Right now, brand marketing is more important than ever. The age of the algorithm is coming to a close. From 2010 to 2020, Facebook’s algorithm reigned, turning performance marketing and growth hacking into the most coveted marketing disciplines.
Now, due to the privacy-first web, the marketing-trend pendulum — which always swings between creative and scientific approaches — is swinging back towards creative.
Brand marketing is becoming increasingly important to cut through the noise in today’s crowded market. New startups are constantly popping up, offering similar and competitive new products or services to customers. Both the big-brand names and smaller businesses are feeling the pressure as advertising costs rise.
In order to stay top of mind with customers and earn brand recognition, companies with a long-term view know investing in a strong brand marketing strategy is no longer a nice-to-have — it’s a non-negotiable.
Brand marketing is the foundation of any brand’s marketing mix. It involves brand development strategies, positioning, customer personas, full-funnel branded marketing plans, and more.
"Branding" is a subset of brand marketing and often refers to the process of defining and documenting brand standards, including visual identity (logo, color palette, marks) and messaging (mission, values, tagline) in the form of comprehensive brand guidelines. These elements work together to create a consistent and cohesive experience for a brand's target audience.
There are a lot of freelance brand marketers out there, but the cream of the crop know how to implement strategies and leverage storytelling. These brand marketing experts are elevating the customer experience through campaigns across owned channels (organic social media, content marketing), earned (press releases, social media mentions) and paid media (ads, sponsorships) to build brand awareness and equity.
The importance of brand marketing is still sometimes overlooked because it takes time to see results. Many businesses tend to focus on short-term gains in their marketing efforts rather than investing in long-term business objectives.
In today’s market though, companies that care about longevity and differentiation are investing in brand marketing early and often.
Why? Investing in brand marketing is essential to building brand equity, AKA a trustworthy, premium reputation.
Brand equity enables businesses to expand brand awareness and market reach, and even helps companies charge more for their products and services because of the perceived higher value.
Retailers like Apple, Nike and Starbucks are prime examples of boosting product value through brand equity. (Name recognition, too — those brands need no introduction!) But branding isn’t just for big fish. Brand marketing is how you become a big fish — and it doesn’t have to cost millions.
It’s actually small businesses and up-and-comers who need brand marketing the most to cut through the noise and connect with customers. Brand marketing helps potential customers get to know businesses through multiple touch points, and see that their messaging is consistent, which builds trust.
Even after prospects become customers, brand marketing can help them become repeat or recurring customers. That's because brand impacts how a company's products, services, and core values make customers feel.
The emotional connection branding can forge is powerful. It’s a big reason why some people habitually buy Coca-Cola over Pepsi and why Burger King refreshed its brand identity to take on McDonald's.
Walmart and McDonald's have such strong brands that we recognize them by their color palettes and marks – golden arches and the yellow spark against blue. They give us a sense of comfort and familiarity on sight.
Brand marketing isn’t just about vibes, though. When done well, it decreases the time and money it takes to acquire leads and grow your top-of-funnel by sparking word of mouth marketing, referrals, and brand loyalty.
By defining visual brand identity and voice ahead of time, brand marketing also makes launching future campaigns easier and faster. There’s less groundwork to lay when you’re already clear on your brand mission, messaging, and target market.
A brand marketer is responsible for telling a cohesive brand story across all customer touch points — and that takes a skill set that’s far from entry-level.
The person in this role should be able to handle competitive analysis, market research and brand positioning, which flows into the development of a brand strategy — encompassing brand values, brand voice, logo design, color palettes and more.
Doing all this successfully takes years of experience, and a few essential brand marketer skills:
Questions to consider before hiring a brand marketer
If you answered no to any of these, a brand marketer can help you build processes around customer data collection — and glean insight from your data bank. If you are doing these things, but aren’t using any of that data to create a feedback loop with your marketing and branding campaigns, a brand marketer can help ASAP.
Brand marketing is ever-evolving, with new tactics, platforms, and strategies constantly surfacing to help businesses connect with customers and stand out. If you’re serious about building your brand and know it’s a long-term play that requires thoughtfulness, energy and expertise, it’d be a wise investment to hire an expert brand marketer.
Whether you’re trying to establish an identity for your startup, or you’re leading a mid-stage company whose marketing channels have clashing personalities, hiring a brand marketer is a great next step.
Brand marketers can help you create a brand book that will act as your company’s north star for future campaigns, ensuring everything you do is on-brand. Especially if you’ve never done any internal or external brand strategy exercises, this kind of investment will pay dividends for years to come.
It’s no secret that hiring a full-time team member can be time-consuming — just deciding on a job title and job description can take weeks! — and risky. Too often, companies make hires that end up being a bad fit, but only find out once it’s too late. This is especially costly for startups or smaller businesses, often setting them back on months in the early stages when speed is key.
Some companies are aware of this and opt to hire an external agency on retainer instead. The problem with agencies is that they come with a premium price tag — and agencies often hire their own freelancers to execute client work.
When you hire a freelance brand strategist directly, you can get an expert who’s uniquely skilled in the exact areas you need.
For example, an expert brand marketing manager can define your brand identity, build out a go-to-market strategy, and use customer data to develop stronger, better performing marketing campaigns across your organization.
So much goes into making a campaign successful, with a lot of prep work before launch. Having an expert in your corner who’s easily accessible makes developing and executing a holistic brand strategy more enjoyable.
Plus, when you work with a freelance brand marketing expert on a flexible basis, you can scale their hours up or down the work as you please. That means if some months are tighter, you’re not beholden to a rigid contract.