The term “brand echo” isn’t just our agency’s nomenclature—it’s an entire philosophy toward building a successful brand footprint for your business, product, cause or venture. At its root, creating a brand echo is all about developing a unique brand statement that’s both distinctive and powerful—one that becomes uniquely recognized, meaningful, and deeply impactful to intended audiences. This brand statement—because of its memorability, way of connecting people and businesses, and fresh identity—is the very essence of what “sticky” consumer and constituent relationship building is all about, and it often represents the point at which a brand becomes truly synonymous with the widget or service being sold, if not the entire industry or category.
A genuine brand echo—when properly set in motion—can and does generate organically, but only after a great deal of hard work. Once foundational awareness is established and momentum for greater adoption takes hold, a brand identity that’s positively embraced can quickly catch fire as long as a steady stream of innovation and fresh thinking are available to continually nurture and aid its progress.
But first, a little perspective behind the “echo”…
Although the notion of brand building, as we know it today, came into being during the so-called Golden Age of Advertising (the period during the mid- to later 20th century), it’s certainly not a new concept—at least in the generic sense. Governments, religious groups, military institutions and the like throughout history all built and established public “identities” or personas to further their respective influence and reach. But the modern era of brand cultivation has taken identity development to a whole new level of sophistication. Today, brand building is a carefully orchestrated, strategic art based on a complex series of associations.
And, thanks to technology innovation, our contemporary digital world presents literally an omni-channel canvas through which companies and thought leaders can present and grow a brand footprint—creating multi-faceted, integrated options for marketers. When that brand footprint manages to effectively resonate throughout core circles of influence to create a flourishing and participatory brand community that is both loyal and interactive, a “brand echo” is born. This echo is made all the more powerful when it enables a brand entity to truly stand apart from others in their segment or business space—extending brand associations beyond just awareness to direct point-of-sale incentive and purchase (and repeat purchase) intent.
In a nutshell, a brand echo is the collective awareness (both positive or negative) that a commercial organization, individual, cause or campaign has in the eyes of its audience. A desirable brand echo, naturally, arouses positive connotations. It may reflect broader lifestyle implications and connections. It may be evolutionary in nature, leading other individuals, or even an entire business category, to strive for greatness. It may signal a breakthrough or marked achievement in a particular field or sector—and it generally espouses an aspirational, goal-oriented relationship with intended audiences that motivates and also drives progress. Executed correctly, an effective brand echo can help businesses and organizations receive greater attention for the work they do and for the products and services they bring to market—creating customer-driven conversations that are sustained and ongoing.
So, what are the core tenets of an effective brand echo? Among other factors, a good brand campaign involves four primary areas:
And, each of the above is uniquely relevant to the brand experience.
Good brand building can help to position a company, or an individual’s, offerings through a fresh, and even disruptive, lens—via a new visual image, identity, slogan or presentation. The branding discipline can help an organization to present its best offerings in the most positive light—highlighting performance attributes and strengthening their meaning to key audiences. It can also help to influence how popular these offerings become with common audience groups. What a good branding effort CANNOT do, however, is change inherent product quality (or lack thereof), customer service, CRM or supply chain effectiveness. That’s the work of the organization or individual itself.
Good branding CAN augment what a company is doing right, and help to place its product in a broader spotlight where it can get the attention it deserves, especially if the deliverable or offering is truly exceptional. To this end, a good brand echo requires, at the onset of any campaign, the existence of a quality product or service that makes a positive impact in the community or industry. A successful branding campaign then works, in turn, to accentuate the many merits of that brand’s standout offering, which is in essence its “brand character.”
Growth of a solid brand footprint is also rooted in truthful and compelling “story-sharing,” which is driven and disseminated by quality content. For this reason, the creation of unique, intuitive communications and marketing materials—that work across marketing channels—goes hand-in-hand with helping a good brand to reverberate among intended audiences. In today’s communication environment, an occasional social media post no longer counts as effective content. Superb story building involves the use of video, live and immersive experiences, viral materials, GIFs, memes, chats, webinars, online serials, interstitials, and multiple other media (both on- and off-line) to reach vast points of contact. And, it must remain fresh and timely—constantly stimulating the consumer or recipient with new questions, experiences and real-time relationship building. Good content also must present a unified “brand voice” that’s strong and distinct, and that ideally represents the desired values and core beliefs of its intended audience. Most importantly, it must be genuine and supported by tangible assets, verifiable product claims and facts, and “brand differentiation” that is lasting—to help set it apart from others in the category.
The most effective brand identities and campaigns encapsulate, not just one individual experience, but also a shared, collective experience that resonates within a common community. The ability to create a marketing phenomenon that has a trickle effect across multiple recipients within a broader sphere of influence is difficult to achieve. But when a product or service truly answers an unmet need within a mass or niche marketand is able to share and communicate its vision in a compelling manner, it then has the potential to community-build on a far broader level.
Community acquisition, in turn, can lead to mass trial and adaption—the Holy Grail of successful marketing. If that brand phenomenon can go even a step further and align with a broader societal cause, opinion, passion or cultural shift, it is positioned to make an even strong and more substantial impact. The first step: Truly understand your own product and its audience, and identify how your offering can fulfill expectations among your core user group like no other—and then join that community. Don’t just market TO, but rather become a contributing PART of, your intended audience group and earn a trusted relationship that is reciprocal, instead of one-directional.
So let’s say your organization possesses a quality product or service. It has a great story, and a credible corporate parentage that is solvent and demonstrates social responsibility that resonates with many. It also creates compelling ongoing content, and has established a robust community within which to engage. There is still one powerful ingredient that really successful brands—the ones that get people talking at the water cooler—almost always possess: the contagion factor. Contagion is what makes a consumer product a “must have,” what makes a story a “must share,” or an individual a “must follow.” Contagion is the hardest element of a successful brand footprint to achieve because it is the least commercial—and most holistic—in nature. But when you’ve got it, it’s gold.
Communications experts know that word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer sharing is the single most effective form of organic marketing. More powerful than advertising, earned media, shopper marketing, or paid social. It’s true that certain trends just seem to just “click” because their time has come, while others are bypassed for unknown reasons and relegated to the annals of marketing history. And, yes, there is a certain amount of luck at play, but there’s no question that a strategic marketing that’s really smart and inventive—and that follows proven tactics for generating effective brand awareness—can help immeasurably to ripen the playing field.
There are several tangibles to watch that can and do offer tactically sound ways to boost your “echo”: Influence, Associations, and Timing.
Influence involves creating thought leadership at the most granular levels. This includes tapping brand ambassadors, pundits, and experts to help sell your product or story, and open doors of influence so that your target audience can become properly exposed to your brand. This concept is, of course, important in life, as well as in business. Visibility can truly be everything and the importance of a well-placed contributed article, breakthrough speech, endorsement or introduction should never be overlooked.
Similarly, associations with beneficial individuals or kindred organizations can offer a wealth of opportunity. A shout out from a YouTube star or blogger with strong influence within your target audience base, a compelling research study jointly conducted with a marquee analyst group, or a strategic partnership with an admired “like” brand that holds sway in your same business category, can be critical game changers.
Third, timing is everything. Good branders are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to interject their product or service into a timely broader dialog. At our agency, we call this Amplifying the Conversation—and it can be a very effective technique for heightening attention to your organization. Seasonal campaigns, cultural landmarks, and other juggernaut social “events” can present once-in-a-lifetime windows to connect with a broader audience in a truly dynamic fashion that completely alters the playing field—and these opportunities are often fleeting.
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Any company or organization with a really good product offering or story to tell, can create a brand echo of their own. While there is no single magic bullet for achieving successful brand recognition, creating sustained awareness that resonates across multiple channels and with multiple consumer targets pays off, but it takes hard work and ingenuity.
The current field of marketing and branding is both dynamic and fascinating because it resides at the new intersection between business, human interaction, and the intricate social fabric of our modern society. Savvy marketers understand these nuances and look at all communications challenges first and foremost through a brand building foundation. Good brands are true gems that can become a bigger part of our cultural ethos—and stay in consumer hearts and minds for generations to come, with a well-planned strategy and good dose of creativity. Companies and organizations that stay mindful of the experiential and tangible drivers that make for a really great brand story understand what creating an echo is all about—and seize every moment to place their brand into a far more powerful spotlight.