What is Micro-Branding? Traditionally the term has been defined as a local brand serving a specific geographic location or a niche market. However, the discipline has evolved to mean much more. The rapid expansion of the internet has made it possible and sometimes necessary to categorize customer groups into more specific, targeted segments. Large companies and organizations are embracing this practice, realizing the opportunities in marketing directly to the needs of focused consumer groups.
In practice, this concept this is nothing new. For years there have been lesser known products that have found success with small groups of consumers. Specialty wines, fine art, niche products – all bought by thousands of people time and time again – but most of us have never heard of them. They are successful thanks to a relatively small group of enthusiasts with a high brand loyalty. Many times these products find a worldwide audience without achieving mainstream success.
With the advent of the search engines, social media and other inexpensive, yet powerful direct communication tools, it’s now possible for companies to create products or services that are focused on a very specific group of consumers. By pinpointing potential consumer groups that gather together in online sites and communities you have the opportunity to exponentially broaden the number of individuals and groups interested in your brand. Put simply, the internet facilitates reaching enough people with the same interests to make it worth the cost to produce specialized products that may not appeal to mainstream markets.
While traditional mass marketing feels unfocused, unappealing, and full of empty promises, the micro-brand delivers a personalized message through a unique proposition. Additionally, micro-branded products and services can achieve higher brand loyalty by fulfilling a very specific need.
However there are certainly challenges to the micro-branding approach. The first is creating the right message. To appeal to a specific consumer group it is crucial to get it right. Listening to the target community is imperative to understanding their needs and determining how best to communicate the deliverables of your brand. Paying close attention to user experiences and feedback to know where your messaging or perhaps your brand, has failed to deliver on its promise.
But perhaps the most challenging aspect of micro-branding, especially for large companies offering a variety of different products, is not losing brand identity. Care must be taken to make sure that the messages delivered through micro-marketing don’t contradict the core aspects of the brand. Consumer niches provide tremendous opportunity, but aren’t worth perusing if they compromise the identity of the underlying brand.
Craig Johnson is the chief strategist and co-founder of Matchstic, a premier brand identity house. His Atlanta based branding agency helps organizations create passionate brands that are memorable, relevant, and lasting. Specializing in brand development through process driven solutions, Matchstic’s services include: brand audit, brand positioning and strategy, brand and product naming and brand identity development. Matchstic’s brand architects forge positive change and accomplish business objectives through creative thinking and smart design.