There’s an old saying that “the devil is in the details,” and this is especially true when you’re trying to build your business brand.
Every detail counts. Each one either supports your brand or detracts from it. That's why the first fundamental and overriding rule of branding is consistency.
Here are six brand building blocks that need your special attention in 2017.
The first impression you make on prospects is usually visual — your website, your social media marketing, your business card, your mailing piece or your brochure. Therefore, perfecting the look and feel of your online presence and your real-world presence are critical.
If your marketing materials are a hodgepodge of colors, fonts, graphics and design aesthetics, you won’t make any brand impact. Every major legacy brand, as well as the most successful Internet/tech brands have maintained consistency in these areas; that’s not by accident.
2. Public image
How your company conducts itself is even more important than the font you choose for your logo. Consider these questions:
- How do your employees answer the phone?
- How does your community view your business?
- Is your email communication polite, clear and grammatically correct?
All of these say something about your brand. If you fail to cultivate the right public image, your brand will suffer. Focus on ways to improve company culture to help your employee’s value their positions within your company and work harder as a direct result.
3. Your brand focus
Customer service expert Shep Hyken urges companies to understand and clearly define “what lane they are in." When your business strays from its lane, it confuses customers, detracts from your brand and ultimately hinders your ability to succeed.
The problem is that it is often tempting to stray. You see someone else having success using a different strategy or business plan than yours and you get the urge to jump on that bandwagon. I’m not saying that you should never pivot, but you can’t start grabbing every shiny object you see.
Ask yourself this question: What is the one thing that my business is most known for? Are you the low-price leader? The customer service leader? The quality leader? The most friendly?
If you can’t answer that question, then you should probably survey customers and find out what your reality is and see if it make sense.
4. Brand seeds
Johnny Appleseed. Now there’s a personal brand! Every tree he planted spread his brand message.
You need to come up with programs, systems and habits that plant your brand seeds and add value without the sales pitch. Today you need to do this online and in the real world. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Establish a referral program. Tap your customers to spread the word about your business. This strategy works online and offline.
- Give out swag and offer a loyalty program. Reward your best customers. Give them some hugs and they’ll spread the love.
- Network. Get involved in your community and your industry. Make connections and help others.
- Create shareable social media content. Don’t see all your social media posts as “advertising.” Create some content that people will just plain like and share it with their social media following.
- Put employees first. When members of your team feel valuable and empowered, they will become brand ambassadors.
5. Social media platforms
We discuss the importance of social media marketing so much that many business owners think it’s a panacea that will pay immediate returns. It isn’t. You must commit to being in it for the long haul.
It's wise to have an intense presence on at least two social media platforms and at least some presence on the others. The important thing to do first is find your best platforms.
Consider your customer persona and which social media platforms this person will be most active on. There’s also good guidance on the demographics of the various platforms available on the Internet. Further, set aside a small budget to test some advertising on the social media platforms. You can do a good job narrowly defining your target audience. You can also choose between strategies such as directly advertising a certain offer or building your following (which means more people would see your organic posts).
Video has been a major player for brands over the last several years. A YouTube channel will serve you well in a variety of ways. You can use it to inform and educate your audience and YouTube videos receive prime placement in Google search results, which will increase your web traffic.
The last year, however, has seen a change in Internet video with the rise of live streaming video. Facebook is now doing heavily promoting its live streaming video platform. And because Facebook is in the process of establishing this service, businesses can freely broadcast live to their followers. Remember when your Facebook posts used to go to virtually all of your followers? We call those the good old days. Today is the good old days of Facebook video; take advantage of it.
Periscope has risen to the top of the other live streaming video services and for some businesses, using it on a regular basis makes a lot of sense. As with legacy social media, explore live streaming video to find the platform that works best for you as well as they kind of content that your customers and prospects prefer.
Doing a good job with each of these six brand building blocks will set you up for success in the years to follow. Be honest as you evaluate where you stand on each of them. In some cases, you may want to consult with others and even turn to using mystery shoppers, surveys or similar strategies.
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