Few attributes are more essential to a company’s success than strong, positive brand recognition. How the world perceives a company’s brand can spell the difference between a strong, thriving industry leader and an also-ran.
But the old ways of branding have fallen by the wayside. At one time, companies touted themselves as better, bigger, newer. Today, your brand has to do a lot more than simply convey product superlatives. As the number of brands steadily increases, it’s not sufficient your brand is known; it must be known for qualities customers consider essential and meaningful in their lives.
One such quality is brand purpose, which mixes altruism, professionalism and marketing knowledge. Brands can no longer make promises they can’t keep; their survival depends on being authentic and transparent with customers.
Great brands are also uncomplicated. Your company’s brand must be easy for customers to understand, believe in, act upon and grow passionate about. As one brand expert says, “The currency of brands is passion.”
Closely aligned with passion is the idea of building emotional linkages. Nike and Apple aren’t the lowest-priced offerings in their categories, but they thrive because of the emotional connections they have forged with customers.
Your brand, too, should be building an emotional link with its targets. Probe the emotional triggers that are important in your category, and utilize them as a way of effectively differentiating your company from competitors.
As you hone your branding efforts, keep these best practices top of mind.
Blend value with values. Today, offering value is more important than ever. Your customers expect your product or service to be price competitive, reliable, consistent and safe. But they also favor brands that stress values: social and environmental responsibility, honesty and health consciousness.
Gauge expectations. According to Forbes, consumer expectations have grown an average of 20 percent over the last five years, while brands have kept up by only five percent. As a result, the gap between what customers want and what they get from brands has widened. Understanding what customers want but haven’t necessarily stated gives brands an edge over competitors.
Stand out visually. With the proliferation of brands and their corresponding websites and marketing material, it’s more and more critical for brands to stand out visually from the clutter. One branding expert urges redesigning your website to ensure it differentiates your brand from the rest.
Zero in Socially. Your brand personality is distinctive, as is the customer base your company targets. Why then would you give equal emphasis to all social media platforms? Your brand may be best suited to LinkedIn, Pinterest or YouTube. But trying to focus equal attentions on all of them is a mistake.
Personalize messages. American customers are coming to expect more products, services and messages tailored specifically to them. They are more likely to engage with brands that go further in speaking directly to them.