cultivated more accessibility was that Share-A-Coke promotion that Coca-Cola did a few years ago. By printing common names on Coke bottles and cans, the brand encouraged consumers to give drinks to their friends and family. It was a simple promotion that clearly conveyed Coca-Cola’s brand values and had a clear call to action.
Demonstrate Your Knowledge: Clearly articulate your value to consumers through the content you generate. Whether it be a blog, a whitepaper, an eBook, a video or a podcast, make sure that your audience sees your brand as a helpful, benevolent authority in your industry who is willing to share your hard-earned expertise. All of this content also helps to keep you in their social media feeds and inboxes - and thus, top of mind - as often as possible.
Grow a Personality: Brand accessibility involves you being transparent and relatable to your audience. That’s hard to do if you don’t have a strong point of view. It’s okay to have a vision for your brand, your industry and your society. After all, what’s the point of having a brand identity if it doesn’t mean anything when people see it? Expressing your brand’s unique values will also help define who you consider to be your target audience. When a brand does this well, it helps you carve out a place in the market. For example, Apple is sophisticated, Hallmark is wholesome and Amazon is reliable.
Adapt: As consumers’ habits evolve in the digital age, brands become less durable than they used to be. Many traditional brands have been totally blindsided by the need to adapt to new behaviors in order to remain accessible and relevant. These days, your audience expects you to be on social media, to have a website, even to have an app. In order to reach as many people as possible, brands need to consider the value of utilizing all of these new communication channels. Don’t make the mistake so many brands made a few decades ago when they chose not to invest in a strong online presence.
Creating an Accessible Omnichannel Media Strategy
Developing an omnichannel media strategy is basically advertising 101 in 2020. This approach gives consumers an integrated, seamless experience whether they’re shopping around online on their smartphone, tablet, desktop, or in person in a physical store. According to Google, 90% of people who own multiple devices (which is most people) switch between an average of three of them each day to complete a task. This means you have multiple opportunities to connect with your audience, and you should seize them all.
In order to have a successful omnichannel strategy, you have to commit to accessibility. With so many different communication mediums in the ad industry, it can be tough to not change your voice and style for each one. Prioritizing accessibility requires you to be consistent, and this consistency helps consumers become comfortable with your brand. Then, no matter which channels your target audience accesses, they’ll always feel like you’re being transparent and open in your communication.
As you form your media plan, don’t think about campaigns in terms of channel, but in terms of message. This message may find consumers in the form of TV commercials, display ads, mobile ads, sponsored posts on social media or even billboards and bus wraps. The goal is that no matter the time or location someone is moving through the buyer’s journey, your brand’s voice and values are there with them.
Advertising 101: Join Our Study Group
After several decades in the media industry, The Ward Group knows a thing or two about creating effective media plans and acquiring quality ad placements. Our talents run the gamut from traditional media such as mailers or radio ads to digital media channels such as paid search and online video ads. As new advertising channels are created, it becomes more important to look at media buying holistically. Our media stewards carefully consider how your media plan will work together with your overall marketing strategy to deliver a strong, consistent message.
To start working together to develop a plan to reach your audience wherever they may be, contact The Ward Group today.