This is one of our absolute favorite topics to talk about. It is one that comes up time and again with both new and established businesses. We can’t stress enough the importance of being a brand. Sure you have a business name, a logo, a specific set of products/services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re investing in your brand.
Ownership over your brand enables growth, helps you retain customers, and can significantly decrease your overall cost of marketing.
The two most crucial elements of a brand are customer loyalty and customer trust.
Without loyal customers, your business will go through endless cycles of customer acquisition and churn. This inevitably means that your brand lives in the perpetual first stage of a relationship. Your new customers won’t necessarily know what to expect and you’ll have to try much harder to get them onboard. Trust is heavily built on loyalty, so examining this aspect of your brand is crucial. The more loyal customers you have, the more brand ambassadors you have and the more you can build your business!
We’re in a very interesting era. The internet has amassed a massive amount of information (big data), technology has become more intertwined into our daily routines than ever before (smart phones, smart homes, self-driving cars), and for every product/service there are dozens, if not hundreds, of brands for us to choose from. So where does that leave us? Often times with a mind-numbing decision for even the most minor of purchases, let alone the important ones.
To sift through masses, some customers have started paying closer attention; reading every ingredient on labels, looking for eco-friendly materials, checking where the product was made and by whom. Others simply defer to the judgement of their favorite social icon, the recommendation from their neighbor, the number of stars the brand has on Google.
So where do we start? What does it mean to be a brand?
Establishing Or Re-Invigorating Your Brand
To be clear, there are very different levels of brand ownership. You don’t have to try and tackle all of them at once and some may have much less of an impact on your business than on someone else’s. But here are 3 areas we have found to be the most important in establishing your brand.
1. Create Some Brand Guidelines
- You have a website ✔️
- You have a logo ✔️
- You have a business name ✔️
- Do you have a brand story?
- Do you have unique content?
- Are there any rules with how your logo should be displayed?
- Is there specific messaging your brand should(n’t) be using?
- Where should(n’t) your brand be listed?
Define Your Brand
One of the things that I constantly stress with my clients is that you are not trying to sell your product or service. You are trying to sell your brand. 99.9% of businesses out there have competition. It may not be the exact same product/service, but someone is still bidding on your customers in one way or another. You have to differentiate yourself somehow. Putting together your brands’ messaging and identity is important for every business regardless of their vertical.
Rules of the game:
- “Great customer service” is expected, it is not a brand differentiator
- Free Shipping while still a good way to improve your conversions, is not a brand selling point. It is becoming more and more commonplace and with the rise of Amazon, waiting too long and paying for delivery is becoming a thing of the past.
- Your logo is not your brand. I guarantee you that you know someone, or you know someone who knows someone, that has tried to start an apparel brand. Unfortunately, that industry is cutthroat and it takes more than a logo on a t-shirt to have your brand take off. You have to have something very unique about the product itself or enrapture your audience in the brand’s story.
So what’s the story of your brand?
- Is your product/service quality beyond the competition? Can you prove it? Can an unbiased third party source?
- Do you make the process easier on customers from start to finish?
- Do you contribute to charity or give back somehow?
- Does your brand genuinely care about it’s customers? Are there harmful materials in your products? Is your business contract meant to be hard to understand?
- What’s your brand’s stance on privacy?
- What value are you providing with the price you are charging that your competition is not?
- What emotion or lifestyle does your brand evoke?
After answering the questions above that are applicable to you, the next step is to think deeper about who your customer is. How do you communicate these things to them in a way they’ll be receptive to it and trust it? Are there elements of your brand story you haven’t thought about that could appeal to a new audience?
2. Own Your Brand
You’ve worked hard to create your business and now you’re working harder to define your brand. The next step is owning it. Here are some of the basics:
- Run a brand campaign for yourself on Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. This is an absolute must and here are some reasons why:
- Your branded keywords typically cost less than generic ones.
- You can take up more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) by having a paid ad, Google Maps listing (when applicable), and an organic listing.
- You get more data! This helps you optimize your brand messaging and voice.
- You prevent your competition from having a higher placed result than you for your own brand name.
- Set up the appropriate review profiles and monitor them (BBB, Google My Business, etc.). If you’re an eCommerce business, focus on getting more product reviews and seller ratings. Nothing is more important than getting feedback from customers and then responding to it appropriately.
- Get a trademark or patent. This can be on your brand name, your unique product composition, a tagline, etc. ® and ™ increase conversion rates and can prevent your competition from using your brand name/tagline/secret formula.
- Use a business email address. The days of @yahoo.com and @aol.com are over. A branded email address means your emails are less likely to go into spam folders and they also garner more trust with your customers.
- Have a templated email signature for all company employees. This helps customers know you’re all part of the same team and keeps things looking professional. It also ensures that every customer facing representative includes their pertinent contact information in their emails (name, phone, email)
- Create branded business cards
- Customize your voicemail! Default voicemail messages are jarring, make sure your customers know who they called and when you’ll get back to them. Also make sure your employees know phone etiquette when answering a call.
3. Engage With Your Customers
This may be one of the most overlooked details of brand management. This ties everything above together! Leverage your brand story, your reputation, and your audience data to keep your customers engaged. This should be done by sending emails, posting on applicable social media websites, and even including brand information in your product packaging or final invoice receipt. These three are the basics and we’ll cover each of them more in-depth in other blogs.
Last but not least, don’t forget to thank your customers! They have options, so make sure they know that you appreciate their business and would love it if they could refer a friend or leave you a review.
When you understand your own brand, have consistent messaging & voice, own your brand everywhere it exists, and utilize branding to engage and re-engage with customers, you can decrease your overall marketing cost by capitalizing on work you’ve already done. Leveraging your brand is a great opportunity for growth without adjusting any of your other marketing campaigns or strategies. Be unique and your customers will remember you.