There's a difference between a "business" and a "brand". These terms aren't interchangeable. If you've been in business for a while, or even if you recently opened up shop, that doesn't automatically mean that you've established your brand.
Memorable branding is the most effective marketing tool in the world. Why? Because a brand can't be memorable unless it's talked about. As the founder, CEO, and president of the multinational technology company Amazon, Jeff Bezos, once said, your "brand" is what consumers say about your business when you aren't in the room.
"Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room."
--Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon
In other words, effective branding won't be the result of you forcefully telling consumers what they ought to think of your business. It isn't even defined by your genuine attempts to introduce consumers to your best-selling products and services, or by talking-up the high-quality features of what you're selling.
Most businesses and company owners have not properly managed their brands mainly because they do not understand the core definition of what a "brand" is. But if we respect the term "brand" as though it can be equated to a business's reputation, then we will begin to see how valuable your brand is to your business.
"Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career."
--Ryan Freitas, Co-Founder of AboutMe
How can you build a memorable brand for your business that directly impacts revenue and delivers the highest ROI possible? In this article, we'll take a look at the foundational steps you can take today that will cause consumers to associate a high-quality brand reputation with your business.
RECOGNITION, REPUTATION, & RESPECT
You want your business to be recognized within your industry. Whether you're operating a B2B company or a B2C one, you want to be known in the existing consumer pool and you want to be recognized for the right reasons.
Instead of focusing on trying to convince consumers to think of your business in a certain way, place the emphasis of your efforts onto solidifying your company's core identity. Why are we challenging you to shift your focus away from "convincing mode" and onto "communicating your core identity"? Because at the end of the day, you'll never be able to tell people what they should think of you. You can only show them who you are and stay true to yourself, and the result will be that they form their own opinion about you.
When customers form positive opinions about your business--and by extension share with other consumers their experience of doing business with you--then they are the ones building your reputation within the existing consumer pool of your given industry. The more positive the reputation you develop, the more respect customers will have for your business.
Ask yourself, what do you want your business to be known for and how will your target audience recognize your brand within a flooded market?
"To me, business isn't about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials."
--Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group
The top 3 ways to build recognition for your business' brand involve:
- • Uniquely crafting your brand's IDENTITY
- • Identifying your IDEAL CUSTOMER
- • Using strong visuals, a consistent voice, and an unforgettable LOGO
You know why you're in business. Of course, you do. But would a first-time customer be able to articulate in a single sentence what your company is all about? Probably not. If a person's identity includes what they stand for, how they look, and what they do; then a company's identity isn't much different. The infamous athletic store, Nike, is recognized by its signature "swoosh" logo and its memorable slogan "Just Do It". Without these two identifiers, you wouldn't recognize a pair of Nike sneakers if they fell into your lap! Most importantly, the "Just Do It" attitude is embraced by Nike's customers. If you're wearing a pair of Nike sneakers, you are 100% ready to "Just Do It", right? So, who is Nike's ideal customer? Anyone who has the gumption to rise to the challenge, no matter what the challenge is.
Ask yourself, what is your business' purpose? If your response is "to make money", you're actually wrong. Making money can be accomplished a billion different ways, but you have decided to accomplish it only one way--by opening your particular company within one specific industry. Why that company? Why that industry? Nike isn't selling sneakers and their purpose isn't to turn a profit by cornering the athletic footwear market, though doing so has been an undeniable byproduct of their success. Nike's business purpose is to motivate everyone to rise to their own personal, athletic greatness, no matter what their fitness level or sport of choice.
Once you are able to articulate your business' purpose, crafting your brand's identity will flow from there, because your purpose will define your brand. Your target audience will be on "Team (Insert Your Business Purpose Here)". And all you need to do next is tie it all together with strong, consistent visuals, starting with a memorable logo. Remember, your logo plus your purpose-infused slogan equals consumers recognizing your brand easily.
"It's not about how to get started; it's about how to get noticed."
--Steve Case, CEO of America Online
The top 3 ways to build your brand's reputation include:
- • Sharing your business' STORY
- • Establishing why your brand's products and services will IMPROVE consumers' lives and lifestyles
- • Interacting with customers on SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
You might not have realized it before now, but there's a story behind why and how your business got started. This is your business' story, which can be an integral aspect of your brand. Without this story, you won't be able to build the right kind of reputation for your business. Jill Smokler, the founder of ScaryMommy.com, originally started her blog so that she would have a place to rant and rave--and also calmly discuss--parenting and motherhood issues that she was personally facing. There is an ironclad truth to the age-old axiom that states "what is deeply personal is highly universal", and by embracing and presenting her personal story on her blog, Jill Smokler was able to launch ScaryMommy.com into the branding stratosphere. Ask yourself, if someone pulled back the curtains of your business and could witness the history of how you got started, what would they see?
Once you have condensed the trials, tribulations, and miracles of why and how you started your business into a bite-sized, digestible "story", you want to invite consumers to be a part of that story. Let's look at the commendable eyeglasses company, Fetch.com. Though they sell both prescription and non-prescription frames and glasses, 100% of their proceeds goes to support animal rescue and specifically rehoming abused dogs. A consumer might not even own a dog or have the means to rescue one from their local animal shelter, but Fetch.com invites them to support animal rescue by buying a product they would need to buy anyway, and therefore that consumer gets to be a part of the Fetch story. How cool is that?
If you're clear on your brand's story and ideal customer, and you've also developed a recognizable logo, slogan, and voice, then you're ready to bring it all together by interacting with customers, consumers, and followers on your social media platforms. A great starting place in terms of content is to post about your brand's story and invite people to be a part of that story. Remember, your goal here is to build your business' reputation, not brainwash people into thinking what you want them to think about your company. Consumers are smart and generating viral interest in your business will be the result of how much customers appreciate your story and the lifestyle your brand provides them.
"Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that."
--Anthony Volodkin, Founder of Hype Machine
The top 3 ways to build respect among consumers and within your industry are:
- • Implementing STRATEGIC MARKETING
- • Promoting your BUSINESS' BRAND
- • Turning loyal customers into ADVOCATES for your brand
Don't let the phrase "strategic marketing" intimidate you. Think of this first step towards building respect for your brand as simply "building out your brand". This means taking additional, thoughtful measures to expose consumers to your business' brand. You've got your logo, slogan, and color scheme all solidified, which means your brand is recognizable. Make sure your online and in-person presence perfectly matches. Do you need to redesign your website? Do it. Whether you need to design your website from scratch because the ink just dried on the LLC paperwork, or you've been in business for 20 years but only now did you get clear on your brand, if you need to make your website, social media profiles, in-store digital signage, and online and physical presence all match your new brand, then take the time to do it right. For example, since you've already established your brand's "voice"--thanks to this article!--you need to use that "voice" consistently on your website's written content and in your social media captions.
Congratulations, you've built out your brand, i.e. the entirety of your online and IRL presence uniformly shows your branded, recognizable materials! It's time to start promoting! Addressing the literally-countless ways you can promote your brand would take hours--and many, many blog articles--so we aren't going to tackle that here. Instead, we highly recommend that you subscribe to our FasTrax 360 blog and be the first to know when new marketing articles are posted. Individual marketing campaigns vary widely from business to business and depending on the industry. For example, marketing your brand as B2B in the medical device industry will involve very different efforts than marketing your brand as B2C in the food & beverage industry. Regardless of how and where you run your promotional campaigns, however, it's critical that you present and maintain brand consistency across all channels at all times.
Finally--and this is the truly exciting part of building your brand--as you promote your brand, watch for growing enthusiasm within your customer-base, because now is the opportune moment to turn loyal customers into brand advocates. Remember at the beginning of this article when we said--or rather, when Jeff Bezos said--that your reputation is what other people say about you when you leave the room? Your brand advocates are going to be those people, i.e. the people who talk about your brand when you aren't around… and they're going to have great things to say!
How can you cultivate advocates of your brand? Encourage customer reviews, run promotions that reward referrals, create a customer loyalty program that rewards high-spenders, and reach out to social media influencers who would be most likely to love your products and services. Giving away a freebie or two to an influencer with over 300k followers could turn into the best effortless marketing you've ever known!
Additional ways to build industry-wide respect that consumers will recognize is by writing books, broadcasting podcasts, and publishing video content. You don't have to be an expert in your field to become a trusted voice within your industry. By "giving" in this manner, i.e. providing free and thought-provoking information, you can enhance the quality and specific reputation of your brand. But be sure to tailor the content you give out so that your audience appreciates the advice, tips, and tools you're offering. The best brands in the business are known not for what their customers have done for them, but for what they can do for their customers.
As you build your brand, your company will become memorable in the minds of consumers. Strong, solid, and relatable branding can directly translate into increased revenue, because when customers trust you more and more, they will keep coming back for more! In other words, they will patronize your business based on the fact that they trust your reputation.
If you would like in-depth, personalized branding advice that will support the growth of your business, the marketing strategists at FTx 360 are ready and eager to speak with you.