Brand Marketing Excellence, From Advocacy to Activation

Maximize brand marketing’s impact with an eye to the internal and external audiences that matter most.

Download Your High-Impact Brand Experience Toolkit

Use this toolkit to craft meaningful experiences that drive greater customer loyalty.

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Create brand marketing experiences that spark lasting commitment from customers

Powerful brands capture audience loyalty by delivering high-impact experiences. This toolkit guides you through the steps needed to:

  • Pinpoint what audiences must think, feel and do to draw a meaningful association with your brand

  • Determine the elements and enablers needed to execute a catalytic experience

  • Align the experience with the criteria for catalytic performance

Download the High-Impact Brand Experience Toolkit to build an experience that advances from memorable to meaningful.

Build an effective brand marketing strategy from the inside out

In turbulent socioeconomic times, CMOs can take these actions to sell-in their brand vision and execute it in a way that attracts the right audiences.

Complement short‑term tactics with the long‑term value brand marketing provides

The impact of brand marketing is notoriously difficult to measure. When socioeconomic disruptors loom and marketing budgets tighten, CMOs may find themselves redirecting strategic energy and resources away from long-term brand marketing investments in favor of performance-focused tactics that bring immediate results.

The rationale is understandable. Digital strategies are known to generate quick, provable returns in the form of customer insights and actions. While these insights and actions are valuable, reliably growing a brand also depends on the sustainable relationship building that brand marketing supports.

One challenge CMOs face is gaining internal buy-in. While noted for their ability to tell impactful stories to external audiences about a brand, CMOs may not always convey the necessity and impact of brand marketing within their own organizations in a way that sticks. Put simply, brand marketing has a “branding” problem.

The solution? Clearly align brand marketing objectives to broader business objectives — and educate internal stakeholders on the importance of achieving those objectives by building a healthy brand.

A six-point framework provides a way to engage the organization in creating and supporting brand health.

  • Step 1: Brand strategy
    Brand strategy is defined from the perspective of your target audience. First, ask, “Does enough of our target audience find value and differentiation in our strategy?” If you offer something your target audience cares about or can’t easily get elsewhere, you’ll have a greater impact on the business. Second, confirm that enough of the target audience sees that value and differentiation. If not, although you are differentiated, your small audience won’t be able to match the growth ambitions of your organization.

  • Step 2: Reach

    Identify brand reach by asking, “Is our target audience aware of us?” Brand reach can be driven by your organization or by external references through PR or social media. If a high number of your target audience knows about you, this strengthens brand health. If not, focus on reach before putting too much effort into the rest of the framework.

  • Step 3: Communication

    Assess whether your brand marketing communicates your brand strategy in a way that your target audience understands. The best brand strategies are communicated well and are top of mind for your target audience.

  • Step 4: Engagement

    Confirm that your target audience understands the value you bring to them and wants to engage with your brand. This engagement can come through content on social media, your website or through events.

  • Step 5: Experience

    Determine if your brand strategy is infused throughout your target audience’s experience of your brand. Ask, “Are we living up to the hype?” Determine key “moments that matter” where you would expect your brand positioning to shine through to your target audience.

  • Step 6: Business outcomes

    After determining the health of all other factors, ask, “How are our target audience’s actions driving business results?” If you have the right differentiation, enough people are aware of you, you communicate your strategy well, you engage people through to purchase and you deliver on what you say your brand is about, then the business should respond accordingly.

Stand out to key audiences with a benefits‑focused brand marketing message

Organizations can drive powerful business outcomes — including purchase frequency, exclusivity and willingness to pay a premium — by fostering brand commitment among key audiences. Strong brand positioning — and the brand marketing messaging that flows from it — are key to driving this commitment.

Getting brand positioning right is crucial to moving B2B and B2C audiences to behave in ways that support the brand. Strong brand commitment is built on three pillars:

  • Connection. Individuals identify with the brand and feel a personal connection to it.

  • Preference. Customers, employees and prospective employees prefer the brand to alternatives.

  • Advocacy. Individuals share positive experiences with the brand and encourage others to use its products/services.

To reap these outcomes, successful brands emphasize one or more of three types of “benefit” in their brand positioning to demonstrate what sets the brand apart:

  • Functional benefits, or how a brand fulfills utility needs/goals (e.g., solving practical problems; offering high-quality or high-value products/services; having a strong leadership team; or providing positive customer experiences)

  • Societal benefits, or how a brand fulfills societal needs/goals (e.g., using ethical production processes; creating products/services that benefit society or the environment; or taking a stand on social or political issues)

  • Personal benefits, or how a brand fulfills audiences’ personal psychological needs (e.g., helping people feel confident, connected to others or like they are staying true to their values)

When developing a brand marketing campaign, keep in mind that for both B2B and B2C audiences, personal benefits have a greater impact than functional and societal benefits combined. For example, if a hotel brand’s core audience wants to feel like they belong (a type of personal benefit), then developing a brand marketing campaign around that idea could have nearly triple the impact on level of brand commitment than emphasizing the hotel’s spacious rooms (a type of functional benefit).

Unlocking the potential of personal benefits

We’ve identified nine essential elements of psychological well-being that can convey personal benefit in a brand marketing message:

  • Belonging. Connection with others through mutual affection and care (e.g., “We help you relate, feel supported, have community”)

  • Life purpose. Sense of meaning and direction (e.g., “We help you achieve your ambition, fulfill your commitments”)

  • Growth. Continued development of one’s self (e.g., “We help you learn, adapt, feel challenged”)

  • Self-consistency. Life activities fit one’s sense of self (e.g., “We help you stay true to yourself, reduce conflict with self-image”)

  • Autonomy. Freedom to control one’s own life (e.g., “We help you feel empowered, be independent”)

  • Competence. Ability to produce intended results (e.g., “We help you feel capable, expert, savvy”)

  • Security. Certainty about one’s life and surroundings (e.g., “We help you feel safe, have order and peace of mind”)

  • Esteem. Positive evaluations of one’s self and status (e.g., “We help you feel confident, prestigious”)

  • Energy. Strength and vitality needed for life activities (e.g., “We help you have adventure, feel entertained”)

Rethink brand marketing experiences to drive unswerving customer commitment

Audiences no longer follow a linear path from brand awareness to consideration to decision to brand loyalty. Roadblocks exist at every step of those traditional pathways to brand value. 

Progressive brands continuously reexamine every aspect of their brand strategy, from brand positioning to activation to measurement, to maximize the value of brand marketing investments. 

Brands compete with more companies than ever — especially startups. Brands also face audiences who seem uninterested in brand names or blame them for societal challenges, and who have become increasingly empowered by diverse and proliferating information (e.g., third-party reviews). These disruptions have broken conventional rules for brand building and diminished the value of brand recognition.

To drive commitment in this shifting environment, activate your brand positioning through experiences. Catalytic brand experiences have an outsized impact on brand commitment because, unlike high-quality or memorable brand experiences, they cause audiences to think or behave differently, ultimately helping to internalize the brand experience.

Catalytic brand experiences can happen across channels, making them easy to incorporate into a brand marketing strategy. And it only takes one catalytic experience with a brand to create a lasting impact and boost brand commitment.

To identify impactful opportunities for catalytic brand experiences, begin with these steps:

  • Investigate in-progress or planned brand experiences that could be made catalytic across a variety of audience touchpoints, including events and tradeshows, product launches or brand launches.

  • Identify experiences with natural catalytic potential. For example:

    • Instances where audiences are already having a memorable brand experience

    • Experiences where one or more catalytic components is already present (e.g., highly emotional moments)

  • Use audience insights — such as customer journeys — to uncover existing brand experiences where an intervention could change audience perceptions and/or deliver unexpected value (e.g., proactive communication that helps audiences navigate negative experiences).

To design a brand experience that creates audience meaning, take these actions:

  • Identify and target specific audience segments whose brand commitment is most essential (e.g., a new target customer segment).

  • Surface what those target audiences value and which of those values the brand specifically delivers on. Identify why they find that attribute meaningful (e.g., through qualitative interviews, social listening, surveys).

  • Translate the meaningful brand attributes into specific experiential elements and tactics that would evoke these attributes.

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FAQ on brand marketing

Brand marketing is the practice of creating and nurturing relationships between a brand and its target audience by helping that audience understand what the brand is about and why it matters to them.

Brand marketing is an essential part of the overall marketing strategy, in that it showcases the brand’s reputation, values and points of differentiation — all of which help build trust and develop a stronger relationship with customers.

A common perception is that brand marketing is hard to measure. But there are multiple ways to measure the success of brand marketing efforts. These include: 

  • Conducting surveys

  • Monitoring customer trends

  • Measuring upticks in social media engagement

  • Tracking branded search volume and impression share volume

Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.