When it comes to building and developing a brand proposition there are four elements of the branding process that can get overlooked, but which should form part and be a very real consideration at the creative stage and throughout the life of a brand.
Although there are many brand considerations the following four points should become part of the overall framework and form part of the complete brand mix.
Keep it local: Identify and engage with audiences on a national level, but don’t forget to be engaging on a local level, too.
It can be too easy to suffer from local ignorance when you’re trying to appeal to a mass audience. This is particularly difficult when you are creating a brand proposition that may not necessary focus on one particular social group.
There seems to be a misconception that the British consumer only wants cheap. This of course does apply, in part, if the brand’s core proposition is driven by price and price alone. This is also the primary consideration when you are targeting your brand to the precariat social group. But in the main a high percentage of the British public don’t want cheap, they want value. Moreover, research shows that the British consumer is happy to pay more to get value. Of course as a brand guardian you need to understand what your audience interprets as ‘value’.
Marry your communications: Combine digital and traditional communications to drive brand engagement and footfall.
Even today some brands find it difficult to link their traditional communications with their digital channels. Some businesses are under the misconception that social media is only good for social interaction between friends and family, when in real terms they should see social media, and social networking as an extension of their external communications. This is especially important when you consider social networks are now prudent brand communication tools, as well as very useful extensions of the sales and customer services processes. If used correctly they can be used as an important part of the internal communications mix with very real benefits, such as productivity and employee engagement.
Think creative, act logically: If required, your brand strategy should have national aspirations – even global ones, but the brand’s strategy should have tactical elements that focus on localised engagement.
Brand strategies control the life cycle of any brand proposition. But the strategy has to be flexible and develop with market changes. The strategy also has to understand and communicate with multiple audiences in different ways, as each group will interpret the brand proposition differently; some may see a proposition as aspirational, whereas others may see it as having no real value to their lives. Both of these statements need to be recognised and understood if the brand’s survival is to continue and develop passed the creative stage.
Think big, act local: Know your market on a local level. What’s important to consumers in Edinburgh is not necessarily relevant to consumers in Leeds.
This area really forms part of ‘Think creative, act logically.’ The United Kingdom is a small island but it’s made up of a rich and diverse culture, encompassing more than 270 nationalities and 300 languages. Putting this impressive statistic aside, brands need to consider other social-economic and demographical influences; brands also need to be aware of and understand that there are seven different social groups that exist in the UK, each viewing brand propositions differently and interpreting brand messages differently.
The seven social classes of Great Britain:
Elite: Forming the top 6% of British society, the Elite group holds very high economic capital and high social capital.
Established middle class: Makes up about 25% of British society. Occupations include electrical engineers, occupational therapists, midwives, police officers and teaching professionals.
Technical middle class: Accounts for around 6% of British society. Occupations include aircraft pilots, pharmacists, natural and social science professionals and physical scientists, and business, research, and administrative positions.
New affluent workers: Equates to around 15% of British society and have moderately good economic capital. Occupations include electricians and electrical fitters; postal workers; retail cashiers and checkout operatives; plumbers and heating and ventilation engineers; sales and retail assistants; housing officers; kitchen and catering assistants.
Traditional working class: Makes up about 19% of British society and have relatively poor economic capital, but they do have reasonable household income. Occupations within this group include bar staff, chefs, nursing auxiliaries and assistants, assemblers and routine operatives, care workers, elementary storage occupations and customer service occupations.
Precariat: Around 15% of British society makes up this group, and have poor economic capital, and the lowest scores on every other criterion. Typical occupations include cleaners and van drivers.
Taking into account the above social groups and then researching each groups’ brand preferences can in some way highlight just how big a task branding is, and how exciting the profession has become.
At one time the United Kingdom was referred to as the ‘Golden Island’. This was because all you had to do to create an aspirational brand proposition was to add a high price tag and link it with a high-value celebrity. Of course, and to a degree, this statement is somewhat stereotyping the British consumer, but it was true. ‘If it had a high price tag it was perceived as having a high value.’
The British consumers’ view, indeed the world’s view of brands has changed and moved on, thanks in part to the financial crises, forcing consumers across the world to think differently about the word value, in terms of spend vs. return on investment.
There are also other factors that explain why consumers prefer certain brands to others; these include brands having strong environmental strategies. Studies also show that consumers’ favour brands that are perceived as being open and honest. This was highlighted in study that found consumers were more likely to support brands with a clear social strategy. It is important however that the social strategy focuses on both brand messages, as well supporting local marketing thinking. It’s can also be useful, depending on the size of the brand’s reach to operate different social platforms. My own experience, for example, has proven that certain social platforms and strategies can become very effective customer services tools, not to mention sales platforms.
I my view the financial changes and the age of consumer journalism has made for a far more exciting time for brands. It’s certainly true that the more challenges brands face the greater the level of creativity is needed, making the world of brand relations a lot more exciting. This is especially true if you are trying to reach an audience mix on both a national and local level.