Guest Post By: Leif Hallberg
Today’s business owners are faced with the challenge of identifying themselves, their products, and their services as distinct, unique, and appealing to consumers in the midst of a vast digital marketing landscape. Using the power of a brand to set one’s self apart is a vital marketing strategy for any business, but requires far more than having a nice logo or slogan. Understanding the origins of branding, and learning what it means to create a brand identity where everyone involved “rides for the brand” can make the difference between a good digital marketing platform and great one.
A History of Branding
Since the time ancient Egyptians and Romans first marked animals using a fire-heated tool, the concept of a “brand” has represented ownership, protection, and loyalty. Animals who were branded were able to roam free, grazing vast territories while owners could be confident they would be able to find their animals in the midst of many other animals who might look similarly.
In the 1500’s Spanish and Mexican vaqueros used branding in much the same way as the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Later, the American West cowboy continued the tradition, adding the use of an iron rod with a unique shape that was heated in a fire and applied to the thick hide of the cows. Cowboys showed their loyalty to ranch owners by “riding for the brand”, or remaining steadfast in their dedication to a way of life that included hard work, respect, honor, trust, responsibility, and stewardship. These cowboys took pride in helping others, protecting the animals they tended and the land they moved across.
Over the years, the concept of branding expanded to include marking products or goods as a sign of quality. This evolved into our modern understanding of a “trademark”, which indicates ownership. Companies began establishing slogans and a specific look and feel to help further differentiate one brand from another.
Riding for the Brand
As the American cowboy, Nike, and Coca Cola remind us, branding is more than just a marking on an animal or a product. Branding is a way of life. Nike tells us that if we wear their shoes, we can “just do it”, suggesting anything is possible if we support their brand. Coca Cola encourages us to drink their products because if we do, life will be better and we will be happier. But, of course the cowboys understood that riding for the brand was much more than fancy words and eye catching images.
In today’s world of digital marketing, consumers have so many choices. The products and services begin to blur together in a collage of pretty pictures and kitschy phases. Companies have started to recognize that consumers are looking for more. They want to feel a part of something, and companies must find a way to differentiate themselves by creating a sense of belonging and encouraging consumers to participate in a meaningful vision.
Establishing a brand identity that inspires loyalty requires walking one’s talk and creating a vision people can support. Take Patagonia for example. Their digital marketing presence is punctuated less by selling products, and more by showcasing a lifestyle that galvanizes, motivates, and excites. Patagonia takes a stand for nature and the environment, and supports strong women and families. Patagonia believes in living an active and healthy lifestyle and making adventure a part of daily living. Therefore, anyone purchasing their products are an integral part of this compelling story, in essence, “riding for the brand”. This is the magic of the brand.
Steps to Leverage the Origins of Branding for Digital Marketing
Colibri Digital Marketing is a San Francisco digital marketing agency that understands how to leverage the origins of branding. Colibri’s services are mission and value driven, and the company believes in making the world a better place by collaborating with other like-minded companies who genuinely care about the work they do and how they impact others. Colibri brings its brand to life through the story of the Colibri, or hummingbird, whose qualities include courage, grace under pressure, consistency and perseverance, creativity, flexibility and zest, and a sense of fun.
To follow in the footsteps of Patagonia, Colibri, and so many other companies who successfully utilize their brand identity through digital marketing, here are some important steps to take:
- Understand who your ideal clients are and what will appeal to them.
- Develop a brand concept that has a compelling story and vision that your ideal clients can understand, relate to, and connect with.
- Create a list of brand attributes that are congruent with the values, beliefs, and vision of the brand and will guide the development of the business and the brand’s products and services.
- Design the look and feel of the brand and the business to mirror these attributes.
- Create an organizational culture in which staff feel a part of the vision, and rewarded for their loyalty to the brand.
- Train staff to “walk the talk”, and support them in their efforts.
- Ensure the business “walks the talk”, aligning products, services, customer service, the culture of the business, the way in which staff are treated, and the look and feel of all marketing materials with the vision and the brand.
- Keep your brand current. In the ever-changing digital marketing landscape, brand upgrades are a must if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Creating the Strategic Branding Package
The digital marketing experts at Colibri noticed that many of their clients were struggling to see results with strategies that had once been successful. They realized that oftentimes, the problem lies with the branding, not the strategy. As a way to mitigate this issue, Colibri Digital Marketing developed the Strategic Branding Package, which audits a company’s digital marketing methods, researches the ideal client audiences, updates brand messaging, creates a current SEO plan, and develops a marketing plan for the year that helps companies implement all the steps needed for an entire digital marketing brand upgrade.
Want to learn more about the Strategic Branding Package? Team Colibri makes it easy for you. Reach out for a FREE digital marketing strategy session with Colibri Digital Marketing CEO Anna Colibri and have a one-on-one session!
About the Author
Leif Hallberg, M.A., LPC, LCPC is an internationally-acclaimed author, consultant, licensed mental health professional, educator, and avid lover of nature and animals. Leif combines her knowledge of human psychology, animals, and nature, with her understanding of business and organizational development to bring a fresh perspective to digital marketing.