Targeted branding done right

| June 18, 2019

Branding can be such a vague concept and an elusive goal to achieve. It is discussed in all sorts of contexts – brand identity, brand loyalty, brand value, brand awareness…each term has a slightly different nuance but they are very much linked.

Trying to define what the brand is about on the core, philosophical level is crucial in launching worthwhile marketing campaigns as the brand needs to be articulated in a resonating way and be subtly yet powerfully associated with certain concepts in order to trigger desired reactions from the customer base.

It doesn’t end there. There’s another layer. More often than not, your customer base is not a homogeneous bunch. The mix has so many different colours, shapes, and texture. How you find the commonalities to categorise the group and how you use such segmentation effectively are the questions companies of all sizes struggle with.

Since there is no universally accepted playbook (mainly because ‘branding’ has to be truly unique and personal to each company), the best way to get some insights is by examining real-life case studies of how the clever players played it right. So here we go.

#1. Ecosa

Ecosa is a mattress brand that has gained quite the popularity in Australia. They uniquely achieved clear and consistent yet multivarious brand positioning to break down what they are about in bite-sized, swallowable nuggets. Their brand is unique because their products are based on science and research.

We have long believed that there was one type of mattress that is best for support, which has now been discredited. Ecosa consistently uses the newly discovered evidence against the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model’ to effectively promote itself as the ‘new and modern’ brand whose products are fundamentally designed differently to now provide personalised support for each unique sleeper. By educating the customers about this research and its implications, it was able to establish credibility in the minds of the customers more quickly and strongly.

But where Ecosa shone the brightest was really in their targeted marketing. Check out the Ecosa website for instance. As you can tell by the URL alone, the page is specifically about why their mattress would add value to those residing in Melbourne. It’s not just that they have store locations in the city; it outlines the environmental and living conditions that Melbourners are exposed to and how that would affect their sleep and health.

This was a unique strategy. Mattresses are not ordinarily associated with being location-specific but it worked and for a good reason. By framing the context that is familiar and relevant to this customer segment, the Melbourners, Ecossa was able to get customers to see the value Ecosa’s products can bring to them in a much more tangible manner. Instead of just listing the features (such as being waterproof), they provided a problem-solution matrix that matched Melbourne-specific issue with Ecosa-feature that could help tackle it.

If you are interested, study Ecosa’s website and pay close attention to their language and visuals. The sequence of their content is very intentional as well.

#2. Cotton On

The Cotton On, an umbrella of retailer brands within brands, opened its first store in 1991 in Geelong, Victoria. It then quickly grew to a global company with over 1400 stores in over 18 countries– all within just 3 decades.

There is a multilayered and multileveled branding structure within Cotton On as it clarifies and expands its top-level brand identity as well as the following tiers of sub-brand identities along with its ruthless geographical expansion.

What’s unique and delicate about Cotton On’s top-level brand is that Cotton targets an economic segment that retailers often fear: the middle market. They don’t make the ‘cheapest’ or the ‘best’ of anything. They have branded themselves as the provider of products people love at reasonable prices. It might sound a bit anticlimactic or even underwhelming but this strategy, boosted by rigorous discipline exercised by the Cotton team, allowed them to open about 300 new stores per year globally.

They heavily invest in designing the physical and digital stores, in both content and visuals, to reflect the brand identity and engagement experience in line with this positioning. They group and section products based on multiple factors, not just based on functionalities or gender, in the stores and also offer unique and flexible filter settings online (e.g. seeing products based on volume deals).

The omnichannel and non-restricted network of entry points into the Cotton stores allows customers to browse and interact with the store on their terms; many brands fail at attaining this balance, either creating an experience that feels too chaotic or too controlled, because trying to appeal to such a wide and diverse segment of customers is extremely challenging.

If you ask Cotton On how they accomplished this feat, they always answer that they never stop asking questions about their customer, what they want, and how they want it before they decide on new products, new brands, or new markets.