In order to create a strong brand, a company must differentiate its product or service from others. This differentiation helps build a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. Customers who believe in a brand spread the word about its benefits, increasing the value of the brand as an asset. Companies that do not live up to their brand promises to customers suffer.
- Create an Experience Customers by nature are looking for an experience when they interact with your brand. All their experiences with your brand make an impression and help set an expectation of what your brand is about. An example of a brand focused on creating an experience is Disney. Whether you are at one of their amusement parks, watching a Disney movie, or visiting a Disney store, you have an expectation that your experience will be filled with wonder and the highest level of service with a smile.
- Develop Clear Messaging Going through the process of branding your business will help you develop clear messages about your company. From your mission and vision, to your core values, value proposition and competitive advantages, it’s important to have very clear messages that represent what your company stands for. This helps set customer expectations and tell a story that will resonate through all your media outlets and customer contact points.
- Increase Credibility Establishing and keeping a brand promise will help build credibility for your company with customers, prospects and vendors, as well as in your industry and community. Keep in mind that even a very creative marketing strategy will not render as high of an ROI if you are not believable. Believable companies gain trust with customers with less effort, and people prefer to do business with businesses they trust.
- Create an Emotional Tie with Your Target Market By gaining insight into what your customers want and need, you can learn how to connect with your target market on an emotional level so they feel good when they buy from you. Purchasing is an emotional experience, so make sure to tell your brand story in a unique way that resonates emotionally with customers!
- Motivate Customers to Buy More
Once customers trust your brand, it’s easier to offer new products and services. A strong brand helps foster business growth. According to a study by Gartner Group, on average 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of its existing customers. For example, Dove became a well-known soap brand, which made it easy to increase sales when the brad introduced body washes, lotions and deodorants to their existing happy customer base.
- Build Brand Loyalty
Strong brands live true to a consumer promise that supports how a person wants to feel about themselves or how they want to see themself when they use that product or service. This builds brand loyalty. The customer essentially buys into a brand because of the promise that they are a certain type of person, which promotes customer loyalty. Harley Davidson is a great example of how building loyalty through a strong consumer promise impacts the success of the brand.
- Be Memorable
A benefit of developing a strong brand story is to be top-of-mind in your brand category. Examples of brands that stay top-of-mind include Apple, Levi’s, Victoria’s Secret, Rolex, Nike, and Fedex. These brands are memorable because of a brand promise incorporated into a strong brand identity and message. Victoria’s Secret represents “powerful, sexy and glamorous women who love their bodies”, and you can trust Fedex “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- Stand Out From Competitors
In today’s economy and digital world competition is everywhere, and it’s imperative to differentiate your brand from competitors. When you embark on branding your company, one of the most important things you should determine is your unique sales proposition (USP) – this is the ultimate competitive advantage that makes you better by being different, and it’s perhaps the hardest brand message to develop, as well as the most powerful! Once you determine a true USP, you can stand out from all the similar companies out there.
- Reflect Your Company’s Sense of Pride
A significant message you develop when you brand your company is the core values it holds. Your brand should represent the values you are proud to stand for no matter what. Zappos developed a unique set of core values that are reflected in all its packaging, marketing materials and customer service activities. Zappos’ customers can relate to these core values, which influence their decision to buy from the company.
- Generate Referrals
People love to share things they like. Yes, people love to talk and share products through word of mouth, but they will also share your brand without even knowing it through wearing your product, eating your product, driving your product, etc. People love to tell others about the brands they like. People wear brands, eat brands, listen to brands, and they’re constantly telling others about the brands they love. On the flip side, you can’t tell someone about a brand you can’t remember. A strong brand is critical to generating referrals or viral traffic.
- Motivate Employees
A brand strategy can help employees better understand their responsibility in representing the company and contributing to its success. It helps them know how to act and how to meet the company’s goals. Apple’s brand strategy includes a statement that, “People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end. They want their work to add up to something. Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.” This brand statement helps the company attract people who are motivated and who will, in turn, be loyal to the company.
- Create Consistency
Brands with clear and consistent branding help customers know what to expect when they buy your product or service. This puts customers at ease. Your brand story should be consistent across all media from your corporate identity and advertising, to your presentations, packaging and phone etiquette. And, you need to be committed to consistency for a long time… for just when you are tiring of your brand story, others are just beginning to recognize and remember it!
- Be Recognized
People like to be familiar with the companies they do business with. When you branding your company, customers and prospects will begin to recognize you. Recognizing and remembering a brand is a key to marketing. Even with many dollars spent in advertising, sales conversion is not nearly as high without brand recall. A unique and creative brand story can help increase brand recognition, and therefore increase sales! Probably some of the most recognizable branding in history has been done by McDonald’s through the golden arches and Ronald McDonald, not to mention “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac.” The ad hasn’t run in years, but I still remember every word!
- Communicate What Your Company Stands For
An effective brand story goes beyond features and benefits to help communicate your company’s style and character, including values and business principles. Many companies take this a step further by committing to local charities, or even global causes. For example, TOM’s was founded with a mission to donate a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair it sells. Today, the company also restores sight to a person for every pair of glasses purchased and provides a week of clean water to a person in need for every bag of TOM’s coffee bought. The brand message is “One for One®”, and the brand attracts consumers looking to “positively impact communities in need around the world.”
- Establish a Strong Reputation
Reputation really is what branding is. Looking for the right brand message for your business? Look straight to your reputation, and build on that. Ask customers why they buy from you, why they come back, and why they chose your company over competitors. The answers to these questions can help you form your brand promise, and as you continue to live up to that promise, your brand will establish a strong reputation.
- Build Trust
People buy from companies that they know will take care of them. Creating a brand allows your business to develop a brand promise. More importantly, as the brand lives up to that promise time and again, trust is built. And, not only does trust foster loyal, repeat customers, but it also leads to referrals, positive word-of-mouth and goodwill. And, customers interact and share more with trusted brands. An SDL survey found that 79% of respondents are more likely to provide personal information to a “trusted” brand online. Therefore, brands have to earn trust to be successful in today’s digital marketing environment.
- Rise Up In Times of Trouble
Having a strong brand can help insulate you in times of crisis and economic uncertainty. By differentiating your brand, you can avoid problems when competitors experience bad times. And, the strongest brands can overcome tragedy as Johnson & Johnson did when Tylenol capsules were laced with cyanide. By showing its commitment to consumer safety as a core value, J&J was portrayed in a good light and the Tylenol brand was able to recover.
- Influence Purchasing Decisions
Without branding, consumers would just pick up the nearest product they could get their hands on. But given a competitive environment, differentiating your product through branding will help you influence customers. From expressing a style or character with which customers relate, to expressing benefits of your product or service, you can create an emotional tie that makes the purchasing decision easy for them!
- Build an Asset
When you develop an effective brand that is memorable, easily recognizable and superior to the competition, brand equity can be built. A strong brand can provide value that far exceeds a company’s physical value. For example, Heineken bought Asia Pacific Breweries for over $5 billion dollars because one of APB’s most successful brands is “Tiger”, which is a popular brand in Asia and has potential to be a popular brand throughout the world. Heineken bought the company for its brand equity, not its physical asset value.
- Stay Focused
When you embark on branding your company, the first step is establishing a mission and vision for the company. A clear branding strategy helps a company stay focused on these basic principles, guided by staying true to the brand while meeting certain business goals. With a strong brand, your organization can focus on strategy. And, a brand strategy helps to guide marketing initiatives so they align with your business goals and plans, which can save your organization time and money.
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At Hummingbird Creative Group, we build business value through better branding. Contact us to find out how we can build your business’s value:
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