Great brands are hard to build and can be lost in a second.
They require consistency, quality and value. Fail to deliver on those, just once, and your brand is tarnished. Reestablishing the brand is a hard and long process.
Here are some brand building certainties.
We do not choose to have a brand, we have one. Have you done surveys or focus groups to find out what yours actually is? It may not be what you think or hope it to be.
The truth builds the brand. Hiding bad news equals worse news. Airlines have had a tough time post-pandemic. When planes get canceled or delayed, that’s not the time for excuses, it’s the time for truth – and – generous compensation for the trouble. I had favorite airlines I won’t fly today because they did the opposite.
Trust builds the brand, consistency builds trust. Even if you are consistently mediocre, that’s a start. Work on raising every touch point you have with customers so that there are no weak links in the process.
Focus on brand building. Represent the few ideas you want the brand to represent. Three is usually the most. You can’t be all things to all people. It’s a process of broadening your appeal by narrowing your focus.
Don’t copy, if someone else is doing it, don’t. There is a furniture store in my area running TV ads filmed in their showroom – with a camel and a monkey next to the salesperson. Someone else in the area is watching and asking themselves the question, “Where can I find a camel for my ad?” Whoever sold them on that idea should be convicted of marketing malpractice.
We’re not competing with other mattress brands as much as we’re competing with our customer’s perception of our brand. That’s why building the brand is so important. You can control this with intentionality. You have no control over what the competition is doing.
Technology is nice, but we’re social beings. Make human contact. We’re all for technology. AI is not the future anymore. It’s here to stay. So this one is not an either/or, it’s a both/and. While you’re trying to keep your head above the technology tsunami, slow down enough to regularly provide your team with enhanced social skills as well. Each associate is the brand impression to someone.
There is no such thing as small stuff. Do more than watch the details, control them. Maybe you are not a detail person. If so, you had better find one, and fast. I happen to be that detail person. If a leaf of grass is out of place on the front lawn, I’m the one who sees it and straightens it up. Typos on your website, dirt on the showroom floor, filthy bathrooms (please tell me you’d notice that), windows that are smudgy instead of sparkling clean – do I need to go on?
More than you would like to imagine your target audience doesn’t get it. That’s why you work as hard on communication as you do operations. You live and breathe your business, your potential customers do not. Apple is a genius at this. I don’t need to know all the intricacies of making an iphone in China or the high level research that goes into their products. I just need to open the box and have it work for me. If you’re selling mattresses, your customer just wants the best sleep of their life. Sell that.
Assume everyone could communicate more clearly. You think all your messages are crystal clear? Think again. Assume your website, advertising, signage, social media, benefits at the point of sale, all of it, can and must be continuously improved. Parse the words over and over again. I promise you there is a better word somewhere in your branding that needs to be changed.
I know the satisfaction of completing a brand new website. I also know that the day it goes live, improvements must begin. If you’ve finished a communication project and are thinking to yourself, “well, I’m glad that’s over”, you need to get over that thinking.
Time to go. I know the next time I publish this it can be improved.
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