83% of respondents in our 2021 study said that a provider having a strong brand would either definitely or probably make them more likely to continue working with that provider. 79% said it would make them more likely to recommend the service provider to someone else.
When an organization is looking for vendors, the aspects of a service provider’s brand and the impacts that result (recommendations, specialization, testimonials, thought leadership, reputation) all play a part in which vendor is chosen. When a vendor has a strong brand, the natural result will be quality recommendations, thoughtful testimonials, influential thought leadership, and more.
In this post, we’ll review the aspects of a strong brand (strategy, identity, awareness, and loyalty), discuss the impacts that result from strong branding, and explore the importance of vendors communicating their brand values for continued growth.
Four Key Aspects of a Vendor’s Strong Brand
At Hummingbird, we talk a lot about the aspects of a strong brand. Strategy, identity, awareness, and loyalty are important to vendors that want to strengthen their branding.
Strategy – Brand strategy is essential to overall business strategy, and although a lot of companies don’t make brand strategy a priority, it really should be if the goal is to build a strong brand. It should also be built from the inside out — every employee of a service provider needs to be on board with the company’s mission, vision, and core values so they communicate a consistent brand message in every interaction with customers.
Identity – Speaking of interactions with customers, brand identity is all about keeping the company’s promises. Can your customers trust that your organization will do what you say it will? When they can, you can be confident in your brand identity.
Awareness – Brand awareness is simply familiarity with your brand. Familiarity grows when you grow your audience. Are your current and potential customers truly aware of your brand? Awareness is key to a service provider’s strong brand that drives business growth.
Loyalty – Every company wants brand-loyal customers. At Hummingbird, the strategies we emphasize for building brand loyalty are finding your company’s unique value, developing its unique voice, and communicating to your customers just how much you value them. The better your company can implement these strategies and encourage loyalty, the stronger your brand will become.
Impacts of a Strong Brand on Business Growth
Building brand strength is not an exercise in futility. The impacts of a strong brand are wide and deep. Often they’re felt in the intangible aspects mentioned above – loyalty, trust, awareness. But they’re also felt in tangible ways that contribute to business growth:
- Recommendations – When you’re a service provider with a strong brand, you’re meeting customer expectations, building trust, and creating brand loyalty, making it easy for loyal customers to recommend your services to others. A recommendation from a company that already uses your services is one of the most powerful tools for helping your business grow.
- Specialization – A strong brand communicates the organization’s specialty clearly. It sounds counterintuitive that a brand should niche down to a narrow specialty, but the more your company can do that, the stronger your brand presence. Your organization becomes the voice of authority in that specialization…the go-to for your services.
- Testimonials – Like recommendations, testimonials are a powerful tool for your brand. They’re honest assessments of the experiences your clients have had while working with your company. Testimonials are powerful because they offer social proof that you deliver on your promises. The more testimonials you can provide to potential customers, the more likely they are to trust your brand based on the word of those you’ve already served.
- Thought leadership – Creating content in your company’s unique voice from your unique position in the marketplace impacts your brand significantly because it gives your organization the opportunity to transparently share your values with your audience. When you communicate your expertise, you clearly reveal what sets you apart from your competitors and build the trust needed to grow your business with brand-loyal customers.
- Reputation – Your organization’s reputation is interwoven among all of the aspects we’ve covered. Ultimately, it comes down to who you present your company to be and whether you stay true to that identity at every level of the business. Your bottom line depends on the strength of your brand’s reputation.
“Reputation is consistently ranked by corporate leaders as their most valuable asset.”Paul Blanchard in Forbes
The Role of Values in a Vendor’s Branding
Companies today are looking to align with vendors who hold the same values and align with their purpose. It’s becoming more important than ever to make sure your customers understand that you are a good cultural brand fit. And that means having a strong sense of your brand’s values and communicating them well.
- Use your website and social platforms to show what your core values are and how your team is living them. You might even take a cue from Zappos and put them on packaging and advertising. From the moment Zappos’ leadership put core values into writing, the company has shared them widely in their promotional materials.
- Explore core values as an exercise with your team, and look at the core values your customers and prospects express, and see where you can find alignment. Doing this exercise can help leadership gain clarity on what matters to your team members and your customers. When everyone is in alignment, your team is more likely to stay motivated, and your company will be in a better position to build stronger relationships with customers.
- If volunteering or giving a percentage of sales back is something you see customers doing, think about where that might make sense in your community outreach plans. Volunteering and other givebacks make a positive difference in the local community while building stronger bonds with your team members and customers.
- Explore how your customers are demonstrating team building and internal culture. Then ask yourself, “Does our team building and internal culture align?” The closer aligned your values of team and company culture are with those of your prospects and customers, the more likely they’ll become brand loyal.
- Make sure to show all of this on your social media outlets. Remember to share your values, your team building exercises, and your givebacks on social media so your customers and potential customers get a glimpse of it all and continue growing in loyalty to your brand.