Branding and brand strategy today are some of the most clichéd and monotonous words heard in marketing conferences, board room discussions and now webinars. What has changed however is the broad definition of the term and the scope of platforms where these can be implied. From smartphone screens to tablets, laptops, inflight and travel entertainment to the parallel universe of the virtual world, the canvas for painting the brand image has exploded, almost as existentially, as the Big Bang that created the universe. And while markets, consumers, the media universe, virtual world and economies themselves are still coming to terms with this massive revolution, it is the marketing minds that hold the answers to the ultimate brand evolution.

While marketing plays a key role in every stage of brand evolution and business success, the tone of advertisement commercials, best exposure to vital demographics and ROI from the process demands dedicated research and clarity of vision. The final branding strategy that results from this research will determine just how aggressively a brand will promote its product or service. Do too little and it spells death at hands of competitors, do too much and it destroys the possibility of an imperative connection with the consumers.

The fine balance, among other factors, is to strike the right exposure to the brand – one that connects the right audience, at the right time and with the right frequency!

If your branding strategy is over the top, the risks involved include:

1. Over Exposure can cause annoyance

With brands shouting over the rooftops, demanding attention on every possible front, the ‘following around’ can pose a serious threat to brand loyalty among customers. Apart from being overly aggressive, it tends to lose its charm, while creating a barrier among the customer psyche that will close themselves to any further brand message or communication.

2. Consistent badgering will promote competition

Overexposure and consistent push may further drive customers to abandon the brand completely and reach out to competition brands to meet their needs. Thus, the well-structured branding strategy can turn into a lottery ticket for the competition

3. Too much Branding can be perceived as dishonest

In an era of the socially aware consumer who is seeking to relate with an honest and meaningful brand to add value to his lifestyle, aggressive branding can come across as a capitalistic endeavour with little or no regards for the end consumer and the world at large. So while the strategy can revolve around socially relevant topics, the treatment can be perceived capitalists, branding the entire exercise a façade.

Essential tools for right branding:

1. Effective branding is more about an effective consumer engagement strategy:

While engagement levels vary depending on the maturity of the brand, there are some basic principles that need to be followed to ensure success. These include an understanding of the fact that the consumers are re-evaluating their needs more often than one might think. Thus, instead of being reactive to the needs, a more proactive approach can help establish a stronger engagement, where the brand can help guide the consumers reinvent themselves.

2. Establish a brand identity that is easily relatable:

A brand identity is the most powerful tool that connects the brand with its audience. Often brands complicate their messaging, using multiple unique value proposition (UVP) in order to get attention. However, this often leaves consumers and stakeholders confused and often frustrated. It is thus important that when the brand evolves, it strengthens its value proposition in alignment with the changing lifestyle demands of its consumers.

3. Create a lifestyle platform that inspires and communicates hope

Brands influence lifestyle and one’s state of mind. Consumers today expect the brand to offer a meaningful lifestyle platform that inspires people and communicates hope. It is not just about the message anymore or the image, but about the actions and how it is communicated. Consumers believe in a value proposition that is genuine and strong enough to impact their lifestyle, inspire people and bring about a holistic change in the world. An effective strategy will focus on these to earn consumer trust and loyalty and create more transparent dialogue and feedback to keep the brand in continuous innovation mode.

The right approach to effective strategy can never be determined by ‘quantity’ of a branding exercise. It is more about building a long term, honest relationship with customers such that they will keep coming back. These connects will eventually ensure the long term results that a one-off sale from an aggressive marketing campaign cannot match up. Thus, it is vital to rely on a strategy which is based on an accurate assessment of audience, a campaign that will engage well with the consumers, and a timeline that understands when to step back and reap the benefits.