Similar to the sports world, brand marketing is a highly competitive arena. With new trends, channels, and the promise of virality, technological goal posts constantly shift for communications and marketing professionals. Setting your brand apart from the competition is essential for success.
Thanks to social media, the goals of brand marketers are within reach. Going viral on Twitter or TikTok allows brands to gain cultural relevance and increase awareness faster than ever before. Having a social presence is a top priority. Nearly one in two businesses consider social media their primary channel for external communication while 58% anticipate it becoming their primary channel in the future. About 62% of consumers agree brands and companies that don’t have a strong social media presence won’t succeed in the long run.
Using social media for brand marketing is essential for growth as more people prefer to find products and services online. One in three consumers use social media to learn about or discover new products, services or brands. Along with using social media to discover new products, 80% of consumers expect companies with a social media presence to interact with their customers in meaningful ways.
This is where strong brand marketing comes into play.
What is brand marketing?
Brand marketing is a subset of marketing focused on developing and maintaining a company’s overall reputation. Brand marketing involves a long-term strategy to boost and amplify a company’s recognition and image.
The goal of brand marketing is to increase brand awareness, recognition and trust to create a positive, lasting relationship with your target audience.
There’s a fine line between marketing and brand marketing: sales typically aren’t the root of brand marketing. The benefits of brand marketing aren’t always measurable, making it a long game. It can take time to acquire and retain customers.
Brand marketing is a skill that can help communications professionals make a bigger impact. According to a report by Kantar BrandZ, a stronger brand leads to more shareholder returns and large cash flow contributions. When you have a strong brand, your entire company benefits.
When customers resonate with your core values and understand what makes you different, they stay loyal.
Brand marketing highlights unique traits or attributes consumers think of when they envision a certain brand. It answers the question, “What sets us apart from our competitors?” If you want a loyal customer base, you must continuously communicate your brand’s identity and values.
Some common tactics in a brand marketing strategy include:
- Creating brand engagement on social media
- Recruiting brand ambassadors or influencers
- Crafting a cohesive brand identity and image with logo, color palettes, packaging etc.
- Developing a loyal customer base
Essentially, brand marketing tells the story of a brand’s products or services through purposeful engagement. For example, Nike is one of the world’s well-known sports brands. The Nike check is synonymous with innovation, determination and perseverance. To showcase its brand, Nike frequently collaborates with athletes who symbolize those values.
Now that we’ve defined brand marketing, let’s review some of the best brand examples from the past five years.
6 companies that take brand marketing to the next level with social media
1. Liquid Death Mountain Water
Created by former Netflix creative director Mike Cessario, Liquid Death Mountain Water is a heavy metal-themed water brand. Dripping skulls adorn the tallboy aluminum can, giving the beverage the look and feel of drinking a beer. However, the can contains 100% non-carbonated water sourced from the Alps with an alkaline pH of 8.2.
Liquid Death Mountain Water describes itself as “a funny water company who hates corporate marketing as much as you do,” according to the company’s manifesto (i.e., the “about us” page on their website). This “manifesto” is one of many ways Liquid Death embraces excellent brand marketing. Along with getting people to drink more water and “kill plastic pollution,” Liquid Death is on an “evil mission to make people laugh,” and its tactics to do so are crystal clear.
Time to crack open an ice-cold tallboy and rage with your underage buds! #liquiddeath
Liquid Death sparked conversation online after its 2022 Super Bowl ad aired. The commercial spot showed raging pre-teens and a pregnant woman drinking from tallboys, with the classic Judas Priest song “Breaking the Law” in the background.
The ad made the brand a trending topic on Twitter and amassed thousands of views and shares on other platforms. The commercial originally aired on TV but also ran on social and digital the following weeks. The spot earned over 5.1 million views on TikTok, where Liquid Death continues its brand marketing. Their TikTok page features humorous videos from customers shot-gunning cans to cameos of rappers and skateboard legends like Tony Hawk, an early partner of the brand.
Whirlpool is a 110-year-old home appliance brand capturing the hearts of Gen Z online. Whirlpool earned the #2 spot in the Ad Age-Harris Poll Gen Z brand tracker, which ranked brands making the most progress among ages 18-24 during Q1 of 2022.
Whirlpool’s collaboration with Pinterest is a great example of a legacy company leaning on social media to carry out its brand marketing. The brand joined the platform to create the Whirlpool Virtual Showroom: an immersive, 360-degree experience that allows Pinners to explore laundry spaces and interact with appliances. Pinterest is a popular inspiration hub for home decor and design inspiration, so partnering with an appliance brand is a match made in internet heaven.
According to Pinterest, some 12 million monthly Pinners are looking to remodel their home and 14 million are searching specifically for kitchen appliances. Active pinners are also 1.3 times more likely to purchase household appliances online than the general public.
The company also took advantage of TikTok and created an account after a video showcasing a Whirlpool microwave went viral in 2021. The video shows two friends debating if notes of the microwave’s bell alarm go up or down. One insists the notes go down, while the other believes they go up, ensuing a viral online debate. Whirlpool also benefits from #CleanTok, a popular hashtag highlighting cleaning hacks and helpful home appliances.
Square secured the #1 spot on the Harris Poll by teaching Gen Zers how to become entrepreneurs through influencer marketing. The company collaborated with YouTubers Charlie Chang and Elle Mills to create Career Day, a series showcasing the journey of three small business owners, along with entrepreneurship tips like how to make your business go viral on TikTok. The company also produced a spotlight series, Only In Denver: A Mi Manera, highlighting Latinx-owned businesses.
Square’s brand marketing shines on TikTok as well. The company takes advantage of user-generated content and almost every video on the page features a small business making a product or offering a service.
Planters is a great example of how brand marketing is a long game. On January 22, 2020, Planters announced the death of Mr. Peanut.
It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Mr. Peanut has died at 104. In the ultimate selfless act, he sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most. Please pay your respects with #RIPeanut pic.twitter.com/VFnEFod4Zp
— Mr. Peanut (@MrPeanut) January 22, 2020
Why would a centennial brand kill off a famed mascot? The peanut-shaped character is known for his monocle, top hat and cane. It’s a signal of his confident, sophisticated, charming and humorous personality—he’s truly a nut, get it? Given Mr. Peanut’s longevity, his death (although fictional) raised eyebrows.
This fake tragedy snowballed into the type of internet humor that transforms a simple joke into a viral meme. The announcements gained thousands of Retweets, along with quote Tweets from popular Twitter users, comedians and several major brands. The gag was even mentioned on SNL. The #RIPeanut hashtag was used more than a million times on Twitter.
— Dr Pepper (@drpepper) January 24, 2020
The Tweet was followed by a teaser for the brand’s upcoming Super Bowl ad. The video shows Mr. Peanut saving his friends, Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh, after the Nutmobile zooms off a rocky cliff.
— Mr. Peanut (@MrPeanut) January 22, 2020
The Super Bowl spot later showed Mr. Peanut reborn as #BabyNut, a signal of the brand’s revitalization. In August, Planters continued the campaign by Tweeting about Peanut Jr.’s birthday. The brand continues to reference the life, death and rebirth of Mr. Peanut.
— Mr. Peanut (@MrPeanut) August 11, 2020
Many music lovers and podcast fans look forward to getting their Spotify Wrapped stats at the end of the year. Spotify listeners have shared their personalized, data-driven playlists for the past few years. Now, it creates a sense of FOMO for non-Spotify users who yearn for a similar personalized experience. Spotify Wrapped illustrates the customer loyalty brand marketers strive for.
Although the campaign launched in 2015, the brand changed the 2020 campaign approach slightly.
In previous years, Spotify users could see their Wrapped data on the brand’s website. In 2020, the brand made Wrapped exclusively for Spotify mobile, requiring users to download the app if they weren’t already using it. The Wrapped website was created for non-Spotify users.
The app also included several new features, including in-app quizzes, new Wrapped badges and customization options for sharing on social media. Wrapped was responsible for increasing Spotify’s mobile app downloads by 21% percent during the beginning of December.
The streaming service launched Artist Wrapped in 2020, which led to musicians and podcasters thanking their listeners on social media. These shout-outs, paired with memes about Spotify Wrapped FOMO, amplified the brand’s reach to millions of users while also maintaining customer retention.
Before Spotify Wrapped became another end-of-the-year anticipation, it was called “Year in Review.” The 2015 iteration reached over 5 million website visits and over 1 million social shares. Five years later, more than 90 million users engaged with Wrapped and over 60 million shared theirs on social media.
Alex Bodman, the Global Executive Creative Director at Spotify, oversaw the 2021 Wrapped, noting it as “the biggest, most impactful campaign of the year.” Along with adding more features like audio auras and artist thank you videos, the brand worked with agencies and data scientists to curate the campaign for 33 markets.
In early March 2021, Neutrogena announced R&B duo Chloe and Halle as the new spokespeople for the beauty brand. Between Grammy nominations, solo performances and Halle’s new role as Disney’s Ariel, the sisters are fresh-faced talents who embody Neutrogena’s brand values.
The sisters grew up using Neutrogena’s products and they noted how the partnership aligned with their desire to promote an inclusive brand campaign with products for all skin tones and types. The brand launched its first TikTok campaign, Skin U by Neutrogena in the following months.
Chole and Halle supported the campaign by encouraging customers to apply via TikTok. In the video, the duo urged fans to create a video explaining why they should be part of the Skin U program. Applicants had to use the SkinU song, follow Neutrogena, and use the hashtags #skinU and #contest. They also expressed the campaign’s various prizes, including $5,000 and a one-on-one lesson with Neutrogena scientists.
Why you need social media to support your brand marketing strategy
Social media has a significant influence on brand marketing. Customers want and need to know what makes your brand stand out from the crowd. Consumers are more likely to flock to social media to get recommendations from friends, family and influencers.
Social media is a valuable communication tool brand marketers use to interact with customers and boost brand image in real-time. A positive reputation paired with loyalty could lead to record sales and new customers. Reflect and think about how to craft the most effective brand marketing experiences for your audience. Consider if it’s time to break up with your biannual brand survey and devise a new game plan.
Creating positive experiences online will help you reap the benefits of the long game you’ve played. So, don’t be afraid to take the shot.
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