Everybody has now turned to digital branding.
Most business has transitioned into the digital sphere since the inevitable effect caused by the launch of World Wide Web 2.0. Branding activities are no exception.
However, as potent as online branding is, offline branding is still crucial to a certain degree.
After all, for example, there is a sense of legitimacy to see your brand featured on giant billboards rather than on an online blog.
So what is offline branding?
It is defined broadly as a mix of marketing strategies to bring about brand awareness, establish brand identity, and generate brand engagement with physical rather than digital materials. These materials can range from print to event banners.
One great advantage you can derive from excellent offline branding is a higher likelihood of getting attention to your branding messages.
Your branding messages might get lost in the shuffle when almost every Malaysian business invests aggressively in online branding. Hence, provided the opportunity and budget, invest in your offline branding.
Various offline branding strategies are still relevant, and here are 6 of them.
1. Business Cards
Regardless of which period, business cards remain one of the most effective and affordable ways to do personal branding offline.
Bring your business cards with you just about anywhere you go. Hand them to whomever you wish to network with.
As believed by many, business cards convey a sense of professionalism.
Instead of a verbal introduction, business cards can do the job and often leave a better first impression. Aside from giving it to someone, you can also slip and pin them anywhere you think will increase your brand awareness.
Consider customising your business cards if you are a freelancer or work for yourself.
2. Cold Calling
You might feel annoyed if you were on the receiving end of a call trying to sell you something. That is the perception of many people when they receive cold calls.
Despite its perceived futility, making a call is still one of the most personal ways to reach someone.
Like sales, cold calling requires some strategies. It starts with preliminary research.
People will stay on the phone with you if they find your offer relevant to them. In other words, your target audience research is imperative for this type of offline marketing.
As you prepare your cold calling script, avoid coming off as trying to sell something coercively.
Establish a good rapport before going into your offer. It is the most commonly used foot-in-the-door technique.
Even when you don’t close a deal, having a pleasant good conversation will uphold your positive brand reputation.
3. Speak at Events
One of the disadvantages of engaging with your customer online is its impersonality,
More often than not, the customers will feel like they are talking or interacting with a bot. This puts your brand relationship with potential clients at peril.
Speaking at events is one of the face-to-face offline branding strategies that help facilitate personal connection. If possible, attend industry-related events to widen your network and increase your brand exposure.
Aside from events attended by other brands in a similar industry, you can participate in educational events, too.
For example, Colgate Malaysia has always attended various Malaysian universities’ career talks. While their talk greatly benefited the students, Colgate took the opportunity to introduce and display a more personal side of their brand.
If your public speaking skills are excellent, your brand will leave a positive first impression among potential customers or other business leaders.
Additionally, providing your insights when speaking at these events lends a certain sense of legitimacy and professionalism to your brand. Therefore, in the eyes of the public, your brand will be recognised as such.
4. Branded Merchandise
As you pass through certain famous Malaysian food courts, you will see some chefs wearing white shirts with the brand’s name “Ajinomoto” in red. While the chef is neither connected to nor sponsored by Ajinomoto, you now recognise the brand.
This marketing strategy, known as branded merchandise, has been around for quite a long time.
From the formal corporation’s provided t-shirt to a custom-made mug sold by influencers, branded merchandise is a proven effective offline branding strategy. Customers will value your branded merchandise more if it benefits them.
The most popular helpful branded merchandise in Malaysia includes shirts, USB sticks, reusable bags, and mugs.
Starbucks, for example, is masterful with its branded merchandise. Regardless of which Malaysian Starbucks outlets you visit, their branded merchandise will be displayed nicely at a spot easily seen.
5. Print Media
Believe it or not, print media is still as effective as content marketing in achieving your brand objectives.
While the print media often have gatekeepers, they have an extensive readership base. Besides, getting featured in the print media gives your brand more credibility than social media.
However, there are challenges to using print media as your offline branding strategy.
Since most print media has gatekeepers, you will have little control over your brand messaging. As much as you would like to sustain your brand consistency, sometimes a few changes in your brand messaging is necessary for print media.
There are two options when you decide to invest in print media as your offline branding strategy. You either pay for the media placement or get reported by the media’s editor.
While you have less control over your brand messaging in the latter, you can have total control over your paid advertisement.
You will need to choose suitable media to reach your target audience. For example, if you are an SME, consider paying for media placement in the popular magazine in Malaysia called “SME & Entrepreneurship Magazine”.
There are marketing textbook chapters wholly dedicated to the art and science of packaging. From the choice of colour to the copy on the package, every detail is important for your offline branding.
As superficial as it might seem, looks do matter.
Ferrero Rocher, for example, presents premium-looking packaging for its chocolate to set its brand apart from other chocolate brands. And as you look through the grocery shelves to buy chocolate, you can’t help but notice the distinctive Ferrero Rocher.
Consider customising your packaging for your customers. Although this might be impossible for FMCGs or big corporations, SMEs can utilise such tactics.
The strengthened emotional connection caused by customised packaging, in turn, will increase your brand loyalty.