Understanding your brand
A successful brand lives in the hearts and minds of your customers. It is all of the things they think of when they imagine you, your company or your services.
Are you clear in your mind what branding is and what makes a brand successful? Here Zoe lifts the lid on this critical topic and provides you with a quick, easy to digest overview.
What is a brand?
Well, the first thing you need to know is that a brand is NOT just a logo! A brand is so much more than that.
A brand is all about promise. Your brand promise is that special mixture of benefits you offer that are why your customers come to your brand for a particular product or service versus your competitors.
But, as with any promise, there comes responsibility. Responsibility to deliver what you say you will in terms of benefits to your customers consistently, every time. Consumers are very discerning these days and have high expectations; so you need to deliver.
A brand also allows you to give your product or service a personality. This is vital to differentiate yourself from the competition so that there is no doubt that it is YOUR products or services that are on offer. And that can apply whether your brand is, to all intents and purposes, yourself or whether you are an enormous multinational… or anywhere in between!
And there’s nothing to stop your brand being as important to your specific target audience as any of the giant brands are to theirs. In fact, the more specific and ‘niche’ you are, the more you can gain a competitive advantage over the big guys.
Whatever happens, your brand needs to say all there is to say about you. Because, in the consumer’s mind, your brand will become a living thing, with a character and personality of its own. And consumers will want to interact with it in the same way as they would a person, engaging in a dialogue and having an emotional attachment. After all, the brands people choose say a lot about themselves too.
What makes a successful brand?
OK, you understand why you need a brand, so how do you make sure you get a good one that will work well for you?
There are five key elements to a successful brand:
- Clarity: consistently delivers a clear, unambiguous message
- Credibility: it needs to be believable & trustworthy
- Connection: makes an emotional connection with your audience
- Motivation: affirms their choice and elicits a call to action
- Loyalty: establishes, encourages and maintains a long term relationship
How do you build a successful brand?
Well the first thing you do is to look at your brand objectively, from the outside in. What your brand promises and stands for is all about how it is perceived by your audience, not what you want it to be. So put yourself in their shoes and look at things from their perspective. As we’ve already discussed, your brand is the source of a promise to your customers and demonstrates the complete philosophy of your business and what benefits you provide.
First of all, who are THEY? You need to clearly define your target audience as your brand position lives more in their hearts and minds than it does in yours. Constantly ask yourself searching questions such as:
- What do my clients want?
- What do they need?
- What do they expect?
- What special benefits can I offer?
- What experience do I want them to have?
- What is their perception of the value I give?
- What ‘added value’ can I offer?
- Who are my competitors?
- How can I do things better?
- How can I improve my customers’ experience with my brand?
Unique Customer Benefits
So, why should a client decide to come to your business and not your competitors? What can you offer your clients?
The market is not defined by what you do but what your customer wants. So, instead of thinking about USPs, look at your UCBs – Unique Customer Benefits. What will a client get from using your product(s) and/or service(s), rather than just a list of features? This will help you make an emotional connection.
The market for anything these days is crowded and therefore customers’ attention needs to be grabbed and held. One key element in making you seen, heard and believed is brand consistency. This applies to everything you do from how staff answers the telephone through to what your premises look like to all of your marketing communications materials, social media feeds and website.
That’s why it is so important to do the groundwork and get your brand proposition and target audience absolutely right so that your brand can be portrayed consistently and in the best possible light.
Your marketing communications must be a true reflection of your brand as this is how new prospects will judge your abilities to service their requirements. It is how they will be persuaded to make an enquiry and not just bypass you and move onto the next competitor. It also reaffirms to existing clients that they have made the right choice.
The quality of the marketing material is perceived by prospects and clients to match the quality of the products and/or service they will get from your business and what they are willing to pay. So, if you want to charge top-end prices, your website and marketing material need to be top-end too.
Are you ‘on brand’ in all that do?
So, do you think your business has the right brand image? Are you consistently getting the right message across to your target market? Take time out to cast a critical eye over the following:
- Your visual identity and marketing communications including website and social media
- You and your entire team – don’t underestimate the importance of good personnel. You need everyone to be informed about the proposition so that they can be a brand ambassador
- The prospect/client journey. Literally ensure that every touch point of your business is ‘on brand’. This is the brand experience.
You can get your unique brand personality across through bespoke photography and video and the use of real testimonials and real people. Make sure you’re standing out from the crowd and giving your customers something they’re proud to be associated with. By building and strengthening your brand you’re looking to achieve awareness, recognition, interaction and engagement and, ultimately, loyalty.
So the next time you purchase your favourite product or experience your chosen brand’s particular service, think to yourself, what makes them special and why have I chosen to buy from them? Can you learn anything for your own brand?