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While the holiday season seems like a distant memory, I recently cleaned my desk and found a holiday card from Chewy.com. The front of the card is a cartoon of dogs, cats, a lizard and a fish in a fishbowl, all toasting marshmallows over a fire, it’s a sweet card that brought a smile to my face when I received it amongst holiday cards from friends and family. The inside of the card contained a holiday greeting, customized to me (the purchaser), written in a font that looks like handwriting. The message is about holiday cheer, a joyous new year with my pet, and thanking me for “allowing us to spread joy to your furry loved ones.” Sweetly signed “Warmest wishes and wet kisses, Your Chewy Family!” No sales pitch, no coupon, just a nice holiday note to say thank you, we value you as a customer, and we love that you trust us to be a part of your pet’s life. The back of the card reminds me that they are “always happy to help, 24/7” and provided their phone number, four social media icons, and a hashtag. Simple, on brand, timely, sweet, and relevant. Nicely done, Chewy.com.

Branding can show up in various experiences, whether it’s your own personal brand, a product or service, or even a place. Jana, my best friend of 35 years texted me recently, asking if I had time to watch the sunrise in Hawaii over FaceTime. That’s a hard ask to refuse. As I watched the sun emerge perfectly framed between the Mokes, two tiny islands in the distance, I listened to the waves gently rolling on the beach, and Jana’s voice as we talked story, and noticed an instant effect on me. The familiar sounds created a sense of calm, warmth, peace and beauty. I imagined myself sitting on the beach next to her, smelling that sweet-salty air that is everywhere on the islands. My brand association of Hawai’i is a way of life, the spirit of aloha, an ethos of pono, the feeling of ‘ohana, and being outdoors to soak up all the beauty and feel the benefits of grounding. I have created what Hawai’i’s brand promise is to me, and those brand attributes are top of mind for me whenever I think about Hawai’i. While I have written about the importance of messaging and content as part of a branding strategy, imagery and color association should align as well, and there is truth behind the old adage of a picture is worth a thousand words. A special mahalo to Jana for providing the image in this post. If you have a sudden urge to visit Hawai’i after reading this, it’s a completely normal reaction (and one you should act upon).

While FaceTime may not be a viable option for your marketing plan, social media is an effective way to convey your brand’s image. Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social network owned by Facebook, is getting credit for growing the tattoo industry to $3B+ in recent years (compared to $1.6B in 2007). With more than 1 billion active users every month, it’s no wonder tattoo artists estimate more than 70% of their clients come from Instagram and many clients don’t stop at just one tattoo. While 3 in 10 Americans have at least one tattoo, it is estimated that 5 in 10 Millennials have at least one tattoo. Since 71% of Instagram users are under the age of 35, it’s easy to see the correlation of Instagram and the tattoo industry growth. If your target market includes Millennials, your business needs an active Instagram account. You may be asking why or how did this happen? Before social media, tattoo clients would flip through image books and select a design, hoping the artist would recreate it accurately. Maybe they had a friend who had a tattoo from the same parlor or tattoo artist and relied on word-of-mouth for reputation. Now, people can follow the artist’s Instagram accounts, see the consistency of an artist’s work, as well as their portfolio to understand their capabilities. Tattoo parlors and artists can build a wider-reaching reputation with the photo-sharing app, instead of relying on word of mouth. This can also attract more talent to their shop if they want more artists, which continues to build potential customers. Customers do need to be aware of whether filters and other photo editing tools were used to enhance the actual finished tattoo. Businesses and artists should have a solid strategy to showcase the work, build their brand, and connect with their target audience.

Whether it’s a customized direct mail piece, unplanned brand associations, or using a platform’s capabilities to its fullest potential, branding is an essential part of your marketing strategy. Branding delivers a powerful and effective story for your marketing plan, creating emotional connections with your target customers. Once you have a marketing strategy in place, opportunities are clear through various tactics to connect with your ideal customers through controlled and spontaneous branding opportunities. When your business can achieve more, Marketing Mana is your marketing strategy, branding, and customer expert to get you there faster and see higher returns on your marketing investment. Make an appointment today for an hourly consultation with Alexis to discuss solutions for your marketing challenges and goals.