Is Your Brand Fuzzy?
Powerful brands are developed through careful planning and hard work. They’re not just memorable names, but a set of promises for your customers that speak directly to the value of your products and services. Remember, a successful brand creates consumer loyalty and includes a long-term financial return.
Branding is the process of determining your competitive advantages, building a culture and business strategy around those advantages and then communicating the brand effectively and consistently to your target audience.
Sound too complicated? It doesn’t have to be. These seven tips may set you in the right direction.
- Analyze your competitors
Branding 101 is to be different from your competitors. To accomplish this, you need to study them closely. Understanding the strategies behind competing brands will provide the backdrop for you to craft a distinct brand for your business with long-term competitive advantages. Find out how consumers perceive your competition, as well as the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, you’ll be able to accomplish something different with your brand, while capitalizing on the weaknesses of your competitors and focusing on the unique strengths of your business.
- Identify your strengths
Before you can focus on the strengths of your business while building your brand, you need to know what they are. Think carefully about your business and the products and services you offer. Ask yourself, what value do you have that your competition does not? Talk with your employees and current customers to help uncover potential advantages that are not being leveraged to the full potential.
- Validate your advantages
Once you know your strengths, it’s time to think more carefully about each one. Talk to your employees and customers again, and this time, focus the conversation on why the strengths you’ve identified are advantageous to your customers/business. One way to frame this conversation is to talk with your employees about what they take the most pride in when it comes to marketing your business. What you and your employees take the most pride in is often the backbone of your branding strategy.
- Know your competitors and their value
To establish customer value, evaluate metrics such as:
- How much money is a customer currently spending on your product/service?
- How much money will the customer spend in the future?
- Is your market segment growing or declining?
- How often does the customer buy the product/service?
- Is the customer a loyal buyer or does the customer switch brands often?
- Does the customer pay full price or a promotional price?
Some effective ways to gather this information include an email survey, a focus group or one-on-one conversations with recurring customers.
- Create Brand Compatibility
Compatibility is best described as how good the match is between a brand’s unique value and the customer’s attitudes and behaviors. The mindset of your customers, their attitudes and lifestyle, paired with their environment, such as media likes or dislikes, purchase history and demographics, are needed to achieve brand compatibility. These elements suggest how to create messages that are relevant to the customer.
- Align your message, value proposition and business process
A name, logo, ad and packaging can all trigger the positive associations that position your product on a customer’s “short list.” Ultimately, it’s all about the customer’s experience. It’s this experience that validates and sustains your brand. Because of this, everyone involved in your business needs to be on the same page with your brand strategy and should always present it in a positive way. A brand message needs to be meaningful to distinguish itself from the competition and create preference based on your unique differences. Always be consistent with the use of your name, logo, email signature, and website.
- Measure the results
Branding strategies can be linked to brand attitudes, purchasing habits and brand loyalty. This feedback/modification cycle is a loop, and improvements should be made on a continual basis, depending on the changing needs, attitudes and preferences of customers. Again, surveys, focus groups and conversations with your customers are effective ways to measure the results of your branding.
Keeping brand promises is more important than just having good intentions. Your claims need to be linked back to your brand promise, and fulfilling these priorities should be a top priority for all levels in the company. Next time you are with a customer, take the time to ask them how they experience your company. You may be surprised at the answer.