The key to achieving significant brand exposure could be a single creative spark.
In a modern world where every marketing decision tends to be the product of exhaustive data analysis and run through sophisticated algorithms, it is possible to overlook the huge ROI potential for using creativity to increase brand exposure. Getting exposure for a brand should be the next step after implementing a brand strategy that has exhaustively defined the brand.
While “brand exposure” can be difficult to precisely measure, any brand should plan to increase their exposure in order to reach more customers. When a brand is exposed to a wider audience, it can enjoy the benefits of brand equity, which is the value associated with a brand that is well-known and positively perceived. Endowed with brand equity, a brand is given the benefit of consumer trust and can lead to having customers who are loyal or even actively advocate for your brand.
It is critical that brands put effort into building exposure. How to go about that can be more challenging.
Why use creativity to increase brand exposure?
As artificial intelligence solutions and detailed analytics give companies access to more data, it becomes easy to allow creativity to take a back seat to more exact methods of targeting your audience and focusing on key performance indicators to fine-tune your approach. While no business would argue for doing away with creative solutions, not all robustly encourage it. Any creative brand strategy will usually include a fair amount of risk.
Companies that are reluctant to deal with the uncertainty that comes with creative solutions run their own risk of becoming dull and uninteresting to consumers. To quote Leo Burnett, “To swear off making mistakes is easy – all you have to do is swear off having ideas.”
Creativity, paired with data-backed planning, becomes a must for any brand looking to increase market awareness and gain exposure. Only by tapping into strategies that utilize art, excitement, and emotion can companies find the right formula that will push their brand into the consciousness of otherwise distracted consumers.
To start you off, think about the positive things your consumers are already saying about your brand. Not only can this feedback be taken into account as you continue to improve your company for your customers, but the positive things that have been said can be used as marketing tools in future advertising campaigns.
Read on for seven more creative ways to increase brand exposure.
1. Create targeted branded content
Content marketing is a well-known strategy for increasing brand exposure. Companies can fill their website with valuable blog posts or user-generated content that helps drive traffic. This is a very effective way to get your brand in front of people, but thinking outside the traditional company blog can propel brands even further.
Take, for instance, the swimwear company Rip Curl and its illustrious surf-centric media site The Search. Filled with impassioned writing, jaw-dropping ocean images, and cinematic video shorts, The Search perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Rip Curl without having to make any direct references to the brand name or products. The brand is enhanced by the association alone and strategically targets Rip Curl’s key audience with content that is far from a sales pitch.
Of course not all companies have the luxury of crashing ocean waves to build up their brand, but all companies should have a buyer persona in mind that they can target with their content. For over 120 years, The Furrow has been a trusted farming resource for John Deere’s tractor-buying customers – in fact some have labeled it the world’s oldest example of content marketing.
No matter what the makeup of a brand’s consumers, it’s nearly certain that there is some kind of content that will be valuable to them, be it a blog, podcast, LinkedIn article, or eBook. Using creative brainstorming, you can discover new and exciting ways to generate content that will entertain and engage.
2. Partner with other brands
Nearly 45 years ago, funk band War asked “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” – and it remains a powerfully useful questions for companies to ask when trying to gain more brand awareness. Co-branding can be an especially effective strategy to introduce a brand to an entirely new segment of consumers while creating a unique and possibly even newsworthy experience.
That’s precisely what happened when AirBnB paired with the Art Institute of Chicago to offer art fans the opportunity to spend a night in a Vincent Van Gogh painting. The partnership garnered volumes of positive press for both the room-sharing travel site and the venerable Midwestern art museum.
There have been some particularly creative brand partnerships in the travel industry. Sundance TV partnered with Visit Seattle to showcase personal stories set in the city – including one short film from musician and grunge icon Dave Grohl which helped promote the city from an emotional, rather than tourism-focused, perspective.
In a similar fashion, NYC & Co paired with Nickelodeon for the mission of making the hustle and bustle city of New York more family-friendly. The campaign highlighted the new SpongeBob SquarePants Broadway show, and also advertised in other cities with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles acting as kid-welcoming ambassadors to the Big Apple.
For a successful brand partnership to work, you don’t necessarily need to involve famous artists or Saturday morning cartoons. It’s possible to form a strategic brand partnership and come up with a shared opportunity that can be publicized to both brand email lists or over social media. The key is creating something that lets you to introduce your brand to a whole new receptive audience.
3. Decide if humor works for your brand
There are few creative methods for building brand exposure that are as high-risk and high-reward as utilizing humor. A smart and funny video or campaign can do wonders for getting a brand exposure, but a misfire could have negative consequences. It all depends on the brand identity and the brand’s target market.
Using humor on social media has proven especially effective for some brands; Wendy’s and Moon Pie have made headlines with their sarcastic and sometimes bizarre Twitter musings. This has allowed simple fast food and snack brands to relate to new, younger customer demographics in a whole new way.
Humor can be especially effective when it comes as a surprise from a brand, especially in the B2B space. One wouldn’t expect biting corporate satire from a stock image company, but that is exactly what Dissolve did with their “This Is a Generic Brand Video” spot on YouTube. With its spot-on parody of all-too familiar brand ads, the video garnered over 2 million views and won a Shorty Award in 2015.
The same goes for another B2B company, Phonexa. Companies in the call tracking and analytics space don’t usually utilize traditional commercial videos. This is exactly why the company decided to produce and release a comedic ad spot – to stand out and get exposure in a crowded marketplace.
What is critical for brands to keep in mind is that their use of humor aligns with their brand identity. A B2B company may be able to release a comedic video or engage in some April Fool’s Day fun, but creating a completely irreverent Twitter feed could confuse and turn off target customers. Brands need to know who they are trying to reach with their creative initiatives in order to decide if humor will help them get more exposure.
4. Tell your brand’s story
Using creativity to increase your brand exposure is primarily about establishing an unexpected connection with consumers. One simple way to do this is by telling the story of your brand.
Eyeglasses upstart Warby Parker found a smart way to do this by including its story on the cleaning cloth that comes with every pair of glasses. The cloth proclaims “Warby Parker in 100 Words” and then proceeds to use precisely 100 words to explain their founding. Any time one of their customers cleans their glasses they are reminded of the company’s history and unique brand identity.
Sometimes a brand can get exposure by telling its story to a whole new population segment. Chanel is a brand that has been around for over a century and is commonly associated with high-end luxury – meaning its core audience trends a little older.
But in a vibrant and artfully designed video, Chanel shared the story of founder Coco Chanel in way to appeal to a broader, younger audience. The biographical spot allowed the brand to frame itself as a triumph of hard work and a revolutionary force in women’s fashion and empowerment.
There is no shortage of ways a brand can share its story, either by making inroads for the first time or reintroducing itself to new audience segments. Sometimes a founding story can be compelling enough to merit press coverage. The creative challenge lies in seeing how your brand can use its story to form a bond with consumers.
5. Use events creatively
For brands looking to have an outsized impact on getting their name out there and raising awareness, creative live events can be a useful path forward. Events have an innate excitement and spurn curiosity – they also bring your brand into the “real world.” In an era when there is so much focus on digital efforts, there is something attention-grabbing about literally putting your brand in front of people.
It worked for SaaS giant Salesforce. Back in 2000 when Salesforce was just a startup, it was looking for a way to announce their brand and its intention to disrupt the CRM software space. They did so by proclaiming “The End of Software” in mock protests at the DEMO 2000 tech event and later hosting a party where attendees were encouraged to toss software boxes into garbage cans. The stunts offered a massive return on minimal investment: Salesforce was named a “Company to Watch” and their events captured the spotlight of major business publications like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.
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Brands can utilize live events in a number of ways. A well-publicized anniversary party can showcase a company’s growth and achievements. Interactive displays can illuminate the curiosity of everyday people, like the “shark bite” surfboards that the Discovery Channel left along an Australian beach to promote the 10th Anniversary of Shark Week. By finding creative ways to engage with people through events or everyday interactions, your brand can successfully introduce themselves to new audiences.
6. Leverage exclusivity
While it can seem counterintuitive at first, sometimes the best way to get more exposure for your brand is starting by targeting less people. Creating an air of exclusivity or even mystery can naturally generate more buzz and excitement.
This has proven effective in tech. Facebook famously started by only being accessible to college students. In 2006 when it became available to a wider audience, it had roughly six million users (still short of MySpace with 30 million users at the time). Two years later, it would skyrocket to 100 million. Similarly, Evernote began with early adopters on a beta version and built enough buzz so that its availability to the public became a tech news event.
Like utilizing humor, brands need to have a firm grip on their target audience and brand identity to decide if exclusivity is the right method to get brand exposure. It was perfect for American Express and their Centurion Card. Reportedly the “Amex Black Card” was already a myth before its creation – luring in even famous spokesperson Jerry Seinfeld. By the time the card was actually launched, it had already achieved almost legendary exposure thanks to perceptions of exclusivity.
7. Forge your own brand consumer identity
Undoubtedly, one of the strongest ways to boost a brand’s exposure is by having satisfied customers who are eager to advocate for that brand via online reviews or other platforms because it aligns closely with their own identity, often clearly defined with brand language.
Perhaps no brand has done this better than Apple, which has consistently tied its brand to consumers’ identity for over 40 years. By developing a brand image that paints Mac users as alternative, creative, and cool, Apple was able to become one of the most well-known brands in the world, eliciting religious-like fervor among some of its devotees.
Another brand that has been able to successfully leverage its own consumers as part of its brand identity is Jeep. Born out of days as a widely-used transport during World War II, Jeep has become a powerful brand that is associated with ruggedness and adventure. This powerful brand association has created fans who have their own Jeep blogs and stay devoted to the brand even in the face of critics. Jeep smartly leans into its own customer fandom with ads that reinforce those same brand associations.
When a brand is able to cultivate such intension passions among its customers, they create advocates that will increase the brand’s exposure all on their own.
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Ultimately, the goal of any brand is to reach similarly robust levels of customer promotion. The early phases of such success comes from taking care to expose a brand to as wide and receptive of an audience as possible. This requires creative brainstorming working in tandem with valuable data collection and analytics. Most importantly, it requires a strong brand identity so you can decide which creative solutions could be the perfect fit.
Mark is a Content Writer at Phonexa, where he specializes in covering call tracking, business intelligence, lead generation, and marketing strategy.
Feel free to follow him on Twitter for company updates, tech musings, and an excessive amount of Chicago Cubs fandom.