Maybe you helped develop your company name, designed the logo and wrote every product title and tagline. But none of that necessarily equates to creating a brand on its own. In fact, as a business owner, you don’t own your brand, as brand ownership is truly in the hands of your customers, clients and/or business partners.
In essence, a brand is the perception of your company by the public. And while all your properties help support a brand, it’s up to consumers to decide what that brand really means in the marketplace through purchases and repeat business. So, while you can’t control your brand, you can certainly facilitate it with branding strategies proven to work over decades of practice. Whether you’re building a new business or rebranding a company after years of poor strategy, these are some tactics that just plain work.
Millennials are now the largest purchasing demographic throughout the United States — and they’re more skeptical than the Gen X and boomer consumers that came before them. In an age where everything from products to restaurants can be reviewed online by anyone, millennials can do the research on anything with a simple Google search — and they’re all looking for a reason to not buy what you’re selling.
Skeptical consumers are good for ensuring quality products and customer service always hit the market, and yours should be at the forefront of your own marketing. Companies like Nexen Tires have embraced a “no-bull” approach to marketing its new line of tires by simply releasing statistics and letting their customers and prospects make a decision. Millennials, who can see right through any pomp and circumstance, appreciate this type of transparency. In other words, let the actual product or service do the talking.
Customer service is a big part of a brand’s influence. After all, it’s why people will pay an annual fee for an American Express card over a Visa or MasterCard. And it’s why people will pay more at a high-end retail store over saving money on Amazon. Sometimes, customer service is seen as part of the product and the brand itself.
T-Mobile was one of the first companies to take the reins on customer service using social media. The national retailer staffed an entire team whose sole job was to monitor complaints and feedback on Twitter and address each one directly. The act was unprecedented for its time, and now consumers and product advocates expect such levels of customer service when interacting with a modern company.
When the simple facts about your brand are not enough, never underestimate the power of an emotional connection. One of the most memorable scenes from the AMC series, Mad Men depicts creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) pitching a marketing campaign for Kodak’s new projector, the Carousel. What follows is an emotional connection to a product that does nothing more than project photos on the wall. However, Kodak executives are so blown away by Draper’s pitch that no other agency stands a chance.
Today, no other company creates an emotional hook better than Apple. When it launches a new iPhone or MacBook, Apple doesn’t just show you the megapixels or processor speed; rather, the Silicon Valley giant shows you how the device changes lives. Creating an emotional connection is about putting the “why” before the “what” and the “how.”
Follow Trends, But Don’t Fall for Them
There will always be new marketing trends — some of them work; a lot of them don’t. The problem isn’t that they’re lousy or useless; it’s just that some companies mindlessly hop on the bandwagon, where trends become oversaturated and overused. Keep up on trends and explore the possibility of using them in your line of business, but don’t negate tried-and-true practices that will continue to serve as the bedrock and backbone of your branding strategy.