Building Brand with Thought Leadership and Creating "Brand Identity" in the age of digital content

Brands no longer exclusively focus on creating products. Instead, they have a voice and point of view that offers value to its customers and defining the brand pillars is an essential way of distinguishing your company from the competition.

Building Brand with Thought Leadership and Creating "Brand Identity" in the age of digital content
Building Brand with Thought Leadership

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” - American Marketing Association.  

Table of contents:  

  • What is a brand, and why does it matter? 
  • The pillars of solid brand building 
  • The 5 Ps of branding 
  • The need for "Brand Identity" in the age of digital content 
  • Thought Leadership as an effective tool for branding and identity development 

What is a brand, and why does it matter?  

A brand is a unique identity that creates a broader customer base and unshaken customer loyalty for a particular seller. It is the sum of all the impressions, associations, and perceptions customers have about a company or product. When you think of pizza, your brain quickly envisions a cardboard box with blue coloured “Domino’s Pizza” printed on it in bold. Someone says iPhone, and you picture a bitten Apple. Branding can affect the way people perceive a product, so much so that it often replaces the original identity of that commodity; like when people want to search for something online, they now say, “Google it”! 

According to research, 80% of the decision-makers factor in brand reputation when considering a business investment. Brands help promote the growth of an organisation and influence that first impression created in the audience’s minds. Every startup must invest in brand building as branding can address two primary concerns of a startup- visibility and investment!  

The pillars of solid brand building  

Brands no longer exclusively focus on creating products. Instead, they have a voice and point of view that offers value to its customers and defining the brand pillars is an essential way of distinguishing your company from the competition.   

The 5 Ps of branding: 

  • Purpose - All the what/whys and hows with respect to your company's mission and vision come under purpose. The reason for starting the company, the goals you are looking to accomplish, the value you contribute, etc. 

  • Perception - How well do your customers perceive you? You can really own your customer's experience with your brand and have them identify with it based on the public's perception of your brand and how they feel about the message you deliver. This means that in order to be successful, you'll have to manage this reputation and make sure it's a positive one.

  • Promise - What are the values you stand for? How well do you embody these values at the organisation level? And are you making an effort to fulfil your promises to your customers? For instance, MIA research showed that only 17% of the participants in the study worked towards embodying their brand values across the organisation.

 

Image source: MIA Research Best Brand Building Practices

  • Personality - This is the identity of your company- your logo, brand colours, culture, aesthetics, the way you communicate, USPs and anything and everything that can help in identifying you uniquely.

  • Professional/personal experience - The kind of experience your customers have upon interaction with your company and the sentiment they take back with them plays a vital role in inculcating customer loyalty and brand recall.

Also read: The Art Of Brand Building - Storytelling & Creative Communication 

The need for "Brand Identity" in the age of digital content 
 
Our forefathers lived in a physical world, we are living in a digital world, and the future generation will be living in the metaverse. What worked for our forefathers will not work for us. With the outreach of the digital economy, consumers have a  vast array of choices from all corners of the world. Suppose you decide to buy a pair of jeans. If you just go online and type “buy jeans online”, you are swamped with the millions of choices. So to make your search easier and save time, you go and add the keyword “buy Levi’s jeans online”, and immediately your search is narrowed down to a few 100 pieces. Branding is not a choice but a need in the digital era. Building a brand identity helps both the consumer and the company. It saves both time and energy at the consumer’s end that would have otherwise gone into browsing through choices and enables you to register your company/product in the minds of your consumers, thereby building higher brand recall. Brand identity is an integral part of the success of a company. The more you can make your brand, the more likely your consumers will trust you and buy from you. 
 
Thought Leadership as an effective tool for branding and identity development 
 
Elon Musk, the charismatic entrepreneur and visionary, is a name that needs no introduction in the tech world. As a thought leader in the industry, his opinion on a subject is often considered decisive, and as a result, today, Tesla motors has become a household name. Branding through thought leadership is so immensely powerful that today if Tesla invests in a new venture, it has a readymade customer base.  
 
Now that we know the power of thought leadership, let us formally understand it. Thought leadership is a term used to describe the process of identifying, articulating and sharing your perspective on a topic or trend in order to shape the conversation around it. It is an effective tool for branding and identity development. A thought leader can be an influencer in their field by sharing their ideas and insights with others interested in that field. The best way to become a thought leader is by being an active participant in the industry and developing your personal brand such that you are seen as an expert in your field, and your opinion is valued. Leveraging the immense popularity & reach of social media, people use blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars etc. to put across their thoughts & opinion. Presenting at conferences or authoring an article or two on a subject of your expertise is another way of developing thought leadership. Thought leaders are a segment of people whom others look up to in times of need.  In promoting themselves, they are not just establishing a personal brand but also adding value to their organisation and bringing them long term customer loyalty. To know more about how to establish yourself as a thought leader, read- The Importance of Thought Leadership in Today's Startup Environment and How to Stand Out From the Crowd 
 
Selling your product and services and immediately gaining customer loyalty can be difficult. Therefore, a startup must invest in establishing its leaders as thought leaders in the industry as this helps in gaining visibility and building a brand identity & customer base who may be interested in your offering. Unfortunately, according to MIA research, only 8% of startup founders thought they were doing the right kind of marketing in order to establish their company's thought leadership, with 30% not knowing how to do it. [1] 

Image source: MIA Research Five Marketing Moves That Startups Must Not Miss 


Conclusion 
 
Traditional shopping involved going to one or two shops of choice (trust) and picking up the item one needs, but with digitalisation, the entire world has become one big marketplace. Therefore, it’s imperative for companies to register themselves as the “shop of choice” to survive in this vast competition and to build a brand is the way to do it. Approaching the concept through thought leadership benefits both the company and the individual in gaining visibility. Establishing thought leadership is an integral part of building a strong brand and nurturing that brand’s identity. Investing time - in writing blogs and eBooks’, participating in awards and conferences, writing authored articles, providing expert opinions- are all ways of placing yourself on a pedestal, above the masses, and encashing your customer base. 
 
To know more about other brand-building practices- download the report.