7 Brand-Enhancing Tips That Will Elevate You Above the Competition
Business owners realize there is a raging battle for loyal customers; competitors lurk in the shadows around the clock to entice them to switch brands. While some may think a surging revenue stream is the ultimate goal, savvy entrepreneurs understand that they must first build a successful brand. Think of it as any sporting event. To dominate, a business must be one that is clearly distinguishable in a crowded field.
Branding is powerful tool in an entrepreneur’s war chest that they can leverage to create a memorable impression; it should reflect a multi-dimensional representation of your company – its products and how it supports causes to improve the quality of life.
While it has many layers, the following 7 tips are tried and true methods that most global companies have incorporated into building a successful brand:
1. Know your audience
Customizing a strategy is important but first, define your target audience. You already have the product or service; now determine who needs what you offer. After determining your niche audience, you can zero in on specific messaging. No business can afford to waste resources trying to reach every demographic. For example, luxury home builders will need to identify individuals above a certain income threshold.
2. Appeal to an emotion
Humans thrive on emotions. Keep this top of mind when creating your messaging. Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman says customers who are engaged and impassioned when interacting with your business are ones that will be the most loyal. If your products will satisfy a need or desire, be sure to illustrate to your customers how using them will produce pleasant emotional responses.
3. Launch a co-branding campaign
Dare to be different and try a new approach to reaching a broader segment of customers. To gain a competitive edge, many brands are finding gold by uniting forces; each brings their best to the table. Starbucks prides itself on its coffeehouse environment. And the music streaming platform, Spotify, has delivered in excess of 25 billion hours of artists’ songs to its subscribers. This mutually beneficial partnership created a bridge, allowing each to tap into the other’s audience. In this scenario, coffee patrons can access Spotify via the Starbucks Mobile App. Starbucks expanded its loyalty program – for the first time – to a third party. This music-ecosystem allows Starbucks patrons the chance to create their own playlist, and music lovers who subscribe to Spotify can earn “Stars as Currency.”
4. Be authentic in your messaging
Give customers credit for being intelligent; they can readily spot misleading branding efforts. As soon as they detect a hint of anything disingenuous, they will shift their loyalty to another brand that believe is more worthy of their trust. Refrain from making erroneous claims, as it could irreparably damage your brand. Even some huge brands have tripped the honesty wire.
Sketchers learned this the hard way. In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stepped in when the company was making scientifically unfounded claims about how its sneakers help customers lose weight, tone the body and even help fight heart disease. The price tag on that advertising fiasco: a $40 million settlement.
5. Create a social media presence
As of May 2019, the world population has exploded to 7.7 billion; 3.5 billion of them are active social media users – up 176 million from 2018. About 80% of those living in the U.S. have created at least one social media profile. With this many fish in the sea, businesses of all shapes and sizes are casting a wide net; they leverage social media to find, target and capture them. The most used platforms are global Goliaths: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. While YouTube influencers can help brands expand their reach, they must act as sentinels to protect their own brand. For example, those who have labored to build a broad base on YouTube will want content that will not alienate their own audiences.
6. Publish one blog a week
Neil Patel, an online marketer who has amassed a faithful following, emphasizes the importance of posting relevant content on blogs once a week. One way to expand your reach is to invite guest bloggers; this strategy allows you to grow your own network. Further, it’s an ideal way to create backlinks, which can boost your Google ranking. Well-written blogs that dispense valuable nuggets of information will build brand awareness and keep readers returning for more.
7. Showcase your values at every customer touchpoint
While consumers may be separated by geography, many share a passion for brands that unite them. They may never meet but they are all fierce advocates for social good. They are passionate on issues ranging from climate control to wildlife and everything in between. Belief-driven shoppers often investigate a brand to educate themselves on their values. Once they learn which causes a brand supports, they will decide if the company is a good match. Brands are discovering they can no longer sit quietly on the sidelines; they must make a stand on hot-button issues.
According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand global study, 64% of customers make their purchases based on their belief system. This is a hefty 13 point spike over the prior year. The consumer whose values align with a particular brand will be a loyal fan. On the flip side, they are prone to boycott a brand that is diametrically opposed to theirs.
Companies of today’s technological explosion have more advantages than those even two decades ago. While these advances will continue to develop, one thing will remain the same: the customer’s relationship with the brand.
Founders of two behemoth brands understood the fireworks that occur when the customer and the brand intersect perfectly; they have some wise yet simple words to share. Sam Walton the king of Walmart said, “There is only one boss. The customer.” And speaking about brand, Jeff Bezos, the one who introduced the world to Amazon, noted “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your brand, quite simply, is your reputation.