Branding used to be perceived simply as a name, slogan or logo distinguishing a business from its competitors. However, branding today involves significantly more complex elements regarding aspects of a customer’s experience and inevitably the impression they get from a business as a whole. This can be down to tone of voice, values you portray, personality and how you present yourself to customers. A brand is what makes your business unique and how you connect with customers on a more emotional level. We describe it as:
‘A brand is every touch point in the consumer experience’
Building a successful brand takes time and research, importantly understanding the needs and wants of your customers in order to tailor your brand to meet these. In doing so, your brand will have the ability of creating trust between the business and its customers, as they start perceiving the business as consistent and professional. You want your customers to choose you as a solution, not just once but always, so give them a reason to keep coming back. Maintaining consistency throughout your brand is imperative in gaining recognition and trust of your customers. They will have certainty about exactly what it is they are going to get. Whilst not gourmet, when entering a franchise of one of the world’s biggest brands, McDonalds, anywhere in the country you know what you will get both in terms of the food, the layout and facilities. The brand is so strong and consistency amongst their franchises is crucial to their ongoing success. Consistency from your brand is essential for generating referrals as customers will frequently rave about the brands they like and trust.
What do we think your customers associate with your company?
Predominantly it is likely to be the product or service that you offer, secondly you may want them to associate quality, price, customer service, innovation, passion or another USP (unique selling proposition) with your business. Most importantly, you want your company to reflect the values you are representing to customers and therefore how customers are likely to perceive you. This means that your business as a brand and a company is what each of your customers say it is. We can help determine and mould their thinking but ultimately it is their decision.
For example, what are the first thoughts that enter your head when you think about Coca-Cola? You are probably imagining a refreshing, cold fizzy drink. But, if you think further about Coca-Cola and what the company is about, you might start imagining the famous Christmas adverts, or the logo on the bright red Coca-Cola cans. Even now, many companies are selling the idea of an experience rather than the actual product. For instance, Coca-Cola promotes their slogan ‘refreshing the world, one story at a time’, really signifying what you get out of Coca-Cola rather than simply the features of the drink. Customers want to know how they will feel after they receive your product or service, how will it benefit them? It’s no good regurgitating what the product or service is, without emphasising what and the experience customers can gain from working with your business.
This really shows the strength and power of a brand and how it leaves an impression in our minds. You want your company to be associated in your customer’s minds beyond the product that you offer and with your company’s USP. Now while Coca-Cola spends billions of pounds annually on marketing, how can your business start to achieve similar results? It really is down to your team of employees and the actions and decisions they take each and every day to ensure they are implementing the brand into all that they do. Not only this, your employees will have something to believe in and truly grasp the purpose of the business through the brand.
Employees represent your brand
Employees are a huge element of your company’s brand. Within an office via the language, response rate and tone used in email or telephone communications, is absolutely a representation of your company’s culture and brand. If driving a branded vehicle the actions on the road are a direct reflection on the company brand. Whilst it is obvious to avoid road rage exchanges at all costs or breaking the law by using a mobile phone, just general manners such as letting people cross the road, out of junctions, etc, reflect on your company’s brand. If wearing branded clothing, again the brand is being represented, even if shopping on the way home!
Social media can be a huge headache for many companies. Employees personal viewpoints can quickly become reflected and associated with a company and brand. With so many platforms and the balance of personal and business this can be a difficult issue. LinkedIn as a professional social media platform is usually far easier to encourage employees to meet your brand requirements. We have created a very useful, downloadable free 9 steps to LinkedIn success guide aimed at employees and employers to create brand consistency amongst this platform.
Lead from the front
Having a clearly defined corporate identity is crucial for all businesses. Brand guidelines should always include logo usage but should also extend to areas such as telephone manner and email tone, all in all the ‘customer’s experience’ through every touchpoint. To grow your company’s brand, a culture should be upheld by all employees, providing your customers with a consistent journey and representation. We believe and have seen on many occasions how the culture and brand of a company comes from the top down. The actions of the business founder, directors and managers, is crucial and reflects heavily on their team. Their attitude, emotions and culture becomes absorbed by those around them, so we would stress the importance of reflecting on this within. Coupled with regular training, good recruitment decisions and ongoing motivation your brand will be best represented by your team.
These are some of our thoughts on company brands, the importance of which we feel extremely passionate about. We hope you found them useful, for any help or advice on branding please feel free to call Fruitful Marketing on 01256 806333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.