Branding, for all intents and purposes, is more than a logo. It’s an experience that permeates every imaginable touchpoint. While we’d never dismiss the power of a credible, well-designed mark, good branding goes beyond visually stimulating our audience, and exists where it is continually engaging and influencing on a holistic level. Arguably, one aspect of a well-thought-out brand strategy is determining and defining the tactics focused around conversion. What behavior do we want our audience to change or to maintain in order to grow? This is where social marketing comes into play.
Social marketing, not to be confused with social media marketing, is a systemic approach aimed at positively impacting society by focusing individuals’ behaviors. At its base, social marketing first identifies a need followed by an understanding of peoples’ perceptions of that need. Put simply, only when we understand the scale of perception can we begin to identify the appropriate segmentation and fittingly develop our tactics for desired audience action. While social marketing is a collection of inspiration drawn from commercial marketing and social sciences, the root desire is to understand people and how to influence people to take action; branding seeks to understand how to best connect with our audience across every touchpoint in the hopes that our audience will act.
Examples of brands, arguably, applying social marketing approaches to strategically identify their audiences’ needs are Nike and Apple. While both companies stylistically utilize emotional branding as their method of connection, the foundation for their meaningful creative begins with solid strategy and viable conversion goals specific to their audiences. Social marketing teaches us to vet conversion by assessing our audiences’ perceptions to appropriately determine how to best influence action. Nike and Apple have determined that appealing to audiences’ emotional sensibility yields the highest conversion. While emotional appeal may or may not be the appropriate mode of communication for your business, we can examine our understanding of our audience(s) and incorporate social marketing approaches into our greater brand strategy to connect with and focus the behavior we want our audience(s) to change or maintain.
When thinking about your brand, how are you guiding your audience through conversion? Have you examined your audiences’ perceptions of a particular need to measure the relevancy of your message? If not, how sure are you that you’re effectively influencing your audience(s) to act on those messages?