Natalie SissonNatalie Sisson is an intrepid traveler and Kiwi entrepreneur who currently lives out of a suitcase.

Don’t you just love to hate those big name brands who always seem to be getting right? You know the ones I’m referring to – The Apple gods, the addictive Starbucks and the sensual Victoria’s Secrets?

At the same time you have to love them because they’re doing a great job at furthering their brand reputation and personality. They’ve created a confident brand by simply knowing who they are, what they stand for and who their target market is. Because of this they then know what to deliver, what value to provide and how to do that.

Let’s take a look at some brand case studies that you can apply to your own marketing efforts using social media, a creative mind and a tiny budget!

Tw-eating Up Tasty Content

Whole Foods is the leading natural and organic food store in the world with nearly 300 locations in North America and the United Kingdom. They are the most popular retailer on Twitter and is a leading example of Twitter’s power to build millions of relationships a single customer at a time.

How do they do what they do?

  • Whole Foods curates their own content plus others!
  • They maintain over 200 Facebook Pages.
  • Manage more than 150 Twitter accounts.
  • They feed in fresh content, variety in the tone of posts, fun information and business updates.
  • They follow their ABCs on Twitter = authority, boundaries, and continuity.

Home is where the heart is

Home Depot uses social media to create lasting brand differentiation by:

  • Recapturing the attention of existing and “on the fence” customers.
  • Connecting with a completely new set of customers.
  • Engaging  associates in ways that are relevant to their lifestyles.

How did they do it?

The Home Depot used Twitter to be trusted, timely, relevant, accurate and appropriate. They also did the following:

  • Participate in online locations that aligned with their brand promise.
  • Started small but built over time.
  • Listened a lot, then tested and learned.

The results were that they created a face to match the brand and put down a building block for long term brand preference and a growing community that knows what the iconic orange apron represents.

Sharpen Your Tools

Sharpies (permanent markers) needed a brand boost.

Their goal was to use social media to increase brand loyalty and advocacy, plus:

  • Give Sharpie brand a “human” voice.
  • Showcase content from real users to inspire and encourage use.
  • Allow consumers to “see behind the curtain”.
  • Build community of Sharpie users, advocates and encourage their consumer input and dialogue as well as listen and learn.

How did they do it?

Sharpie found out who their loyal fans and fanatics were, then they sought them out. Smart yet simple right?

They looked at new media online including You Tube, Flickr, My Space, Facebook, personal websites and blogs. They also looked at traditional media like mags, newspapers, etc.

They then pulled together a blog strategy. They spent just under $2,000 on a WordPress theme, banner and WP guru to create their blog.  The results were a huge amount of hits, an increase in Twitter followers and YouTube channel views.

Sharpie’s key words of wisdom?

  • Listen and respond (talk with, not talk to).
  • Engage audience (tell readers what you’re doing and invite them to get involved).
  • Maintain integrity of the blog (never fake anything).
  • Demonstrate passion and authority.
  • Use lively, personal writing.
  • Offer something new and unique.
  • Link often, including to your competitors (give credit where due).
  • Acknowledge mistakes (You’ll be making them!)

To have a powerful brand remember it’s working out: the who, what, why and how. A powerful brand is the emotional connection that you make to your potential target market.

What these brands have done is to make their clients, customers and fans a part of their brand and allowed their brand to be defined, promoted and built on by their very community.

How can you start doing that today?

Natalie Sisson is an intrepid traveler and Kiwi entrepreneur who currently lives out of a suitcase. Over on her blog she’s intent on finding creative ways for you to run your business from anywhere using online tools, social media and outsourcing. She’s addicted to Ultimate Frisbee and Social Media. You can also find her at @womanzworld.