Brand identity can be fleeting in a time where everyone’s got a catchy name and a website. Creating a high impact brand and building a community around your brand can help your medium to long term success. To achieve this, however, you need to have a strategy.
A brand is intangible. It’s much more than the shades of color you use in your marketing material or the products that you are selling online. While it’s easy to get caught up in brand minutiae like whether your logo will wear a Santa Claus hat over the December period and exactly how chatty or formal you’re going to be when replying to queries on Facebook, it’s more important to take a step back and focus on the building blocks that will help you create a clear, relevant and successful big picture brand strategy.
Here are the building blocks that you need to think about to create a great brand strategy:
Know your niche
Harley Davidson didn’t create an entire army of brand advocates by becoming the go-to company for all types of motor parts and vehicle related elements. They cater to a very specific type of rider who has a very specific style. If you try to touch on a number of different disciplines that you aren’t experienced in, you will end up with a system that doesn’t work for you or your client.
Turn away from projects or products that aren’t in line with your visions, persona and goals. Every brand has a unique gift, value or promise that they put out to the world. This is your brand’s promise and it’s an essential part of its positioning in the market. It’s the essence behind why your company exists and it’s the reason that your clients’ money goes to you instead of to your competitors.
Use emotion and engagement to build a community
The strongest brands aren’t the ones who are spending the most on advertising, they’re the ones whose clients are doing the marketing for them. Consider Apple fans who tell everyone why they paid a premium price for an iPod instead of much less for an MP3 player that can do exactly the same thing.
In this case, Apple isn’t the one pushing their promise of creating simple technology that “simply works”, it’s their customers who are doing the advocating for them. Emotive language and platforms where customers can connect with each other to build a community and foster a sense of belonging can go a long way in initiating this type of brand loyalty for your brand.
Be welcoming and engaging and make sure everyone in your company knows that you want to be open and invite participation. Consider what happened when a University of Missouri communications professor was caught on tape blocking a freelance photographer attempting to shoot photos at a protest on campus. Let clients and the media be the life force behind your brand.
Get everyone in your company on board for universal consistency
The first contact point that your customers will have with your brand will be your employees. While a consistent brand image in terms of aesthetics and corporate identity are important, you want the brand experience that your employees create to be equally excellent and consistent.
If you’ve got a quirky, creative voice on Twitter, then it would make sense for your call center agents or shop front sales clerks to adopt this tone and style of talking when they speak to clients as well. Create a customer journey into your brand, who you are and why your philosophies align with theirs.
Companies are spoiled for choice when it comes to reaching their markets. Craft ideal buyer persona(s) of your perfect customers and start building your brand around their objectives, needs and pain points. This creates a contextual experience that talks value instead of pushing sales.
Treat your people like they’re your customers
The example of when Alaska Airlines managed to lose the luggage of its very own CEO is an epic argument for consistency in the customer experience. If your business builds its reputation on providing the best customer service in its vertical, then be sure that it delivers each time. Few things are more important than the customer experience, so subject yourself to it and polish up where needed. Put it through continuous stress tests and keep polishing!
The value economy is a big thing today, placing a spotlight on the customer and employee experience. Forrester Research labels ours the age of the customer, in which value is perceived as high currency in modern market spaces.
Employee sentiment is also a great mouthpiece for your brand and conveys a sense of people over profits philosophy. Forrester advises, that to flourish in today’s customer centric globe, businesses should, “Give customers a reason to do more than just consume your brand. Give them a reason to include you in their lives. Stand for their interests; stand for what they believe in; and give them a wholly different and better way to accomplish their purpose.”
Brand identity is a long game, so build a solid, yet dynamic strategy
Building a great brand identity is an ongoing effort that pays dividends if it is supported by a measured strategy. The influencing factors are many, but this creates ample opportunities for companies to seize and make their brands stand out. Remember to stay true to your values and keep your market’s unique characteristics, needs and pain points in close proximity as you craft an identity that communicates who you are.
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