There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the word “brand”. We think it simply refers to a company name, tagline, and logo. But a brand is so much more.
As entrepreneurs, we get caught up in the tactics of marketing and selling, that we forgot about the real reason our business exists. Our message gets diluted by all the fancy tricks, strategies, and hacks, that for our customers, the message gets blurry.
If you find yourself asking “What social media platform should I use?”, or “Should I use Facebook advertising or Google AdWords?”; then you are asking the wrong questions.
Before you spend money on advertising, a fancy website or hire an expensive consultant, first think of where you want you business to be and how you want people to perceive you.
This is an essential part of positioning yourself in the market so that your message resonates with the right people. Otherwise, your efforts are a waste of time.
What is a brand?
Think of your brand as how people “feel” about you. Branding is the intangible elements like trust, empathy, value proposition, uniqueness, a perception of quality, emotional connection.
The key difference between marketing and branding is this: marketing is what you “do”, your promise; branding is what you “are”, your experience.
To get your messaging right you first have you position your brand in the mind of the consumer, and then your tactics or marketing strategies can follow.
As the old saying goes, you can’t put the cart before the horse. If we want to attract customers and keep them, we need to reverse engineer our brand story.
Now you’re probably thinking, “yes that’s great but what does that mean about my business brand?”
There is the old sales jargon “ABC” which stands for “Always Be Closing” made famous in the 1992 movie ‘Glengarry Glen Ross” starring Alec Baldwin. It paints the picture of a pushy, sleazy, aggressive sales person trying to hoodwink prospects into buying his goods.
The “always be pitching” adage simply doesn’t work today and for many businesses brands it's difficult to adapt to a new way of doing business.
Instead, the 21st century way of doing business is the new ABC: “Always Be Connecting”.
(I’ve put together a special Branding Toolkit you can download for free. Click here to download)
Why doing business is like dating
Today a successful business is built on the cornerstone of trust. Like any relationship, trust is built over time. Once trust is earned, brand loyalty becomes one of the most valuable assets any business can have.
Think of it this way; would you go up to a cute girl at a bar and say “Hi honey want to get married?” If you’re the girl, you probably want to slap him and think “what a creep go away!” If you’re the guy, you are probably thinking “Why doesn’t she love me?”
Hang on Romeo hold your horses! She doesn't know you from Adam, she just layed eyes on you, and you haven’t even asked her name. How do you know if you are her type? Do you even know if she is married? Instead, you should approach the relationship slowly, read the body language cues, ask her name, offer to buy her a drink.
Why then as business owners do we act like the creepy guy shoving our business card in the face of our prospects before we’ve given them a chance to get to know us first?
How to make customers fall in love with your brand
To win over customers, our brand needs to do more than simply offer roses and chocolate. To make the relationship last, we first need to truly understand our customers needs and wants. This is how we develop an affinity for our brand and help them fall in love with us.
Tip #1: Develop your Brand Story
Think of your brand story as your way of speaking French the language of love. If you are approaching a customer who only speaks Italian, your efforts are futile, and she won’t understand a word you are saying.
The best way to figure out your brand story is to ask yourself “Why does my business exist?”
If you simply want to make a quick buck, unfortunately, that won’t be enough to make a meaningful connection. You need to know, know, who you are and what you stand for. What is it that you believe? What is your ultimate purpose in the world? Why should people buy from you?
Only once you can articulate your message and your mission in a clear and concise way, can your ideal customer connect with you. The most important element is to appeal to the emotions.
For example, LensCrafters is a national American franchise of eyeglass providers. What they do is provide vision care, and they have many competitors in the marketplace. However, what makes them different is their brand story. They partner with the non-profit OneSight to provide eye care to the less fortunate and everyone who works for the company believes in its cause.
Their tagline is…
“We are not in the vision care business because we love selling glasses. We do what we do because we love eyes, and we care about the people behind them.”
Tip #2 Develop a Client Avatar
Throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick is a very bad way to attract clients. It’s like hope marketing!
If you don’t know what makes your ideal customer tick, what she desires, what she values, her “hot” buttons; it's just a guessing game.
Get into the mindset of who she is to understand truly what she values, so when you propose your products or services they meet a need she is looking to fulfill. Decide on the story your marketing content should be telling.
Go deeper than the usual demographic analysis; walk in her shoes, feel her pain and find her purpose. Then align your purpose with hers, and you have a match made in heaven!
For example, Apple has done a very good job of creating deep brand loyalty with its fans. The success of it’s “Think Different” ad campaign and “To the Crazy Ones” television commercial proved to be one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in history.
The ad execs appealed to the mavericks, the nonconformists, the change makers. By being so specific with their brand message, they created an almost cult following.
The sense of belonging that Apple fans have with the brand runs deep, no matter that the price tag of an Apple computer is higher than its competitors. An Apple fan will buy every product the company produces because it built its brand on quality, trust and difference. I should know I am one!
(I’ve put together a special Branding Toolkit you can download for free. Click here).
Tip #3: Develop a Strategy
What is your brand personality? How do you behave in the marketplace? How do you want people to perceive you? How will you deliver on your brand promise?
Build a strategy that emphasizes your value proposition (what you pay for vs. what you get). This strategy will help you tremendously in deciding on what actions to take.
Your strategy relates to everything from the language you use in social media, to the choice of copy on your website, to the style of font on your business cards. Keep it consistent so that people can recognize you to build on the trust factor.
For example, if you are a jewelry designer who sells high-end pieces, you wouldn’t advertise in the local paper with the “50% off Sale this Weekend only!” This creates a disconnect, how can you be high-end and discount your prices? It just doesn’t make sense.
Tip #4: Decide on your Tactics
Once you know where you want to be in the marketplace and how you want to position your brand, making the choice of which social media platform to use or where to advertise will be an easy choice.
How we decide on which tactics to use depends on how we plan on solving our customers problems and putting their needs first. How do you fulfill your brand’s promise and provide value?
For example, if you are an upscale wedding photographer, everything about your brand will say boutique. A clever tactic would be to provide a personalized hand written thank you note, design a customized genuine leather wedding album, and deliver the album in a pretty bag with bows. Every touch point with your client would show that you take the time to care, thereby entrenching that your higher price tag is worth the investment.
Tip #5: Measure the Results
If we want to know if our branding efforts have been successful, we need to decide on a way of measuring the results.
How do you plan on encouraging your customers to take action? Will they click an ad, fill in a survey, take a quiz, pick up the phone, RSVP to an event, purchase a product?
For example, if you want to measure the effectiveness of a Facebook advertising campaign, sending your prospects to a generic website link makes it hard to track the results. Instead, create a specific landing page with the offer of a fremium (a free download to encourage them to give you their email address) and track the number of email addresses that sign up.
Make it Matter
Once you’ve decided on your brand story and your message, then you can nurture a relationship built on trust.
Once you are trustworthy, you become valuable. Once you become valuable, what you do and who you are matters to the world.
Once you matter, you will have created brand evangelists who love you and will do anything for you! That makes a happy marriage.
And that my friends, is the silver bullet.
Ep 131 – Audio Tool of the Day
On the audio version of this blog, you will hear Julia talk about branding tactics. She also mentions a book called Insanely Simple by Ken Segal, which is a brilliant book based on Steve Jobs and the Apple brand – he hits things with the simple stick!