A plethora of advice about online branding exists. Everywhere you turn, you see tips for how to grab attention on social media or improve your website. However, there’s still a place for offline branding, and knowing the do’s and don’ts helps you grow your business and bring in new customers. Offline marketing is far from dead and should be a part of any promotional strategy.
No matter where you market your brand, authenticity is the key to gaining consumer trust. For Stackla’s Consumer Content Report, they surveyed 2,000 adults located in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. They found around 86% of respondents felt authenticity was important and had a significant impact on which brands they supported.
Of course, many different forms of offline marketing exist. Each comes with its own set of common-sense rules. If you’re just starting or expanding your real-world advertising efforts, you should keep a few do’s and don’ts in mind.
Do: Keep Online Marketing in Mind
You might scratch your head at this tip. After all, the article is about offline marketing. However, a recent study by Econsultancy discovered offline marketing boosts online searches by 40%, with the physical ads encouraging people to turn to the internet for more information on a brand or product.
When planning your offline strategies, consider if your brand looks consistent across both mediums. If you meet someone at a local event and they later go online to research your company, will they find more detailed but similar information? Is your website set up to accommodate those who live locally but want to place an order online? For example, this strategy might look like offering delivery to a specific area or providing curbside pickup options.
Tractor Supply Company offers shipping or curbside pickup. Their site’s special offers coincide with printed flyers they send out with the local newspaper. Showing the same offers creates consistency whether the person physically comes into the store to buy the item, calls with an order or uses the website to reserve a curbside pickup.
Think about how many of your customers will head to the internet for additional information and answers to their questions. If there is a need, such as delivery or curbside service, provide an option to set up an account online or phone in.
Don’t: Ignore the Power of Signs
If you’re looking for offline strategies, a sign is one of the most cost-effective ways of spreading the word about your business. An outdoor banner invites people into your space and informs them of special events.
You can also utilize signs to transform a building’s interior. Personalize work areas to reflect your company values. Developing a strong company culture gets all your staff on the same page and translates into a brand on which customers can rely.
Use an accent wall to tell your brand’s story and color coordinate everything with your company palette. Add inspirational messages to uplift and inspire.
Signs are so much a part of our lives that it’s easy to ignore them, so think about how to grab user attention. How does an outdoor sign look from a distance as people drive past? How does an indoor sign direct customers or employees, and is it visible from the first moment they walk into the room? Think outside the box and add floor decals to direct foot traffic into your shop. To make your signs pop even more you can use one of the ShopPOP’s acrylic sign holders, found here.
Do: Connect on an Emotional Level
No matter what type of offline branding you use, take the time to analyze your core audience. What are their biggest worries? What problem do they have that brought them to your brand for a solution? What emotions drive their fears, and how can you appease them best?
First, pay attention to customer sentiments and give them personalized, one-on-one service. If you receive a complaint, do your best to rectify the situation. While you can’t appease all people, you’ll develop a lifelong relationship with others.
You should also let them know why your product solves the issues they face. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What would you want to know, and how could someone reassure you?
Disney+ released a commercial that connected on several different emotional levels. They tapped into viewer emotions such as fear, sadness and happiness and pointed out all the viewer’s favorite movies would soon be available when Disney+ came online.
The commercial throws out a wide net, showing clips from many diverse movie genres. No matter who your favorite characters are, you likely saw them for a second in the commercial and tapped into the different emotional scenes.
Your first step is getting to know your target audience and learning what feelings drive them. Think about how to offer reassurance in turbulent times or tug at the heartstrings through your ads.
Don’t: Overlook Your Logo Design
Your logo is a big part of your overall image as a brand. Think about some of the most popular brands today. When you think about McDonald’s, you remember the golden arches. Thinking of FedEx brings to mind their word logo with the letters in motion. Starbucks is known for their green lady emblem. Your logo design is something users associate with your brand and should appear in every marketing effort.
Your logo should be simple, responsive and memorable. It has to show people what you do, what you stand for and what your company identity is in one small image. Hiring a professional designer is a must.
Over time, you’ll also want to redesign your logo. Keep the general look, but update it to reflect current trends.
Do: Create a Style Guide
Wherever you advertise, you should convey the same look and message. A brand style guide is the key to ensuring consistency across mediums. If you place an ad in a magazine, the style should be similar to a mailer you send to your current customers.
Although a style guide should explain offline requirements, such as the size and resolution of your logo or specific colors, it should also address online marketing. Ideally, your organization has the same look and personality, no matter where you advertise.
Starbucks and McDonald’s have gone head-to-head in advertising their coffees. Starbucks shot back with a series of ads set on burlap backgrounds and other natural materials with the idea that you get what you pay for. However, what’s striking about this — and all their ad campaigns — is that the style is similar even though the background or message might change.
Your style guide should outline colors, typography and even the tone of messaging. Anyone who works on one of your campaigns should refer to the guide to keep things consistent.
Don’t: Trash Your Competition
The Starbucks case study brings something to light. It’s best not to trash your competition. Note that Starbucks never mentions McCafe or McDonald’s by name. The insinuation is there, but the focus is always on their brand and why they are the best.
When you mention another company, you shine a spotlight on them and give them free advertising. Even a negative comment gives them exposure. People tend to want to find things out for themselves, so if you say the other brand is awful, they’ll try to prove you wrong. You may even lose some customers over such an attack.
Instead, focus on what makes you better than any other company in your industry. Share why you have a unique value no other brand has without ever mentioning another business. There is no reason for you to give them free attention, even the negative kind. There’s an old rule of thumb that all publicity is good, so direct leads to your brand and not someone else’s.
Do: Get Creative
There are many different forms of real-world marketing. Just a few examples include:
- Vehicle wraps
- Print ads
- Event booths
- Outdoor signage
Don’t limit yourself to only the tried and true methods for getting the word out. Consider more creative approaches, such as hosting an event and inviting local media. What are you an expert in? Can you offer your services as a speaker in exchange for handing out brochures or business cards to attendees?
Some businesses, such as bakeries, hand out samples. Other companies create a word-of-mouth campaign and sending brand ambassadors out to promote what they do. You know your business better than anyone, so choose the type of offline marketing that works best for you.
Don’t: Rule Out Cold Calls
Cold calls may make you break out in a sweat. People don’t particularly like hearing sales pitches from someone they don’t know. There are a couple of things you can do to make contact personal and increase your chances of gaining an audience with a potential lead. First, send a letter before calling and let the individual know what you do and how you can help their business or personal life.
Do your research before getting in touch. Figure out the exact issues your lead faces and present the solution. If you can talk them into letting you buy lunch, set up a face-to-face meeting to discuss details. At a minimum, you’ll make an exciting new connection.
At all points in the process, keep in mind your company philosophy and how you want the world to see you. Don’t push too hard or get off the message. If you want to let the other party know you offer the best customer service, show it in the way you handle the call or meeting. Throw out some free, helpful tips without expecting anything in return.
The best branding efforts combine different types of marketing strategies for a multichannel experience. If a consumer stops by your booth at a local festival and later visits your website, the aesthetics and messaging should match. If they get a flyer at their home and stop in your brick-and-mortar store, the experience should remain consistent. No matter at what touchpoint the customer interacts with you, they should immediately recognize your business model.
About the Author!
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.