Growing Your Brand: Optimal Growth at Scale
Strong brand strategy is an underrated tool in beating the competition. Here are some data-driven growth tactics to get the most out of brand building.
By Ran Wei, Growth Architect at BCG Digital Ventures
As digital technologies rapidly transform the way consumers interact with brands, many companies are struggling to retain their existing customer base, let alone find new ways to grow. In a world where consumers are overwhelmed with too many choices, marketers are challenged with figuring out how to stand out and gain loyal users.
Amongst the considerations in a growth marketer’s toolkit, not enough are considering the value of brand strategy. In fact, 67% of marketers reportedly believe their senior leaders don’t appreciate the potential value of a strong brand. However, consistent branding across all channels still has the power to impact the bottom line, leading to a 23% increase in revenue, according to Forbes.
Applying growth tactics in building a strong brand foundation shows high return for marketers. A new approach is beginning to emerge in which growth tactics are actually applied to brands strategy, allowing us to quantify its impact for the first time ever. With this new approach, we find that there’s a whole new world where brand and growth can play well together, allowing us to help brands to stay relevant, establish an emotional connection with consumers, and maintain continuous presence in their lives.
The Benefits of a Strong Brand
Strong brands can deliver significant tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible benefits include increased demand and margins and reduced cost and risk. Intangible benefits include engaging employees, simplifying communications, building trust, and reinforcing strategy.
One of the biggest mistakes we see companies making when it comes to marketing is the tendency to not align their business, growth, and brand strategies earlier on. It’s important to invest the time and effort to brand the business and start creating brand value earlier in order to help stand the brand up in the market with a data-driven approach to growth, scale, and emotional storytelling.
Approach to brand growth is changing. In the past, brand growth approach was targeted towards:
- Brand loyalists: consumers remained loyal to brands they liked
- Unique selling propositions: brand differentiation
- Campaign bursts: focusing on milestones and holidays
Due to the move towards a digital-first and saturated market, where buyers are overwhelmed many options, brand growth approach is now targeted towards:
- Loyal switchers: consumers have limited brand loyalty due many options
- Relevant associations: brand distinctiveness
- Continuous presence: staying top of mind and evergreen
You should start developing your brand strategy immediately after MVP definition. The earlier you can start the better. The further into the build you go, the greater the rewards of having one become.
Here are a few key steps you can take to build your brand from a growth perspective.
Understanding Your Audience
When you set out to build or update your brand, one of the first things you should consider is your audience. It’s important to know how users would buy your brand and how it will fit into their lives. In addition to conducting ethnographic research about your target user, using polling and surveys will allow you to quantify certain characteristics and behaviors about your target audience. This tactic empowers marketers to solicit opinions in real time to better understand their customer’s needs. It not only allows for quantification of factors that consumers find valuable in a brand, but is also a quick way to gain deep insight about consumers directly from their perspective.
Here are some of the benefits of polling and surveys:
- Comprehensive Metrics: Using Facebook poll data can help you understand what your audience looks like. Narrow down respondents by age, location, and gender.
- Obtain a large numbers of respondents: The average smartphone user checks their Facebook 14 times a day, which means there are already many active people who are readily available to provide consumer insight.
- Cost Effective: Traditional polling can be costly, however Facebook survey solutions are cost effective and offer enough information to guide the brand strategy.
Building Your Narrative
A strong brand narrative leads a lasting and loyal presence.
Airbnb, for example, builds their narrative around a unique travel experience. They use content and creative related to beautiful locations around the world, the unique experiences possible through Airbnb, and the community that users can feel a part of.
They developed an intentional narrative with a main objective, and built their entire growth strategy around that narrative. So, after narrowing down your target audience, the next step is to brainstorm, ideate, and A/B test brand concepts to see what resonates most.
Consider using the below framework for brainstorming your brand narrative:
Throughout your ideation, be sure to keep your target audience in mind. Build user personas and determine what their main pain points that you are solving for are. Then, build your narrative around the solution.
For example, when Airbnb approached their rebranding in 2014, not only did it unveil a new signature color palette, typography, and an updated logo, it gave new life to its identity around the concept of community by reshaping its to be: For people who travel we are an alternative to a hotel that gives you a true taste of a location and its culture by creating enriched and unique experiences with locals and gives you a sense of community to make you feel like you could belong anywhere. Since then, it has continued to build upon this narrative of living and learning like locals.
As you are workshopping your narrative, write down different hypotheses that you’d like to test for product/market fit and user appetite. Don’t be afraid to make the brainstorm with the team fun by using Post-it Notes and whiteboarding ideas together!
Test and Learn as You Grow
To make sure your growth tactics are intentional, use market experiments on channels such as Facebook and Google to test concepts like brand name association.
Brand that test concepts and continuously iterate based off of experiments perform exponentially better. Microsoft Bing’s revenue per search has increased 10%-25% each year due to A/B testing. Companies such as Amazon, Booking.com, Google and Facebook each conduct more than 10,000 online controlled experiments per year. Test and learn approach will allow you leverage data to drive your decisions.
Create placeholder test brands and run A/B test acquisition campaigns to test for favorability based on your hypotheses. For example, a simple Facebook naming test for a travel company could look like this:
After running all three campaigns at the same time with the same targeting, measure click-through rate for each name and determine the most favorable one based on the winner.
Market testing experiments are simple to execute, and have a high value. They allow you to see how your target audience are reacting and interacting, and apply learnings from test outcomes to your brand and growth strategy.
Leveraging data as you grow will set you up for success to maximize conversions, and also equip you with valuable insight to grow your brand over time.
Build Your Content and Creative Roadmap
To increase brand visibility and support growth over time, you also need to create a scalable content strategy. In today’s digital landscape, most companies cannot rely only on their digital agency of record for content creation. BCG Digital Ventures offers a hybrid approach for content creation that reduces speed-to-market. This strategy allows for more varied types of content to be built at scale with lower costs. With the new content creation model, you can:
- Cut down on turn-around time
- Reduces costs to create content at scale
- Ensure content stays relevant for consumers
- Leverage agency for their strength
- Allow for testing and optimizing content types at scale
Grow your brand strategy by utilizing Facebook and Google to drive favorability and awareness with compelling creative and copy. For example:
- Leverage Facebook and Instagram to bring the brand to life with videos and GIFs.
- Utilize competitor targeting and keyword strategy to drive favorability amongst competitors.
- Use engaging creative on Google Display Network to increase awareness.
Knowing the Other Players
Finally, once you’ve taken steps to understand your audience, build your narrative and grow with intention, you must make sure you know the other players in the market. To understand the brand strategy of competitors you can conduct competitive analysis. Tools such as SimilarWeb will allow you to easily gain an understanding of products that are already out there in the market, their brand narrative, and help you make assumptions about their current marketing strategy.
More mature businesses invest in their digital presence to increase brand awareness over time. They not only diversify their presence on multiple channels, but also maintain a consistent brand narrative throughout these channels, ensuring that they all connect together to tell a cohesive story.
Optimal Growth at Scale
A strong brand identity shapes how consumers perceive and choose to interact with a brand. It defines the North Star and communicates the unique value of the brand in today’s crowded marketplace. By applying a growth-focused brand strategy method marketers can build a more intentional narrative, quantify brand decisions, and understand their target audience better. All of these aspects combined will help shape decision-making behavior in a meaningful way and help brands compete in an increasingly competitive landscape.