strong For this first article, I would like to share with you the element that has been the most challenging since the beginning of the adventure of Vagabond & Marketers: building a strong brand image.
To introduce this topic, a quote comes to mind that perfectly illustrates this topic:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” Jeff Bezos – Amazon.
With Vagabond & Marketers, I realized that many of our customers make the mistake of ignoring the importance of their brand identity or limiting it to a simple logo or design.
Many entrepreneurs tend to be obsessed, and rightly so, by the development of their technologies, products, or services, but this is often done at the expense of other elements of the overall marketing strategy.
According to Forbes, 5 of the top 10 startup failures are marketing and we can’t ignore the benefits of building a strong brand.
I advise small businesses that we work with, to think of their brand as if it was a person. Like a person, a strong brand has its own identity, voice, personality, values, history, character, attitude, and culture.
How important is your brand to your business?
It is the whole personality of the company: its history, its origin, its co-founders, its evolution, its universe, its perception, its differences, its collaborators, its strategy, its vision, its mission … and much more.
That’s why it’s important for the company to reflect, think, and build a strong brand that represents its principles and core values. Having a clear vision will ensure its long-term success. Stating its purpose from the outset through its brand makes the strategic plans more consistent to execute.
What can branding do to motivate customers?
A customer will be much more inspired and engaged by a brand that offers relevant content with an emotional promise and an attractive personality. To get the consumer’s attention, a small organization needs to work hard and challenge itself to design an innovative and tailored marketing campaign. This is even more true if you target the millennial generation, which does not react as well to the classic more invasive advertising, but rather to more engagement advertising: tell me what is the story of this product, and I will think about buying it.
Of course, without customers, businesses cannot succeed. That’s why it’s important to have a brand that inspires loyalty and promotes engagement. A brand strategy helps build a strong identity to approach customers and differentiate themselves from competitors.
To build a strong and inimitable brand identity, here are 7 commands:
1- Your first words… you will look after
Thinking your brand strategy up front allows you to reach the right target, the one that will become your brand ambassador. It is important to look after your first outing and to appeal to your audience: their impression of your product or service will be tied to the first impression they got from you. We all heard this truth: “You will never have a second chance to make a good first impression”. This is often much more powerful than we imagine. One trick is to launch in two stages: a first phase to quickly “test” its solution and make corrections, and then do an official launch in the second phase including stakeholders, investors, media, influencers, and prospects.
Finally, think about your visual identity (there is so much to say on this so stay tuned for another blog article).
2- Your goal … you will share
The client is in constant solicitation and sometimes, to see more clearly in the multitude of advertising stimuli, he needs to sort between one brand and another, it is not only the price or the promise that enter the balance but the ability of a brand to set its goal. Your goal, your way of doing things, or your motivation to get up every morning to push the boundaries and face new challenges is what makes you stand out from your competition.
Customers respect and admire above all brands that seek something other than pecuniary goals. Take the case of SNIPS, a startup that develops a voice assistant, to sell its technology, it focuses on its mission to create a strong commitment around its concept: “develop a technology that respects the privacy of its users.” Another example is IKEA, whose goal is not only to sell furniture but also to “improve the everyday life of the many”.
3- Consistency … you will ensure
The key to being consistent is to avoid talking about things that have nothing to do with your brand or to want to do like your competitors. All your actions must be related. When you share a new photo on your Facebook page, for example, ask yourself: what does this mean for my business? Is it consistent with the message I want to convey?
In order to build a strong brand, you must always be careful about the consistency of all your messages. Consistency helps your customers and prospects to recognize your brand, both from a loyalty and identification point of view.
To achieve this and build a strong visual identity, I recommend to be consistent and be accompanied by an agency, build not only a visual identity but your brand’s own voice that will recognizable.
4- Emotion … you will create
Experts in marketing and consumer behavior share this theory: customers are not rational.
How do you explain, for example, that a person buys a Rolex luxury watch, which costs thousands of dollars more than the average price of a watch? Purchasing decisions are not only motivated by rational considerations and the objective characteristics of products. They are also determined by emotional factors. A brand can play with the palette of universal emotions (according to Darwin): joy, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise. Creating the conditions for a dialogue between a brand and its consumers can generate more emotions, such as Coca-Cola with the customization of bottles with a first name or Nike with shoes.
5- Flexibility … you will have
In such a changing world, marketers need to be flexible to stay relevant. You may be wondering, “how to be consistent while being flexible at the same time? “. It’s a good question.
Consistency is what allows you to create a standard for your brand identity. Flexibility is what allows you to make the necessary adjustments to develop the interest of your customers and build your difference from your competitors. Both approaches are complementary. For example, the brand of Old Spice body cleansers which had the image of a brand for dads completely changed in the eye of its younger customers and became one of the most popular brands, even amongst millennials. The brand was able to change its positioning to reach a wider target. Feel free to take new paths, to change the way you interact with your customers. The top of a mountain can be reached by multitudes of paths.
6- The commitment of your collaborators … you will start
Brand guidelines and best-practice communication rules can help you create a consistent experience. But it is also essential that your employees be a part of your branding because they are the ones who are connected with customers and are the first ambassadors of your brand. Imagine that you manage to generate a strong engagement on social networks thanks to a sparkling and warm communication, but that your customer service is defective, cold, and grumpy. To avoid this kind of discrepancy, you can take inspiration from the approach implemented by Zappos, which has dedicated a department to sharing best practices in terms of customer relations: Zappos Insights.
7- The heart of your customers … you will conquer
The success of a lasting identity lies in its perpetual adaptation to keep its customers’ loyalty. If you already have customers who love you and love your brand, do not rest on your laurels. Reward them for the love they give you. These customers who love you have taken the trouble to write positive messages about you on social networks or elsewhere, to recommend you, and possibly to act as ambassadors for your brand. Cultivating the loyalty of these customers will allow you to get more loyal customers – and therefore more sales. A branding strategy must integrate this aspect to be successful.
So before you sell to your customers … talk to them. And it starts with your brand identity.