Branding is not about labeling yourself. Branding is about empowering the positive things that people say about you. You can call yourself a “premium business” if you’d like, but that label holds little merit unless your customers agree with you.
Branding is an ongoing process that encompasses more than just design. As the lifeblood of your company, your brand is endorsed in sales and marketing through to customer service and HR. Your brand exists wherever your customers interact, even if you’re not there to endorse it.
How do you improve your brand?
An authentic brand arises from authentic experiences; you have to be proactive in your search to satisfy your customers. To do so, you need to know exactly what your customers want.
Open your ears to your customer; be there whenever and wherever they talk about you, your competitors, or your industry. You’ll learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses, and devise opportunities to develop customer loyalty.
1. Think before you spend.
Your marketing dollars are best spent in an investment that generates return. But even if you generate positive results from your campaign, you still have to ask yourself: was that really the best use of my time and money? Rather than continually investing into one resource, consider an experiment with your marketing channels or an A/B test on your communication perspective.
Your brand is built on the back of communication. Your paid, owned and earned marketing channels can be categorized into media that you own, pay for, or earn via social communication. Try to maintain your presence in all 3 sectors, and experiment with them on a regular basis. Your brand may succeed well in one channel over another-you can only find out which one(s) if you give them all a shot!
Within each medium, you can perform an A/B test by changing a small line of text or image to observe the results on your key performance indicators. This is a common tactic that marketers use, but you can be a little more specific by changing your branding perspective rather than enforcing product details. Test for the value of a perspective change over attribute enforcement, and see the fruits of your branding labour in action!
- For example, instead of using a product/attribute-focused advertisement…
- “Our veggie-bars contain 50% more nutrients“
- …try using a perspective/branding-focused advertisement!
- “Processed veggie-bars water down the nutritional value. Our organic snacks maximize your nutrient intake!”
You’ll find that by emphasizing your brand’s unique strengths, your statements will steer clear of comparative statements (“more value” or “better features”) and instead leverage the unique strengths of your brand (new lines of thinking, innovative approach). Give your branding campaign a makeover by emphasizing your strengths!
2. Be where your customers are
I recently took it upon myself to find an Instagram scheduler and stumbled upon a thread that discussed the pros and cons of several options. A great discussion was taking place in the comments section, and I noticed that three of the product creators jumped in to answer questions about their own product. The thread almost became an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) of sorts, with great discussion surrounding the ins and outs of Instagram scheduling. The product creators were very adept at answering questions and dismissing rumours about their own product, leading to some impressed and satisfied customers.
Had they [the owners] not taken the extra step to Google their product and jumped in to the conversation, they would have missed the opportunity to develop trust with several potential clients.
Nearly everyone knows about social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, but have you looked into online forums? Specific communities? Reddit – the front page of the internet?
The conversation about your product will occur with or without you, so you may as well be there to give professional endorsement. Remember that, in the end, it doesn’t matter how you label yourself. What matters is how your customers label your brand.
3. Empower your advocates.
Your branding campaign will only go so far. Half of the purpose of advertising is to persuade customers that are “on the fence” about buying your product. The problem is that these customers are often so bombarded with advertisements and company-posted testimonials that additional advertisements will have little effect.
In order to make a decision, these fence sitters will often turn to third-party reviews and “experts” in the industry. It’s ironic, but it makes sense that the most influential aspect of your marketing campaign (3rd party experts) will have nothing to do with your advertising campaign.
In order to empower favorable reviews, you can rely on social media mediums like Twitter and Facebook to retweet and spread word about your advocates without directly influencing their decisions. It’s important to maintain a bystander approach, and only step in when necessary.
Trying too hard to influence a decision will result in damaging the authenticity of your advocate. Instead of leading your followers to a decision, suggest ways for them to maximize enjoyment or value from your product/service. If there are any complaints from detractors, make sure you address them before rumors spread.
Branding your business – concluding thoughts.
- Your brand is what your consumers make of it. In order to improve your brand, you need to carefully analyze the medium(s) where your customers talk about your brand, and empower your advocates while addressing concerns.
- By maintaining your position as a vigilant bystander, you’ll allow your brand to grow naturally. Natural growth is the best kind of growth; authentic experiences will continue to generate value for your brand time and time again.
- Branding is an ongoing process and this is where full-service marketing comes into play. It’s all of your brand assets working together that makes the difference. Make sure all of your marketing initiatives go in line with what you have in your Brand Book.
Got questions about your company’s branding or marketing? Give us a call or visit our marketing agency in Beautiful Vancouver on Robson street. We always have chocolate.