How do you build a brand?
Branding is about creating a consistent message for your customer base. One that communicates the same firm philosophy and image across the board.
Image plays a key role. A good Graphic Designer or Marketer will set you up with a full brand package that presents the same logo, same colour scheme, same concept across all of your promotional materials. That however is only the aesthetic aspect of Branding, and it is not enough.
Branding is all about association – the associations that develop within the consumer. When it comes to this Brand Association, a business should be focused on two areas:
- WHO is the customer associating certain products, services and quality with? (is it your Brand?)
- WHAT products, services and quality are they associating with you? (is it good products and service or poor products and service?)
Simply put, when a customer looks to procure a specific product or service, do they naturally turn to you first? if not are you within the top three businesses they naturally turn to?
If you cannot with all certainty answer yes to either of these questions, then your brand may have some room for improvement.
Building Your Brand.
One cannot successfully build a brand over night. Brands build their reputation over time and as they do they build a faithful customer base. Their are two key way to speed up the development of your brand reputation:
1. Develop your business in key areas that matter to your consumer base. In other words, determine what matters to your customers and ensure that your business is focused on those areas first and foremost.
Example: I boycott a certain Coffee Chain here in Canada – because they consistently get my order wrong – I am talking EVERY single time. They may release a new flavor of donut every month, which is fun, but what matters most to me is that I get what I ordered. As they cannot achieve this, they have lost my business.
Determine what your key Target Market wants and aim for that. Do not get caught up marketing and branding yourself in areas that do not matter. It wastes resources and time.
2. Seek to broadcast your Brand’s message and success in these areas as often as possible through creative and consistent communication. There are numerous avenues through which to address and dialogue with your customer base – use them as often and as widespread as possible.
There is no better medium for building a brand, then happy consumers and nothing spreads legitimacy, like word of mouth. The more customers you reach with your brands QUALITY services and products, the more viral your brand will become.
Depositing Goodwill In The Consumer Bank
One great example of Branding through quality service, that stands out for me, dates back to my days with the Customer Service Team of a large local manufacturer. Over the course of several months I had developed a good dialogue and banter with one of our wholesalers. There had been several key moments when he had asked for help to remedy errors on their part. Our company had no actual responsibility to assist, however we took on a little extra labor and cost, and gave him a hand.
Catch that? We were in no way beholden to help with his errors, it cost one of our reps some time and effort and it cost the business a few extra dollars – we could have easily said “sorry we cannot help you with this” and walked away with no hard feelings, instead we went the extra mile.
Sure enough several months after all of this, we missed a high priority shipment to this same wholesaler. I emailed with a profuse apology, explained the situation and waited to get slammed.
His reply was simple: “no worries you have investments in the bank of Jake (his name) and you are allowed to make a withdrawal every once in awhile”.
I was taken aback, our extra service had been remembered, we had “deposited” GOODWILL with him. Our Brand had established enough goodwill, good faith and reputation with him, that he stood by us despite our error. That is what effective Branding can do.
A good example of what not to do, comes from a recent interaction I had with an international courier service. I was forced to spend over 2 hours listening to their on-hold propaganda about their outstanding deliveries and service. This all spanned three different phone calls with three different answers to the same inquiry. The final straw came when I was told by the service rep that they did not know where the package was, and to just “wait and see if it turns up tomorrow”.
Service is key to Branding. Build your service and you will build your reputation. Build your reputation and you have built your Brand.