When Coca-Cola or McDonalds air an ad, they aren't introducing new customers to their product—everyone already knows that they exist. Instead, they are keying into the already present branding that exists inside of our cultural zeitgeist. Creating a brand—and anchoring that brand with positive emotions—leads directly to long-lasting success.
Here's how it works—and how you can take advantage of it.
What's in a Brand?
A brand is more than just a company logo and motto: it's a company identity. Branding tells a customer about the company's values, as well as the experience they can expect to have when interacting with the business.
For example, when someone thinks of Folgers' Coffee, they think of waking up with the family that they love. It's this association that's critical to customer success. When customers see that brand, they need to feel an emotion. That emotion encourages them to make a purchase.
But building a brand is about more than selling and marketing a product. It's about the complete customer journey: the entirety of a customer's relationship and experience with the company. A brand encompasses every touch point the customer has ever had with the business, as well as their memories of those experiences.
What does a company mean to a customer? That's what's in a brand.
Building a Strong Brand
Customers today are more interested in developing relationships with brands than necessarily getting the best deal. Good customer support and strong values have become rare—customers are disenchanted with the workings of large mega-corporations and faceless online companies.
In fact, many customers are willing to work with a company that has an inferior product if they have better customer service. When you build a strong brand, you can take advantage of this to outpace your competition.
But that means you need to build a strong brand first. You need to know how to reach out to your customers and how to deliver them the experience that they want.
Here are a few ways you can improve your branding:
Connect with customers one-on-one
Customers miss experiencing a personalized, individual approach to customer care. Rather than feeling like a faceless cog in a machine, they want to see that they are valued. Customer relationship management suites can help you build this type of relationship with your accounts, but your company culture also needs to adjust.
Produce a high quality, consistent customer experience
Consistency is a major component to any brand. When someone goes into a McDonalds, they always know the experience they're going to get. Don't underestimate the importance of reliability. Creating reliable business processes and a systems of checks-and-balances is a way to make sure customers get what they expect every time.
Make sure the customers always come first
To make customers feel valued, you need to think about them throughout all of your business processes. Your services and products should be developed with them in mind. You should also create a customer-first company culture.
Listen to customer reviews and suggestions.
Customers know what they want best. If customers have suggestions for you, you should listen to them. This gives you the option of fine-tuning your business processes to be more successful.
As you can see, the strength of your branding is going to rest on how well you interact with your customers. If you can listen to and build relationships with your customers, you can build your brand and improve upon its success. Your brand will start to grow itself over time, becoming exponentially more powerful and expanding your audience organically.