You may have recently reached the conclusion that your brand is not what you want it to be. On the other side, you may be a start-up who is only just beginning to think about what you want your brand to be. In both cases, what is required is an effective brand strategy, or in the case of the first example, a new brand strategy.
But what is a brand exactly, and why is it even important. Surely if you have a good product, and sell it at a competitive price, then that is all that is required, right? Wrong. Because a brand is more than just a name and a logo. It’s more than a product and a prize. Your brand is what people say when they talk about you. It is the perception that people hold of your company (rightly or wrongly – this is all about what people think they know, not what they really know), and it is also the voice that you use to promote yourself.
Unsurprisingly, in the age we live in, the concept of brand, or at least how people relate to brands, is evolving. Social media, and social awareness and responsibility is taking care of that. What is certain is that a brand strategy of ten years ago certainly wouldn’t wash now.
For example, of those that say they have a brand relationship (an affinity with a particular brand), 64% of people said that it was because they had shared values with that brand. Only 13% said they had a relationship because they frequently used that brand. So here’s a revelation: just because something buys your product or uses your service, it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with your brand.
In conclusion, you need to establish your brand, but to do that, you first need to establish a brand strategy. Here’s how you can do just that:
What do you want your brand to be known for? Is it something purely functional, or is it something more than that? Ikea is a good example. In its branding strategy, the company proposes to change the way people live, not just sell them so nice looking furniture. So what is your purpose? Do you even have one? This is perhaps the first thing to think about.
Who do you want to relate to?
In the business, this is called knowing your audience. But do you? I mean, you might have a good idea, but do you really know what makes your audience tick? Do you understand how your audience communicates, and what it seeks in terms of products and services? Do you know what a brand relationship means for your audience? All of these are critical questions that you need to answer in some way shape of form. There may be no single concrete answer to every single question, but adequate research in terms of engaging with your audience and finding out, and looking closely at what your competitors do will point you very much in the right direction.
Establish a voice
A brand voice is pretty much as it sounds: it’s the way you talk to your audience. That means that you have to make a decision about the way you are going to interact in terms of the images you use, the language that you use, the opinions and ideas you wish to express, and the values you wish to promote. For example, you cannot really promote family values if you are selling two-seater sports cars, because how do you marry those two conflicting concepts?
Once you have established your purpose, who your audience is (and what makes them tick) and what your brand’s voice will be, then you need to seek consistency in the way you engage with your audience. Nothing screams of a failed branding messages than mixed messages sent out across multiple mediums. Why are you posting what you are posting? What is your latest advertisement really trying to say, and how does it fit in with your brand voice?
Emotional, or not emotional?
Some brands hang everything out on emotion because they know that’s what most people respond to. However, what’s your product, and what kind of emotions does it inspire? Do you even know the answers to these questions. Building an emotional brand and brand strategy is definitely a winning approach if you pitch it right, and if you are offering the right product or service, but it is also a risk. Get it wrong, and it can deal a major blow to your relationship with your users.
Taking a more distant, functional approach can work too in some cases, but it’s very difficult to create any kind of attachment with your audience if you take emotion out of it. The effect is that you just seem cold.
Empower your employees
What is a better manifestation of your brand than your workforce? Your people are your brand in most cases, so empower your staff to get involved and to reinforce everything that you want you brand to be. This works from a customer service perspective, and from a marketing perspective if you use your employees to market your brand.
Above all else, it comes down to loyalty. How can you inspire loyalty in your customer base? Apart from continuing to provide a killer product, offer rewards, engage with your users on social media, listen to their feedback, and even include them in your future marketing and branding approaches. Because if your staff are your brand, then your audience and users are too.
Professional proofreader and writer Beatrix Potter is a major contributor to Cheap Assignment and Academized service. When she isn’t editing and proofing all company literature, Bea also enjoys blogging on these topics at Boomessays Review.