Whether you’re a startup or a well-established company, chances are that you’ve given at least a little thought to how you want your company to be perceived.
Perhaps you are the bell-weather firm that acts as a seasoned advisor. Perhaps you are the energetic startup that isn’t afraid to show an edge. Regardless, you are portraying a brand identity.
The question is, are you successfully creating that brand identity in every interaction that you have with customers or potential customers, or are you failing to leverage keys branding touchpoints?
The changing brand landscape
Branding is an ever-evolving art form. With constant changes in social media, content marketing, thought leadership and consumer behavior, it can be a challenge for brands to keep up and make sure their branding is on point.
But having a solid brand is imperative when it comes to creating and maintaining customer trust and loyalty. You need to consistently work on building relationships with your customers — and staying relevant, inspiring and purposeful — in order to stand out from the crowd and make your customers pay attention to you.
Customers want a brand they can relate to and derive meaning from. It doesn’t matter if you’re a giant company or a tiny startup, you should be doing all you can to leverage the power of your brand.
Here are five common branding strategies that can do wonders for your brand but that a lot of companies fail to implement.
1. Boosting Brand Engagement With Customers
You have to get creative about how you engage with your customers. Don’t follow the old rules — break them and make your own. If you are releasing a new product, think of a way you can launch it with panache instead of just doing a dry ad campaign. Give it away for the first four hours. Pair the release with a concert.
Think about what differentiates your brand, and make that a unique part of your engagement with customers. Surprise them.
2. Being Relatable
A lot of brands suffer from identity crises. They try to be too many things at once, and customers find them impossible to relate to. Your value and strengths should grow along with the changing needs of your audience. Keep your brand simple, and don’t make it hard to figure out what you do. Think about IKEA. The company sells furniture and housing stuff.
What does Coke do? Did you think “sells soda”? Yes, but it’s more then that, they sell little bottles of happiness. What do you do?
Your customers need to be able to grasp your identity within seconds — it shouldn’t take any explaining.
3. Delivering on your Brand Message
Maybe you have your messaging totally down already. That’s great! But it means literally nothing if you aren’t delivering on it. You can say as much as you want, but as far as your customers are concerned, there is no value in your words unless they can really see the difference.
In 2008, Pepsi spent more than a billion dollars on a rebranding that meant nothing to consumers. Why did it fail? Because it didn’t deliver any changes or new value to their customers.
4. Giving Back
Brands that share their success with their audiences are the ones that end up being successful. Unfortunately, too many businesses are so focused on the bigger picture that they forget to have a giving spirit.
Every brand has customers and supporters who helped them grow along the way. Being an awesome brand isn’t just about raking in big bucks — it’s about sharing the awesomeness and success of your brand with others.
Consumers are genuinely affected by brands that take the time to interact with the communities they serve and that participate in and support charitable events and activities.
Speaking of Pepsi, it’s doing an awesome job of this with its environmental sustainability project. You might not have millions of dollars to give away, but remember that even a heartfelt thank you can go a long way.
5. Rewarding Customers
Your customers are awesome! They are the only reason your business is afloat. So why do so many companies fail to reward them? Customers can be return shoppers and never get recognized. What does this tell them? It’s loud and clear: THEY DON’T MATTER TO YOU.
That’s not exactly the right message to send to your beloved audience, is it? No. There are many ways to offer rewards and to acknowledge your customers and thank them. You can offer deals, free stuff, access to exclusive events or info … the sky’s the limit.
Branding is about more than your logo, letterhead, and website. It’s about creating an identity that lives in the minds of your customers and potential customers. Your brand identity represents everything that you are as a company; your style, your personality, your message, and your promise.
The secret to creating, not only a successful brand, but a thriving brand is attention to detail. Be deliberate with every word you use or action that you take, whether in the realm of marketing, sales, or customer support.
There is no point in the customer lifecycle that individuals interacting with your brand aren’t drawing conclusions about who you are as a company and whether that identity fits with what they are looking for.
Leveraging the power of your brand means succeeding at each of these strategies and staying in touch with your customers. You have to work to get to know your audience, relate to them and give them what they need. It’s the best possible way to build your business and continue to grow a solid, loyal audience.
As we’ve discussed previously, we highly recommend that every company, regardless of size, create and religiously use a brand style guide. It’s very existence is aimed at consistency for your brand across all mediums.
If branding is a mystery to you, if you are struggling to create the foundation to build your brand on, or if you’re struggling to stay true to your brand across all of your touchpoints, we highly recommend working with a brand consultancy agency or group.