As a design and branding studio, we specialize in creating the best visual identities for our clients. Those visual identities then become the brand that carries with it the story of your business. In the increasingly difficult battle for relevance and eyeballs, having a great brand is, although one of the most important, only the first step in achieving and maintaining that status. An amazing branding, coupled with proper brand growth strategies will bring awareness, and drive interest, to your business. For us, brand growth can happen through physical or digital mediums. Both are essential to achieving brand recognition within the category your business operates in. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on strategies for relevancy in digital marketing.

The goal of any brand growth strategy is to get prospective customers to purchase your product and become loyal to your brand. Before these strategies are successful in generating sales, they need to be effective in creating brand awareness and interest. After you gain the prospective customer’s interest, it is imperative that your strategies include a call to action or a quick way to capitalize on the interest with a sale. Brand growth strategies do not stop after their purchase. Maybe the most important part of the cycle is that you provide that new customer with the type of brand experience that will inspire loyalty and future purchases. This process requires that brands know their audience and figure out the best way to reach them. In the past, businesses used traditional mediums such as TV, radio, and the newspaper to advertise and reach consumers. Starting about 10 years ago Social Media started changing consumer’s relationship with content and, as a result, changed the game. It has quickly become the focal point for most of the advertising dollars.

It is important for businesses to recognize that digital media is not just one thing or place. A lot of different platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, live within the Social Media or digital game. These platforms behave differently, are used by consumers for different purposes, and impact the consumer’s decision to purchase in distinct ways. Facebook is used on the go, without audio, and users spend little time in the platform. For this, brands should primarily use the platform to give consumers and followers updates. Twitter is also used on the go, with little time, and no audio. Also, Twitter has become, for many, the main source of news and the platform where videos first go viral. It is the perfect platform for brands to respond to what’s current and interact with consumers in a more personal way. Instagram is used as a new form of hanging out, to kill time, users sometimes have the audio up, and there is a lot of shopping being done on the platform. Brands should utilize Instagram to provide inspiration and present themselves in an aspirational way. Interestingly, Youtube consumers are very engaged, use the platform for long periods of time, watch it with audio, and use it primarily for learning. Youtube is the perfect platform for brands to educate their consumers in a deeper way. In terms of numbers, Facebook is still the most used platform with 2.38 billion monthly active users, followed by Instagram and Youtube.

Since Facebook’s birth in 2004 consumer’s relationship with content has changed. We are now living in the Stories and Update Era, where a status update is the new status symbol. In order for a brand to create relevant content, it needs to have a purpose and connect with its audience. Young people want to connect in an authentic way and they are asking their brands to stand for something, not just sell them something. The rise of social media and the Zillenial and Millennial generations has created a culture that expects more from their favorite brands than they do government. This new way of thinking creates an opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers in a deeper, more meaningful way. But, it also creates more competition and places a higher level of responsibility on them to be socially responsible.

There are a few distinct ways that a brand can create content that resonates with large groups of people and boosts their business. First, it is very important that brands pay attention to relevant cultural events and create content that responds to those events. Game of Thrones is a recent example of such a cultural event. Brands like Oreo’s and Johnnie Walker capitalized big-time on the phenomenon by creating Game of Thrones-themed products. Creating content that highlights diversity is the second way brands can cut through Social Media and TV congestion and reach existing and potentially new consumers in a meaningful way. Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign and Smirnoff’s Laverne Cox commercial are two great examples of good content that shows your brand stands for diversity. The third way is creating content through influencers, which is becoming an increasingly popular way for brands to advertise their products.

An influencer is somebody that posts, promote, or endorses your product because he or she has built a social media following and others would follow their advice. Influencer marketing tends to be broken into two sub-practices: Earned Influencer Marketing, which stems from unpaid promoted content by the influencer to further their own personal social growth, and Paid Influencer Marketing, which are marketing campaigns that take the form of sponsorship, advertising or testimonial messaging and can appear at any point in the content. Influencers can range from nano (1K-5K) to mega (1 million and more) depending on how many followers they have and the engagement they receive. It is estimated that by 2020, 5 Billion dollars will be invested on influencers and they will become a part of media planning. In the future, people won’t follow networks, they will follow people. They will follow people if they like them if they think they are an authority on the subject and if they feel reciprocated by that person.

In order to achieve relevance, a brand’s content needs to provide some sort of service to people. For example, making it easy for people to disconnect, support communities of like-minded individuals, provide shareable and memorable cultural currency and give people canvases to enjoy life. This is achieved through masterful storytelling, which is the most important ingredient to great content. Stories are the currency of culture because storytelling is an act of humanity. That is why brands should focus on people with good stories.

Achieving and remaining relevant is harder than ever for a brand. But, there is a road map for brands to achieve success in this increasingly competitive landscape. Digital Marketing will continue growing as the most powerful hub to advertise in. The video will increasingly become the most impactful medium to connect with consumers. These are factors brands need to keep in mind when figuring out who their audience is, generating digital strategies to reach them, and creating content that resonates with them. Relevant cultural events are always going to resonate, diversity is a topic that is growing in importance, and the inclusion of influencers your consumer’s trust and/or like is becoming almost mandatory for digital strategies. Most importantly, brand’s must always present themselves as authentic. In the end, if people like you, they will listen to you. If people trust you, they will do business with you.

Celina Nogueras Cuevas is the Chief Creative Strategist and Co-Founder of Muuaaa Design Studio with more than 10 years of experience creating brands. Celina is an expert in Brand Growth Strategies in order to achieve Brand Recognition inside of the Cannabis Industry. Follow her on IG @Celinanogueras