Nike, Google, Apple. What do they all have in common? Great branding. They sell some of the world’s most popular products, yet are able to charge a premium just because their name has been put to the item or service they are providing.
It’s a commonly known fact that people buy into brands, not products. No longer are consumers buying products because they actually need them. Look at how many of us upgrade our iPhones to the latest model each year as an example, we don’t necessarily need a new phone, but if Apple is telling us we do, then we automatically buy what they are saying because we trust the brand.
A brand is one of, if not, the most important element to a business. It encompasses everything your company has to say for itself – it’s less about the logo and tag line, and more about connecting with your audience and how you act in the presence of them.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”- Dale Carnegie ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People.’
In short, your brand needs to hold an influence over your audience and to do that you need to be your customer’s friend. If we’re lucky, then we only want to be friends with people that we have something in common with, who understands and interests us and makes us feel good. A brand should think along these lines when communicating with a consumer.
If brands are able to achieve this level of influence, then they are going to reach a point where consumers will be unknowingly influenced by a brand. That’s not to say that you won’t then have to work hard to maintain such an influence (this is 2017 and competition is fierce), but building a meaningful relationship with your audience will create an element of trust between brand and consumer which can prove invaluable.
A recent study found that 59% of shoppers prefer to shop with brands which are familiar to them and 59% of consumers stating that their decision to purchase from a brand comes after their first purchase with them – businesses truly cannot afford to ignore this area of their business.
Here are five elements businesses need to conquer:
Trust is the most important component of the consumer-brand relationship. It’s a fundamental element of life which we desire in all of the relationships we make, so the bond with an organisation is no different.
In order for consumers to feel confident that a brand has their best interest at heart, and is the reliable provider of that product or service, then trust is one of the most influential factors in determining this.
How to: be human. Don’t disengage from your audience and talk to them as though you are talking to an equal and a friend.
Engage with your audience
Relationships are a two-way street, so if your audience are taking the time to engage with you as a brand, then you should be taking the time to engage with them in response. Of course, it would be impossible to interact directly with every single follower or engagement that you receive if you are a larger brand, but the premise that you do respond to a handful is enough to present you in a good light.
Engagement is a term which is difficult to define, as it could also be defined as the length of time someone chooses to engage with your website or something you have created for example. Therefore, define what engagement means to your brand and the context in which it will be measured.
How to: focus on listening to what your audience want. If they are engaging with a particular piece of content – why? If they are providing feedback on social media – what is it? Use engagement to define the direction your brand goes in.
Be a leader
The brands we listed at the start of the article also have something else in common; they’re leaders within their industry. And if a brand is a leader in their realm, then we automatically assume as consumers that they must be the best to purchase from.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it does help to demonstrate the power that being seen as a leader can have on your audience.
How to: lead by example, challenge industry perceptions and set a precedent for your competitors to try and beat.
Reflect consumer values
We don’t all have the same views as one another, and we don’t need to hold the same opinions, but holding the same values as your audience can ensure you are both aligned with one another’s views – or at the very least retain some common ground.
As a brand you hold the power in helping to shape consumer values, but having a grasp on what your audience believes to be important can ensure you are on the right track.
How to: communicate your brand values throughout your campaigns, but do so in a genuine way. Simply putting your name to the cause of the moment without little thought is transparent, so take a stance which shows your commitment to a certain social or environmental responsibility.
Richard LeCount from USB4Photographers shares his advice on keeping your brand genuine: “Keeping your business on brand is essential, and it needs to extend to all areas of your business. Steer away from news-jacking where possible. There’s no such thing as ‘all press is good press’ so keep a social media policy in place which covers all tones and topics to avoid falling foul.”
Lastly, be present and visible to your consumers. You don’t need to be on every social media network or changing your campaign every week – take a slow and steady approach to your marketing. Too much and your audience will turn off, too little and you’ll find they forget about you altogether.
How to: ensure that your brand is always visible to your consumers by keeping a consistent presence across all the channels that you use. If you always post a blog once a week, don’t miss it. If you update social media once a day, don’t forget.
Emily Jarvis is a former business consultant, she is currently working as a freelance writer sharing her expert advice and tips within the business industry.