Branding experts hit the nail on the head when they say that a winning brand conveys why you are your prospects’ only solution. If you can’t achieve that, you should at least convey why you are your prospects’ bestsolution. Of course, the same logic applies to your clients. So make a compelling claim about your business, product or service, and back it up. Branding is critical to the success of any business. It’s more than just a logo; your brand is an intangible asset. It’s the emotions conveyed to consumers when they hear your name. If you aren’t reaching your target audience, now is the time to adjust your branding strategy.
Following are some key elements to help you foster a relationship between your brand and your customers:
What are your core strengths? What do you promise customers? Invest time to determine what you’re good at, thus focusing on your strengths. Your words in turn establish a relationship with customers by laying out your benefits, whether functional, emotional or self-expressive.
Your words can sway consumers into associating certain attributes with your brand. This can shift how they see you in relation to the competitors in your marketplace, potentially even altering who you compete with. Some ingenuity can set you apart from the others to the point that your competition appears bland.
Your Web copy should take into account where you come from, who you are and what you stand for. This is your guiding light. Be authentic. One step beyond your character could tarnish your integrity.
Your website content should reflect the values that give life to your business. While you don’t need to list your core values, your Web copy should draw on this framework. Ensure that it resonates with the values in and around your business.
Your Web copy needs to bring to light your business’ human characteristics, including everything from age to class to personality traits. Get creative with delivery. For instance, many businesses post employee photos on their websites. But why not actually quote employees in your Web content? It’s a great way to put a human face to your company and promote your staff as industry experts.
Does your Web copy represent the emotional elements and values of your business? Demonstrate authenticity and commitment to creating a spirit that’s not only engaging but contagious.
So how can you differentiate your offerings? What’s different about your approach? Perhaps you can leverage:
- Customer service
- Or one of many other factors
There’s no value in everyone knowing you if they don’t know what you stand for and what you can do for them. Plus, the more reasons you give people to choose your brand, the less price becomes a factor in their purchasing decision.
Use words that clearly demonstrate how a prospective customer’s world will be made easier, more lucrative, healthier, happier and so on, with you in the picture. This overall message can then be continually reinforced not just on your website, but also in print materials, advertising, trade show presentations, press releases and so on.
Never forget that words, like design, are the foundation of communication. They help us express, understand and learn. They are invaluable to influencing your visitors’ decision-making process and loyalty.
Choose your words wisely. Failing to do so could result in a brand that’s problematic, rather than a means to a solution.
Create a compelling strategy for your brand.
Your brand is more than your logo, name or slogan — it’s the entire experienceyour prospects and customers have with your company, produce or service.
It’s what you stand for, a promise you make, and the personality you convey. And while it includes your logo, color palette and slogan, those are only creative elements that convey your brand. Instead, your brand lives in every day-to-day interaction you have with your market:
- The images you convey
- The messages you deliver on your website, proposals and campaigns
- The way your employees interact with customers
- A customer’s opinion of you versus your competition
Branding is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. It’s also important in B2B because it helps you stand out from your competition. It brings your competitive position and value proposition to life; it positions you as a certain “something” in the mind of your prospects and customers. Your brand consistently and repeatedly tells your prospects and customers why they should buy from you.
Develop your brand around emotional benefits
Emotional and psychodynamic factors are long known to drive brand selection and loyalty. Even in today’s price-sensitive economy, the imagery attached to brands goes far beyond product attributes, functional benefits and price.
All products and brands develop personas in consumers’ minds. All project varying user images, which differ by audience. Members of one audience may buy a product because it makes them feel affluent. Members of another, which values thrift, buy a brand because it makes them feel like smart shoppers.
More generally, consumers buy products with imagery that is either consistent with their positive view of themselves (“I’m sophisticated and therefore buy this type of wine to complete my image”) or which conveys a plausible aspirational model – something they would like to be and believe they could conceivably achieve (“I can be a real ladies’ man if I drive a sports car.”)
In fact, we have discovered that the essential component of Brand Character goes far beyond advertising slogans and packaging. The most powerful influencing factor in purchasing habits is the subtle, often-overlooked product/consumer relationship. A vital brand has a “relationship” with loyal users not unlike a healthy relationship between two people.
People maintain ongoing affiliations as long as each person in a relationship feels as though the other contributes positively to his/her sense of self. Relationships fall apart when perceived negatives begin to outweigh the rewards of the association. For example, being coupled with a successful friend casts a positive halo onto someone who values success.
If you want to build a strong Brand Equity relationship, (indeed — to develop a truly effective advertising platform of any kind) you must first understand the core values of your target market. In marketing, we often talk about the assessment of these core values as “laddering up to emotional end benefits.” These are the unspoken consumer values that are the glue to brand loyalty because they validate the user’s self perceptions.
- List the features and benefits of your product / service. A feature is an attribute – a color, a configuration; a benefit is what that feature does for the customer.
- Determine which benefits are most important to each of your customer segments.
- Identify which benefits are emotional – the most powerful brand strategies tap into emotions, even among business buyers.
- Look at the emotional benefits and boil them down to one thing that your customers should think of when they think of you. That’s what your brand should represent.
- Think of your brand as a person with a distinct personality. Describe him or her, then convey these traits in everything you do and create.
- Write positioning statements and a story about your brand; use them throughout your company materials.
- Choose colors, fonts and other visual elements that match your personality.
- Determine how your employees will interact with prospects and customers to convey the personality and make sure your brand “lives” within your company.
Best Ways To Improve Your Brand
1. Stand for something
What is your organization all about? Are you simply selling a product, or do you stand for something consumers can relate to? Consumers like to know that your company has a passion, and is not just trying to make a quick buck off them.
2. Take pride in your colors
Choose your company colors carefully and wear them with pride. Analyze the competition and establish a color that represents your brand exclusively. Choose wisely because any changes could confuse or put off clients. Great examples of color branding include: UPS (brown), Facebook (blue), Starbucks (green).
3. Continuity is a big deal
Establishing and maintaining continuity is key to preserving the perception of consumers. It starts when you open your doors for business, and won’t stop until you close them. Whether it’s customer support, email marketing, advertisements, or your company webpage, consumers expect you to deliver an experience that’s consistent across the board.
4. Position your brand as a category leader
Identify what differentiates your company from the competition and develop a strategy that positions your brand as a leader in your category. A catchy slogan isn’t going to be enough. Take the time to nurture an emotional attachment between your brand and your customers and you will surely see an increase in returning clients.
5. Brand logo reflects your values
Unfortunately, many firms and ad agencies believe branding starts here – this is a mistake. Your logo should be one of the last decisions that you make when it comes to your brand image. It’s much easier to choose a logo design that properly represents your image once you’ve decided on a clear, concise, and long-term vision for your brand. Your logo should reflect the values that your company represents and it should also help differentiate you.
6. Social Media
Social proof is a weapon of influence by which we replicate what we see others do. We tend to make assumptions in our head when we’re unable to determine the appropriate action to take.So we turn to surrounding authorities that we assume possess more knowledge about the situation than us. Spreading awareness of brand on social media can create wonders for brand development.
Here are 7 keys to create your social media strategy:
1. Define your outcome
This is perhaps the most important aspect of your social media strategy.
What are you trying to achieve?
What is your ideal outcome? Sales?
Lead generation? Promotions? Branding? Buzz?
Corporate brands generally use social media as part of their larger strategic initiatives for reputation management, product launches, and customer engagement tools.
Those methods apply to personal branding as well because social media is a cost-effective marketing and PR vehicle in comparison to the traditional media marketing.
2. Focus on your audience’s needs
If you want to sell a product such as a book across social media, you must focus on your audience’s pain point, solve their problems, and add value to them little by little.
Provide free advice that’s of high value, NOT something anyone can just copy and paste from a source like a blog.
For example, instead of relaying mainstream news, focus on syndicating news gear towards a specific niche area so you become the go-to source for it.
Better yet, compile the content and provide your own insight so you act as a filter for your audience.
3. Implement measurable ROI
This is actually difficult to do because social media is still a relatively new medium and remains largely unproven.
The best solution is to gauge the time spent versus the result you are able to measure such as inbound traffic, clickthroughs, impressions, comments, fans, followers, subscribers, and ask how prospects find you.
Track your data and chart them over time to find relevant cause and effects.
You may be surprise to find what people are saying about your brand or how effective your marketing triggers are after reviewing your statistics.
4. Actively participate in discussion groups
If you have something valuable to offer, people should know.
Join discussions and participate in forums will bring you opportunities to brand yourself and create awareness in the form of constructive promotion.
Further more by providing your audience with insights, educational content, or value support systems will help you gain social proof.
Knowledge transfer in social media is very powerful especially given as freebies. As a result it creates reciprocation from the recipient who will want to return the favor in the form of purchasing your product or endorsing your brand.
5. Get in front of the right people
High profile people are great leverage to give you that boost of traffic especially key opinion leaders in your niche area.
Get in touch with them and do something for them first.
Contribute to their cause and the reciprocation factor will work on them as well. Instead of asking for endorsements, participate in their discussion groups, leave comments on their blog, send them useful information, and interact with their channel are all ways to gain visibility.
Build the right relationship will also drive The Long-Tail affect in which your brand impression will be distributed amongst high profile people’s fans in significant numbers.
6. Blend online and offline social networking
This is one of the overlooked areas for social networking.
Offline networking can add more fuel to the fire especially when people aren’t able to hide behind their user name, emails or avatars.
There is nothing quite like a face-to-face conversation to get a nice dialogue started.
Not only can you hear the voice of the other person but the body language, eye contact, and physical interaction in the same space makes you more “real” and believable.
Although it can be time consuming, offline networking is more powerful than 140 words in a tweet or a two liner comment in Facebook.
It also encourages word-of-mouth marketing which is by far the most effective marketing tool today.
I highly recommend you to attend conferences, go to tradeshows, take a training course, or get with other social networkers locally. Start a MeetUp group or a monthly seminar.
7. Nurture relationships, build momentum
When implanting social media strategies, you may wan to run tests to get feedback from your network.
You should stay true to yourself but also know what worked and what doesn’t.
Ideally you want to keep doing what works and find new ways to strengthen your relationship with your audience.
Start your own discussion group, do an online survey, create joint ventures, exchange opportunities, and continue to provide free information are all ways to foster your social media relationships.
Nothing will happen when nothing is provided and you must be patient before you get results.
Whether you’re already on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or is blogging on a regular basis, my best advice is to just let go and keep on giving!
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