Do you have a favourite lunch spot? Maybe a cafe that once made a great impression on you? If so, that’s the power of branding at work.
Your brand image is often the difference between having a lifelong relationship with loyal customers and never being discovered at all.
But, building an amazing brand doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to figure out how to reach your audience in the most effective way possible. By following these simple (but often ignored) steps, you’ll develop a better understanding of what your customers want and how to exceed their expectations.
1Focus on storytelling, not product features
Without a good brand story, your product holds no inherent or emotional value for your customers. As author and story coach Lisa Cron tells us, humans are hardwired to respond to stories. When a brand makes a deep impression on us, it impacts our buying behaviour.
A 2013 Psychology Today piece showed that, when evaluating multiple brands, “Consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts).”
It’s about building a human connection with your customer, not touting the bells and whistles of your product.
Keep in mind that a good story needs to be backed up by an excellent product. Even the most talented creatives can’t change the perception of a poor product.
2Don’t try to be something you’re not
In order to last the test of time, your brand message needs to be true to who you are as a company. Don’t get hung up on what’s cool or trending now. Instead, focus on how you solve a real and enduring problem for your customer.
Some of the most ‘uncool’ products have the strongest brands.
Think about online accounting software Freshbooks, major appliance company General Electric or toilet paper company Charmin – they know their customers and how to sell to them. Focus on what you do best and offer an authentic experience for your customer.
3Give value to get brand love
Your content should focus on building relationships and helping your customers make informed and well-thought-out decisions. That way, when they choose your product or service, it’s because you’re actually the best fit, which will lead to stronger, longer lasting relationships.
Not every piece of content you create should be about your product or lead to a direct sale. You need to understand your customer journey and where content fits in (that’s why you should have a documented strategy). With a strategy, you can develop a consistent brand experience across all of your channels, which is absolutely essential for long-term growth.
If you can nail down a content marketing strategy for your business, then you’ve discovered a cost-effective way to increase awareness about, and engagement with, your brand.
Related: 5 Senses Of Brand Management
4Be customer-centric on social
Focus on networks that are relevant to your target audience and start getting social. No matter how big or small your company is, around 67 percent of consumers in the U.S. expect to contact your brand on social. Good customer service on social is directly linked to business growth.
A report by Aberdeen Group finds that businesses with social customer service experience around 7.5 percent year-over-year growth (compared to 2.9 percent without social customer service), so don’t underestimate its value.
Brands like Zappos have built their entire brand image and reputation around amazing customer service. They understand that having a loyal customer is 10 times more valuable than the customer’s first purchase.
5Make connections offline
With so many branding opportunity opportunities online, it’s easy to forget about the importance of combining online and offline experiences. Going to conferences, meeting local people in your industry and public speaking are excellent ways to fast-track your brand’s visibility.
These in-person events will help build your authority as a thought leader and get you facetime with key influencers in your industry. It really does pay to get outside. As CEO and professional speaker Jess Ekstrom points out, 90 percent of her leads come from connections made at conferences.
If you’re not sure where to start, think local. Host a small luncheon, run a seminar, or try career mentoring in your community. If you’re looking for conferences or events to attend in your industry, check out Meetup, AllConferences.com and Lanyrd. These are useful general directories that can get you on the right path.
Good brands understand what their customers want and find creative ways to deliver a memorable experience. If you aren’t doing that, then you won’t stand out against other brands that are constantly competing for your customers’ attention.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Brush Up On Your Personal Branding To Cement Your Success As An Entrepreneur
Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge.
When you run your own business, you are the brand champion and the brand ambassador – in fact, you are the brand. That is why in all the turmoil of start-up or getting a new product launched, you need to spare a moment to step back.
Think about how you are presenting to the world the brand that is so precious to you and that means so much for your future. Your clients certainly want to know and even see evidence that you are deeply committed to your brand. But there is a fine line between living the brand and letting the brand take you over and cloud your better judgement.
This is where personal branding becomes as important as your innovative product solutions or your customer service excellence. Edgy entrepreneur is one thing – but clients might shy away if they think that you have stepped over the edge and are more involved in process than delivery.
Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge:
- Time management: Despite traffic problems or transport schedules, getting this right is vital. If you do not make it on time to an initial meeting with a client, this will raise alarm bells. The client’s immediate thought is, “Can I trust this person’s word about delivering on time?” Time is money and not being on time could ultimately cost you money.
- Look the part: If you look tired, dishevelled or have poor hygiene, instead of giving you a high five for pulling an all-nighter trying to troubleshoot a new product, clients might simply think that you do not fit with their corporate culture. Ask yourself if you even fit with your own corporate culture? Is this the way you want to present your brand and your business to the world?
- Clear the decks: You might just get away with your office or workshop looking like a tip where only you know where to find something. But do not let that attitude spill over into the world outside.
That apparently friendly and innocent courtesy of being escorted to your car by your host when you leave the meeting could cover them checking you out. Many business people judge potential service providers or partners by their car – not the brand but what it looks like.
Is it covered in dust and badly in need of a wash? Is it full of the rubbish of several lunches on the road and a muddle of paperwork? It is likely that they will deduce that this is how you run your business and how you would run your business relationship with them. In other words, the state of your car might get you the thumbs up or put an end to what had been a promising negotiation.
You can be how you like, do what you want when you are off duty. But when you are on your own business’s time, you are your own brand and you need to live up to it if you want to make your mark.
5 Things You Can Do To ‘Humanise’ Your Brand
Face it: Consumers don’t automatically trust your brand or anyone else’s. Whaddaya gonna do?
Let’s face it, consumers don’t trust brands. Most people view companies like faceless enemies; they’re just out to make money; they’re just telling us what we want to hear. So, if your company wants to win over more customers, you’ve got to get them to trust you.
In fact, according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand. That will inspire more trust from consumers and boost your conversions.
To form meaningful relationships with your audience, check out these five ways to humanise your brand.
Show off your funny bone
One easy way is to show off your funny bone. According to researchers from the Turku PET Centre, Oxford and Aalto universities, social laughter leads to an endorphin release in the brain and may promote the establishment of social bonds. So, if laughter can make us feel good and encourage connections between people, you should consider using it to get the same results for your business.
Not a comedian yourself? Don’t worry; you can share popular and funny content that already exists. It’s what Netflix does when the media giant shares funny images from its shows.
Showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.
Put your team members in the spotlight
Letting consumers see the people behind the business is a powerful way to humanise your brand. If consumers are looking at just your logo all the time, they might not see your brand as human. So, put your team members in the spotlight.
Shoot some quality photos of your staff members and display them on your website and your social media platforms. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer; iPhones today can take some pretty stunning shots. You might even share your employee of the month and include a story about what makes that staffer so great. Seeing the amazing people “behind the curtain” will help consumers put a face to the brand name.
Share user-generated content
Sharing user-generated content works to humanise your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.
Instead of being asked to blindly trust a company’s claims, consumers will see real-life people falling in love with your products, which will promote trust in your brand. Example? Airbnb does user-generated content well by sharing with its followers the amazing experiences its customers are having around the world.
If you don’t have any user-generated content, ask your customers for it. Do this in an email marketing campaign; add it to your branded packages for shipping; or create a post on social media encouraging users to take a photo of/with your product and share it in combination with a unique, branded hashtag.
Tell authentic stories
Don’t spend all your time online just talking about how great your company is; humanise your brand by telling authentic stories. Sharing real stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned will help customers better relate and sympathise with you. According to Psychological Science, research suggests that shared pain may have positive social consequences; shared pain acts as a “social glue” to promote solidarity and togetherness between groups.
So, tell your target audience members stories that they can relate to, instead of simply presenting your brand as perfect. You could even share stories of your customers who previously struggled but then achieved success with help from your company/product. This will not only humanise your brand, but boost sales too.
Show appreciation for your customers
Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanise your brand. So, show appreciation for your best customers by sending them company swag or offering special discounts with a personalised message.
Buffer thanked one of its stand-out customers with not only company swag, but a personalised gift. I’m sure that those customers then became lifelong fans.
Not every company can afford to send out swag to all of their best customers, but sending a gift to just a few of your rockstar fans can go a long way. For a less costly strategy, show appreciation to new customers by simply sending a welcome/thank you email. Not only will such appreciation for your customers humanise your brand, it’ll turn those customers into brand ambassadors.
Over to you
Be prepared for your business to have a lot more die-hard customers. With these tips for humanising your brand, consumers will be able to connect with your business, relate to you on a deeper level and want to have a relationship with your company for the long term.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How A Strong Brand Protects Your Business
Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA.
It is all too easy for small businesses to become victims of intellectual property theft and seeing their products and services copied by unscrupulous competitors. A clear case in point is that of Woolworths, which was recently accused of copying a baby carrier made by Ubuntu Baba, having a cheaper version made in China and selling it as its own in-house product.
Woolworths eventually apologised and withdrew its product, after Cape Town entrepreneur Shannon McLaughlin exposed similarities between the retailer’s baby carrier and that made by her company, Ubuntu Baba.
Small business owners can protect themselves from having their products or services copied by developing a strong and unique brand.
Brand uniqueness and an authentically developed product will give you a level of protection in the market, as it will be more difficult for a competitor to copy your offering.
What small business owners should avoid is the “white label solution”. This is taking any product, even one manufactured overseas, and putting your own branding and packaging on it and reselling it as your own.
There is nothing stopping your competitor from sourcing that same product and putting their branding on it and selling it as their own. In this case, as a small business owner, you would have no recourse.
Ubuntu Baba’s unique brand and authentically developed product, designed and manufactured locally, is what helped the small business successfully take on a giant retailer like Woolworths. They didn’t simply take someone else’s product and rebrand it as their own, they actually designed and built their own product.
A unique brand and product will position you as more than just a reseller and will give you a certain level of strength and protection in the market. It allows clients to differentiate you from your competitors and can also positively affect their purchasing decisions, directly impacting your profitability.
Effective branding, that is well defined and distinct, will not only help build your reputation, but it will also make you stand out from the competition.
Ultimately, your brand is your business identity. It is the image that you show to your client, making it one of your company’s most valuable assets. Effective branding portrays a company’s values and attracts the right client.
A strong brand identity also has the benefit of making your company appear bigger and stronger than your competition and consumers are generally attracted to well-established companies. So, ask yourself whether your branding conveys professionalism, reliability and trust.
Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship1 day ago
Want To Get That Side Hustle You’ve Been Dreaming Of Off The Ground This Year?
Performance & Growth2 weeks ago
How Matt Brown Quadrupled His Business By Becoming A Niche Player
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
5 Businesses You Should Start in 2019
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
Entrepreneurs Organisation Crowns the Winner of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards
Start-up Advice1 week ago
How To Apply Lean Principles To Your Start-up’s Productivity And Time Management
Innovation4 days ago
The Art Of Pivoting: How To Know If The Time Is Right
Increase Profitability1 week ago
What To Look Out For When Seeking A Mentor Or Coach
Entrepreneur Today8 hours ago
Government Injection To SMEs Cautiously Welcomed