In today’s world, your brand is your identity. A strong brand must entertain, educate, and inspire your customers. A great brand represents more than a product—it embodies a company’s core values, which creates an emotional connection between your customers and your brand. This emotional connection is what will drive customers to action.
According to Forbes contributor, Jerry McLaughlin, “Brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you, a product, a service, an organization, a cause, or an idea. Brand building is the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in someone else’s mind.”
Here are a few tips to consider when building your brand.
1. Have a great product.
As Kevin Lane Keller—branding expert and professor at Dartmouth— said: the heart of a great brand is a great product. Your product should be an essential part of a customer’s everyday life, have multiple functions, and always be one step ahead of your customers and competitors. Even the best brands in the world would be useless if their product wasn’t up to par. For example, the USB Pet Rock would still be a flop even if a legendary brand like Apple developed it.
2. Be transparent.
Every employee should know your company’s brand and what it stands for through and through. That way, customers receive a clear and consistent brand message regardless of who they’re talking to. Find a concise, simple way to explain what you do. Educating your employees is key—give employees an easy way to learn and stay on brand. We use brand.exacttarget.com to educate employees, partners, and media on our brand and brand guidelines.
3. Master the art of communication.
Create engaging experiences for your customers that encourage them to interact with your brand. Be prepared to respond quickly and positively to questions via social media. Know how to best connect with your customers—and act on it!
4. Be aware of your online presence.
Have an impressive website, frequently update your social media pages, and monitor what content you’re putting out for the world to see. However, be careful to not let the channel rule the brand—as Fast Company expert blogger David Brier says: social media is a channel not a brand strategy.
5. Promote your brand, not your industry.
Avoid using clichés to describe your brand—be intentional. Know what your customers are really buying. Brier explains that Nike sells sneakers and sportswear—but Nike’s customers are buying the hope of better athletic performance. Being aware of what your customer truly wants will make your brand stand out amongst your competitors. A brand strategy should focus on the core value proposition and not superficial feature enhancements.
Applying these practices can help strengthen your brand’s position in the market. It’s important to keep in mind that unaided awareness—such as logo design—is equally as important as the foundation of your brand. Look out for the next post on best practices for building your visual brand identity.
Coauthored by Jordan Noel and Allison Czaicki