How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales

Bring to mind someone you love and know well. When they announce happy news, how do they do it?

 

It may be because of their personal brand type they give you the message as they bound into your home, all high-energy and dramatic, practically jumping up and down until you take the bait and ask them what they have to say. Or it could be they wait with calm, measured control until dinner is served, the family gathered at the table, before they quietly tell their news.

 

All people are different.

 

Each of us, according to our personality, convey messages differently. And it’s the same for brands and businesses. Each has it’s own personality and each delivers messages with a specific brand tone of voice.

 

The world’s best, most loved brands are those who have mastered brand tone of voice. The company’s personality shines through and it delivers messages in a tone that resonates with a specific group of people; their target audience.

 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what brand tone of voice is, how to develop it, and examples of companies who lead the way. A strong brand, with a strong tone of voice, will overtake its competitors and attract the right target audience. The result for the brand owner is increased sales.

What Is Brand Tone of Voice?

A brand’s voice is the personality it conveys, and which shines through in all it communicates. A brand’s tone of voice, is how the message is said. Online, brand tone of voice is the attitude of your content.

 

Right now, your brand already has a voice, as well as a tone of voice. The big question is this: what does your brand voice convey to your target audience?

 

For instance, does your brand say, “Thank you, Jeff!” or does it say, “Thanks, Jeff.”?

 

Things to consider for conveying tone of voice:

 

  • Is your brand more formal or casual?
  • On social media and in emails, do you use slang or emoticons?
  • Do you make up your own words, like “peeps” for “people”, or “delish” for “delicious”?
  • How does your brand use punctuation?
  • Do you use humour and if so, how?

 

Once you decide on the tone of voice you want to convey, through the brand profiling process, you need to do it consistently. If you have a team of people working with you, it can be especially difficult to keep your branding elements consistent.

 

 

In fact you will need to develop a brand style guide so you can manage and protect your valuable brand assets effectively. A comprehensive brand style guide will also help you avoid unintentional brand self sabotage or the dilution of your brand. In truth a brand can never have major impact or become very strong unless it is intentionally developed, managed and controlled using brand profiling and brand guidelines.

 

One company that does an exceptional job with their brand tone of voice is Mailchimp, an online email marketing and automation platform. To keep their brand consistent, they created a comprehensive style guide[1]:

 

Image via MailChimp

 

 

Have a look at a screenshot of their YouTube videos – you can see just by the video images on their channel page, that their brand style guide works beautifully to keep their branding consistent:

 

Image via MailChimp

 

Watch one of Mailchimp’s videos to get their full brand tone of voice experience:

 

 

 

What is your brand tone of voice telling people about who you are, and does it resonate with your target audience?

 

 

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

Your Brand Tone of Voice Must Speak to Your Target Customer

Every business – including B2B’s – sell to people. It’s the people in companies who make decisions. The solutions you provide cater to a certain group of people or companies.

 

Before your business builds a branding strategy, it would need to create purchaser personas, fictional characters who embody and fully represent your ideal customer.

 

All branding should be built on the target customer at its core because you can’t effectively sell to people you don’t understand. You have to speak their language: what keeps them up at night? What are the problems they have that you can solve? What do they love? And so on.

 

Every business has a minimum of between two to twenty different ‘Purchase Personas’ so it’s essential you identify and map out each of your different customer types because you need to understand your target audience; their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations intimately, in order to maximize your brand strategy impact.

 

In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. As you map out each of your different customer types using the ‘Purchaser Personas’ system, the outputs provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand tone of voice is built to speak to your customers on their terms so they find your message compelling — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. The course also takes you through all the critical steps you need to build your brand tone of voice. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

 

 

Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction and expert consulting support to build your brand and would like to discuss working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00). We’d be thrilled to chat with you.

 

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel[2] is a case in point. In 2015, they launched their new brand voice; their goal being to create a refreshed, relevant voice that firmly positioned the hotel in the luxury top tier.

 

Related: Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

To this effect, they used consumer insights on their target audience, getting feedback from more than 3000 “luxury” customers around the world.

 

 

Video via: Ritz-Carlton Hotel

 

Is your brand tone of voice resonating with your target audience?

 

Related: Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

Brand Tone of Voice and Word Style

Words impact your brand’s tone of voice, message style and personality in every single piece of communication, whether offline or online, whether it’s your HR department putting recruitment adverts in newspapers, the emails your employees send out, mobile text messages, frontline call centre language and phone scripts, social media responses, flyers, business cards, blog articles and so on.

 

Everything the public can see about your business is a message you’re sending out.

 

This message can either help or harm your reputation, so it has to be carefully crafted.

 

Related: Brand Crisis – How to Manage, Survive and Thrive

 

A brilliant example of brand word styles is provided by Donald Trump in his fight for presidency in 2016. In this next video, we take a look at the difference between the Donald Trump and the Russell Brand brands.

 

While Trump uses small, common, simple words, Brand uses uncommon, more complicated, sophisticated words. The way they speak is not by accident, but rather by design. Trump understands that shorter, simpler words are understood by a larger number of people while longer, less common words may carry more precision to a specific audience profile:

 

 

Video by Charisma on Command

 

Now unlike Donald Trump who made his billions long before he became the US president, Pat Flynn[3] is a well-known and respected online marketer who started his business ventures from nothing. In fact, in 2008 he was laid off from his job and forced to make a living doing something he knew nothing about: online marketing.

 

Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

 

In a world of sometimes less than honourable, online scams, Flynn brands himself as an ethical marketer. As such, he is open about his family and his life. To back up his “ethical-ity”, on the home page of his website, he’s given prominence to his monthly earnings. When the visitor clicks on it, they can choose to view monthly income reports.

 

Image via Smart Passive Income

 

Watch for the words and tone of voice Flynn uses in one of his videos:

 

 

Video by: Smart Passive Income

 

Flynn portrays himself as a humble, transparent family man who cares about his customers and visitors alike, whose principled and who can be trusted. This ultimately leads to increased sales; that’s the power of his brand’s tone of voice.

 

Whether your business is small, medium or a large conglomerate, your brand is sending out messages via the words it uses and how it behaves through its personality.

Brand Tone of Voice in Social Media

If your brand is participating on social media platforms, you are sending out messages to the public at large, and to potential prospects.

 

Unfortunately, because social media marketing is still in its relative infancy, many businesses just don’t get it right, and small to medium sized companies have a real struggle to understand and use social media to optimize their earnings.

 

But one small company has mastered social media tone of voice, and that is MOZ, an SEO consulting company with a staff complement of less than 150.

 

MOZ has a heavy online presence and is beloved by the SEO community. Why? The content they produce is clever, bright and fun. SEO being a very complex and sometimes technical topic, part of their brand standard is to make information simple to understand, even for the complete newbie.

 

In the MOZ style guide[4], they are specific about their brand tone of voice, and it is reflected in all the content they produce, whether published on their website, or uploaded to social media:

 

MOZ is clear about their brand tone of voice, and it is reflected in all their content.

 

Image via Moz

 

Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits

 

In the next example, you can see the MOZ brand tone of voice in action on their Facebook page:

 

 

Each blog post they upload as a Facebook status, includes a helpful summary, and the images they create are customized, fun and eye catching:

 

Image via MOZ Facebook page

 

All the images MOZ uses for their content are specially designed and eye catching, like this one.

 

No matter how much interaction you currently create on social media, brand tone of voice is essential to convey the right message, to the specific group of people you are targeting — your ideal ‘Purchaser Personas’ — if you want to increase your sales.

 

Related: Social Branding: The New Rules for Brand Success on Social Media

Summary

Your brand’s tone of voice acts like a magnet to attract the right people, your ideal customers, so you can increase your sales.

 

To be effective, your brand voice needs to speak to your specific target audience, not to everybody. Words play a huge part in brand personality, and your word style needs to be carefully constructed using brand profiling and then rolled out through the company as part of your brand strategy with absolute consistency. Remember consistency engenders trust and people, customers, only buy from people — brands they know, like and trust.

 

Your brand tone style guide needs to include social media content and the formulation of responses to messages.

Questions To Consider in Your Brand Tone of Voice

  • What is your current tone of voice conveying to customers and prospects?
  • What does your tone of voice say about what you stand for and who you are?
  • Do you need to re-evaluate your brand tone of voice or perhaps give it a brand refresh?
  • Does your tone of voice resonate with the people who matter most; your ideal target customers?

 

Does your brand tone of voice need a health check? Start your brand audit here.

 

Related: Rebranding: 15 Do’s and Don’ts for Brand Success

 

 

[1] http://styleguide.mailchimp.com/voice-and-tone/

[2] http://www.ritzcarlton.com/

[3] https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/about/

[4] https://ux.moz.com/guides/voice-tone/

 

Personality Matters: Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Profits

Breathe life into your brand. Like people, strong successful brands are alive; they have a distinct voice, individualistic traits, characteristics, and personalities. Brands must continually grow and evolve to stay relevant, or die. As with people, the development and reinforcement of that personality creates a unique persona and serves to differentiate your brand from the others, particularly the competition.

 

David Ogilvy, the “The Father of Advertising,” who is credited with having introduced the concept of brand personality in 1955, is widely quoted as saying, “Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.”

 

 

Where does this brand personality come from? It is crafted and nurtured by the stewards of the brand: owners, stakeholders, managers, employees, and customers. In an important research paper titled “Dimensions of Brand Personality (1997),” Stanford University Professor Jennifer Aaker discusses the main human characteristics associated with brands.[1] In fact, she argues, the connections can be so strong that, “the personality traits of the people associated with a brand are directly transferred to the brand.”

 

These traits can include gender, age, and more demographics. We could hardly think of Disney without conjuring up the image of a cheerful, adventurous Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend, Minnie.

 

Image via Disney

 

There’s a reason why we’re not conditioned to think of effervescent Coca-Cola as the beverage of retired librarians in a bingo hall. And, since the “Sticky Fingers” album launch in 1971, nobody has wondered whether the hot red lips image is about bad boy Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones.

 

 

Image via Rolling Stones, YouTube

 

Identify the Right Audience

Some brand target audiences are easier to identify and to target appropriately. Kids who fancy a burger and fries with a milkshake relate to those Happy Meal toys from Ronald McDonald, the clown. Of course, the hamburger chain wants to appeal to parents as well, so McDonald’s will provide nutrition facts for popular menu items.

 

 

“Hop in the car, kids!” Adults relate to driving the children to McDonald’s in a car such as Volvo, because that family automobile brand is all about safety.

The skills and insight that go into correctly identifying your primary target audience, and mapping out each of those customer types through their ‘Purchaser Personas’, means that your brand can tap into their attitudes and values to build a simple, strong compelling message in language that they find irresistible.

 

On the other hand, you can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. It’s obvious that putting the right image in front of the wrong audience ensures either an unsuccessful connection or none at all.

Getting it right creates the magnetism that becomes a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types, also known as Purchaser Personas.

 

Build Your Winning Brand Personality with The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme – Watch Your Programme Preview Here

 

 

Appeal to the Right Audiences

In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer ‘Purchaser Personas’ which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter

 

Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

A Perfect Match

Why is brand personality so critical? The personality of a brand determines the relationship a consumer has with the brand. When that connection is an emotional one, it drives purchase. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him or her and sells itself,” according to “The Father of Modern Management,” Peter F. Druker.[2]

 

 

The Brand Personified

So, do I need a Mickey Mouse or a Jolly Green Giant to infuse my brand with personality? No. Assigning personality to one’s brand should not be confused with creating a mascot or partnering with a celebrity to endorse the brand. Both are acceptable, but neither is required.

 

 

Keep in mind that people tend to anthropomorphize; that is, they transfer human personality characteristics to inanimate objects. We do it all the time, even when speaking of diverse items: destinations, fragrances, residential properties, boats and ships referred to as ‘she.’.

 

Professor Aaker charts the five major brand personality dimensions and fifteen facets as follows:

 

Examples: We can match several global brands with their relevant personality types to demonstrate the concept.

  • Sincerity = Nike, Disney, Cadbury’s, Tropicana
  • Excitement = Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Victoria’s Secret
  • Competence = Volvo, Apple, Amazon, Timberland, Intel
  • Sophistication = Chanel, Dos Equis, BMW, Tiffany, Cartier
  • Ruggedness = Patagonia, Old Spice, Jeep, Harley Davidson

 

 

Finding Your Brand Voice for Your SME / SMB Business

For startups, small to medium-sized businesses, finding or re-evaluating your brand voice is a very important process, I’d even go as far a saying is critical to your brand success. SMEs often begin by brainstorming some of the options in a simple YES-NO process to explore whether their brand is, for example:

  • Formal or funny?
  • Masculine or feminine?
  • Adventurous or tame?
  • Young or mature?
  • High tech or traditional?
  • Trendy or classic?
  • Accessible or exclusive?
  • Premium or inexpensive?

 

 

 

Four diverse examples of SME / SMB brands with strong brand personalities that ensure they standout and attract their ideal customers include:

 

We love it: Fashion Award Cleaners

Why it works: A dry cleaner with glam personality? Why not? You’ll notice straight away that owner Debra Kravet has infused personality into “Talk of the Gown,” a 50-year-old family business that is anything but fuddy-duddy. As animated models strut across the virtual Manhattan runway of Debra’s website, any fashionista with a special garment or clothing repair requirement will quickly realize that this miracle cleaner with attitude is likely worth a trip across town, even in rush hour.

 

 

We love it: Daylesford 

Why it works: Founder Carole Bamford’s personal holistic lifestyle is imprinted all over the Daylesford brand in an appealing, authentic one-to-one tone of voice. This Gloucestershire organic farm knows there are other brands you can reach for on the grocer’s shelf; however they take care to present the philosophy behind 35 years of leadership in the farm-to-table approach. “If you understand the story of the Daylesford Pedigree British Friesian dairy cow, you will understand the philosophy that drives Daylesford,” they suggest. You do feel as though you’re being let in on a secret.

 

 

We love it: Seedlip

Why it works: Presenting the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits. The brand story starts out, “Founded by Ben in his kitchen in the woods with a copper still and copy of The Art of Distillation to to continue his family’s 300 year farming ancestry and change the way the world drinks.” We already want to know more, how about you? Next, we meet Ben, discussing a legacy that dates back to 1651. Seedlip’s intriguing personality is equally natural, historically grounded, and innovative at once. Above all, hand-crafted shines through.

 

 

We love it: Hampton Creek

Why it works: Can you truly love a condiment? Just Mayo was the original Hampton Creek product in 2011. This plant-based food company that doesn’t use eggs started out small with strong personality, capitalizing on the “JUST” branding for expanding the line. Investors were attracted to the R&D, vegans were attracted to the solution. A visit to the company’s social media sites reveals the friendly, trusted voice of the brand through shared recipes that produce love — a strong emotion — from customers. Annual revenue is now estimated at $30 million-plus and with 110 employees[3].

 

 

Branding Initiatives Can Start Out Small

While SMEs / SMBs cannot compete with the massive budgets of global brands, their built-in bonus is that smaller companies are much more in touch and personal with their customers, less corporate by their very nature.

The risk, however, is that with all hands on deck required to keep operations and service ticking over, resources are extremely limited to give brand management the time and thought it needs to grow a healthy business with a powerful brand.

Although the science of brand management is a fairly young field of study mainly focused on multinational corporations, 95 percent of all businesses are smaller ones. A 2007 research paper[4] published in the “Journal of Product & Brand Management” makes recommendations to SMEs about finding the resources to tackle branding fundamentals.

At Persona Branding and Design, we act as an extension of your company, recognizing the hugely important influence of the entrepreneurial owner/manager to craft the personality of your brand and give it it’s own unique brand voice. If you’d like some help to develop your brand’s personality feel free to get in touch via email [email protected] or phone +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours).

As with people, a brand’s personality is an all-important building block of that brand’s identity. As we’ve come to understand via thought leaders such as Ogilvy and Druker,   that emotional connection can make all the difference between closing the sale and growing repeat business or struggling to make ends meet while you get caught up in price fights and discounting.

 

Differences Between Brand Personality and Brand Identity

1Brand personality is the way a brand speaks and behavesBrand identity is a collection of mental and functional associations with the brand
2It means assigning human personality traits or characteristics to a brand so you achieve differentiation and create emotional engagement with your ideal customers — emotions drive purchase!Brand identity is the elements of the brand e.g. logo, colour palette, name, symbol that identify and differentiate a brand in your target audiences mind
3Brand personality is created to attract your ideal audience and used throughout all your customers’ experiences and interactions with the brand — on and offlineBrand identity is the collective elements of what your organisation does and promises to customers so you standout and create a unique customer experience i.e. brand vision, mission, purpose, promise etc.

 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand’s Personality

  1. Does your brand personality make your brand dynamically and distinctly different?
  2. Is there a unique set of emotional triggers that people connect with your brand?
  3. How do you use effective techniques to capture attention — for example: tone of voice, storytelling, imagery and more — that project your brand’s personality?
  4. Are you clear on how brand personality provides the direction and lead for your brand identity?
  5. How could strengthening or changing your brand’s personality help you with a brand refresh?
  6. Can you identify the path whereby an emotional connection to your brand would benefit sales?

 

 

[1] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/working-papers/dimensions-brand-personality

[2] Drucker, Peter F.; Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’ (New York: Harper & Row, 1973)

[3] http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Manufacturers/Hampton-Creek-s-revenues-surged-350-in-2015-says-CEO

[4] http://armeconomist.com/topics/brand/sme.htm

 

Brand Stories: 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves

Part 1. (see Part 2 here)

Once upon a time, there was a brand that told its very own compelling story. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. It was the story of how it adds value to people’s lives, how it uniquely solves a problem, how it authentically reaches people, builds an emotional connection with them and gains their trust.

 

 

“It makes “selling” a whole lot easier when your customers actually understand what they’re buying.” (And why). – Kelly Lucente, author

 

 

In fact, that’s what all good brand stories do, from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to iconic brands like Apple and Virgin Group.

 

  • Beginning: Problem. Explain the problem that you set out to solve.
  • Middle: Solution. Describe how you solved it.
  • End: Success. Get excited about the success this produced.[1]

 

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

 

 

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most powerful brands are ones that have successfully told their brand stories in a relatable human, non-corporate way so that customers embrace it and are keen to continue sharing that story via world of mouth.

 

great-stories-are-pollen-hugh-macleod-gapingvoid

Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

 

 

“A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest, it can be: ‘He/she was born, lived, died.’ Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds.” – Doris Lessing, author

 

 

Here we take a closer look at 5 great brand story case studies to see who nailed it, how, and why. SMEs / SMBs can successfully apply many of the universal lessons learned here to smaller brands. The key learning for a company of any size is to remain sharply in focus on: “What are we for? What problem do we solve?”

 

5 Great Brand Stories that Sell Themselves

 

  1. Brand: Airbnb

 

Backstory:

“In fact, by conventional wisdom, it seems like a pretty dumb idea. Who would want to rent spare rooms to strangers from strange cities in their homes? And would you rent a room in someone’s house, instead of a hotel?” in 2011, the technology journalist Om Malik probed for answers to such basic sharing economy questions as he interviewed Brian Chesky, CEO and founder of Airbnb.

 

Problem:

A housing problem occurs when cities sell out during high demand periods. The idea came to Chesky and his college buddy who had a couple of air mattresses to rent out when conventions put too much demand on hotels in San Francisco. That grew to the idea of booking a room anywhere for as short as one night.

 

Solution:

“Live like a local,” is the Airbnb story for this online service that matches people seeking vacation rentals and other short term accommodation needs with hosts who have rooms, apartments, houses or other unique spaces to rent.

 

airbnb-guidebook-things-to-do

Image via Airbnb

 

Success:

Airbnb caught the wave of both the sharing economy and online commerce. In 2016, Airbnb grew at a faster rate than the entire hotel industry, offering 2.3 million housing units in its inventory.[2] The 8-year-old company has a valuation of $30 billion.[3]

 

Takeaway:

Classic design approach. Think through the customer experience, even before they arrive. “Become the patient is a core value,” says Joe Gebbia, Co-founder Airbnb.[4]

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Amazon

 

Backstory:

Customer-driven Amazon.com sold its first book online in 1995, and since then has defined and redefined online retailing for the rest of the Internet retail world.[5] Amazon’s mission statement reads: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”[6]

 

Problem:

Electronic shopping looks to fill the void of shopping by catalogue as the popularity of the internet explodes.

 

Solution:

Working from in his Bellevue, WA garage in 1995, Jeff Bezos identified five products to sell online: CDs and videos, computer hardware and software, and books. Beginning with books, Bezos focused his new avenue for commerce on the web on search, the customer experience and fast delivery.

 

oprahs-favourite-things-on-amazon

Image via Amazon

 

Success:

One of the top five U.S. companies[7], Amazon attracts over 140 million customers per month to its US website as of late 2016.[8] With 36 sub-brands in 13 countries, in 2015, Amazon became the nation’s most valuable retailer. [9]

 

Takeaway:

Experiment, measure, experiment, measure…repeat. “If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Dollar Shave Club

 

Backstory:

In 2012, Co-founder Michael Dubin personally introduced his product in a humorous video produced for only $4500, which launched on YouTube and went viral. Nearly 24 million views later, see how well the video lays out the problem and the solution.

 

Problem:

Razor blades are way too expensive. They’re loaded up with unnecessary technology, locked away on the shopfront floor, and carry too much costly packaging and advertising overhead.

 

Solution:

“Shave time, shave money.” A low-priced, convenient, internet-based subscription model mails razors right to the customer’s door, disrupting giant retailers in the men’s shave market.

 

dollar-shave-club

Image via Dollar Shave Club

 

Success:

In year one, Dollar Shave Club did $4 million in sales. Year two was $19 million and year three was $65 million.[10] In 2016, Unilever purchased Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion to challenge Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, the market leader.

 

Takeaway:

A message for challenger brands: “One category after another is being transformed by new brands as consumers demand more personalized offerings.”[11]

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Facebook

 

Backstory:

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission was to give people the power to share, to make the world more open and connected through friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

 

Problem:

Facebook is about to reach its teen years. How can the blistering pace of growth to 1.59 billion users be sustained?

 

facebook-daily-active-users

Image via TechCrunch

Solution:

Although Facebook is hitting saturation in some markets, there’s room to grow in many developing countries. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg expressed his vision for Facebook’s future at the annual developer’s conference: “Over the long run, we’re building planes and satellites to connect everyone to the internet; artificial intelligence to help us interact with services more easily; and virtual reality to help us experience the world in a totally new way.”

 

facebook-community-update

Image via TechCrunch

Success:

There are another 900 million users on WhatsApp, 800 million on Messenger, 400 million on Instagram, all Facebook properties. Revenue generated from mobile ads jumped 80 percent in the second quarter, faster than Facebook’s overall 59 percent advertising growth rate.[12]

 

Takeaway:

Listen to Mark Zuckerberg talk about the low points in Facebook’s young life. Learn. Evolve. Grow. Rebrand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Guinness

 

Backstory:

“How does a local brand from a small country resonate around the world? How does a brand become inherently part of a nation’s DNA? How does a brand instil pride in it’s country people even though not everyone wants to drink it?…I love the brand, not the product. Walk through the city centre in Dublin any morning, any day of the week and you’ll experience the smell of Dublin, barley roasting in the Guinness Brewery at St James’s Gate, where Guinness has been for over 250 years. You can smell it all over the city. It defines the city.”[13]

 

Problem:

1759 was a long time ago. The brand has a devout cult following. But it also has a corporate owner. How can Guinness connect with each new generation? Can the brand stay young, fresh, innovative? Can Guinness shore up sales as small craft brews gain in popularity?

 

Solution:

“Our Story” figures prominently on the Guinness website. With a 90-second ad, Guinness turns the problem into a solution by positioning themselves as legendary, almost mythical. The video takes us behind the brewery gates for an inside look. “We’re only 255 years into a 9,000-year lease,” Irish actor Cillian Murphy says in a lilting voiceover. “We have a lot more beer to make.”

 

guinness-our-story

Image via Guinness

 

Success:

Guinness defines the category and remains the top producer of stout on the planet. One of only a few truly global beer brands, Guinness sells over 2 billion pints every year in over 150 countries.

 

Takeaway:

Deliver a sense of place for your brand by sharing the insider’s story. “Our greatest work is yet to come,” provides a sense of anticipation…watch this space, it suggests, allowing customers to peek at tomorrow.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nXEDZ4Ru2I

 

 

De-Mystify the Black Art of Branding

 

Successful brands stand out by telling great stories. To earn a strong and positive position in the minds of your customers, your message must be both simple and focused. What takeaways, tips, questions, checklists, insights, and facts can you take from these compelling brand stories and apply to your brand?

 

If you’re struggling with writing and choosing the golden nuggets of your compelling brand story then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. You see, there are ten key areas we focus on during this two day brand building intensive all of which are fully immersive and strategic in nature. Your brand story is one of the core areas of immersion.

 

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If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

Six Questions For SMEs / SMBs to Consider About Brand Stories

  1. Have your defined your brand’s story and found a compelling way to share it with your customers and potential customers?
  2. Does your brand story present and solve a unique problem?
  3. Is your story told in an authentic human voice rather than a corporate one?
  4. Is there an emotional connection in your brand storytelling?
  5. Does your brand story have a beginning, middle and an end? Lastly, is there a call to action?
  6. Have you considered getting input from your customers to help you determine your brand messaging? Their feedback can help you clarify and define the voice behind your company.

 

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[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/create-authentic-brand-story

[2] http://archives.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2016/05/25/airbnbs-enormous-success-is-bigger-than-you-think

[3] http://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-raises-850-million-at-30-billion-valuation-1474569670

[4] http://firstround.com/review/How-design-thinking-transformed-Airbnb-from-failing-startup-to-billion-dollar-business

 

[5] https://www.thebalance.com/amazon-mission-statement-4068548

[6] http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/amazon-com-inc-history

[7] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/23/amazon-climbs-into-list-of-top-five-largest-us-stocks-by-market-cap.html

[8] https://siteanalytics.compete.com/amazon.com/#.WBva-2QrJdg

[9] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?_r=0

[10] http://fortune.com/2015/03/10/dollar-shave-club-founding

[11] https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/22/why-did-unilever-pay-1b-for-dollar-shave-club

[12] http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-posts-strong-profit-and-revenue-growth-1469650289

[13] http://www.trulydeeply.com.au/brand-identity/guinness-art-brand-storytelling

What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

The races for 10 Downing Street and the White House highlight universal lessons in brand strategy for keen observers. As a brand, there’s none more emotive and powerful than a prime minister or president of the United States.

 

The time period available in politics for building a party platform, selecting leaders, and creating a campaign is much shorter, and consequently more intense, compared to all other arenas of brand building.

 

Nonetheless, just like the smallest of brands, the candidates must build that essential emotional bond whether through shaking hands, kissing babies or connecting with consumers at every single touchpoint in a way that’s relevant to them to earn every single vote. As students of brand marketing, the highly focused, condensed time frame and intense process of building a brand to attract voters — similarly to gaining customers — is rich in takeaways for businesses of any size.

 

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US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – (Public Domain)

 

Brand Vision: Differentiation is Everything in Brand Strategy

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m not voting…all politicians are the same.” Political campaigns remind us that clear brand differentiation is key if you are to capture your audience’s attention, imagination and support. In politics that vision is policy; in branding that vision can be whatever you choose…as long as it’s undeniably clear, relevant to your primary audience and expressed in easy to understand language that resonates with them.

 

Hillary-Clinton

Image via hillaryclinton.com

 

Explain your brand vision. Paint a picture of what the world could look like and how others can be part of that when they buy into the vision of your brand. This must be a really bright North Star that shines for your audience and attracts word-of-mouth referral time after time.

 

Listen as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delineates four essential human freedoms. FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech leaves no question regarding the nation’s vision, “attainable in our own time and generation,” on the eve of US involvement in World War II.

 

 

Listen as John F. Kennedy takes just 30 seconds to articulate his vision in the 1961 inaugural address, speaking first to Americans and then to fellow citizens of the world.

 

 

 

Healthy Brand Competition

 

In sales training, we’re taught to emphasize benefits; trashing the competition is not the right approach. Some politicians are known to be terrible at this. Instead of articulating an optimistic vision, candidates often tell you how lousy the incumbent and/or the competition is. Arguably some consider Donald Trump to be the champion of insults — a skill he developed on reality television and honed in debates — which doesn’t always translate so well in real life.

 

 

To get out the vote, that political position must be communicated across all stakeholders: volunteer voter registration workers, doorbell ringers, call centres, college campus activists, hundreds of regional election headquarters, social media gurus, data experts, staffers, media and the public. To gain customers, that brand message must be reflected at every touchpoint and resonate with current buyers, prospective buyers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, every employee, shareholders, investors, and the CEO.

 

In the absence of articulating and sharing a compelling brand message, disinterest develops, or even cynicism and mistrust. In politics, this translates into divisiveness, fear, insecurity — and a landslide for the opposition. For a brand, it means that reputation suffers and sales decline.

 

You Are Your Brand

The brand called YOU is a multi-layered lesson we can learn (both good and bad practices) by watching the political stage during an election cycle. Certainly, public opinion can be influenced by the packaging: takeaways like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Donald Trump’s unique hairstyle make an indelible mark, as with any brand.

 

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Meryl Streep as Donald Trump – (@simply_the_best_ms on Instagram)

 

Also, brand marketers can observe how politicians use tone of voice, choice of words, truthfulness, authenticity, facts, listening skills, presentation style, distribution channels, frequency, inspirational metaphors, storytelling, consistency or lack of it, and more to make connections and grow audience. On occasion, they provide examples of what NOT to do.

 

 

 

Everyone involved has a chance to be a brand that is worthy of notice via its most important asset: People. Motivated, enthusiastic, hard working, smiling, clever and talented people make all the difference.

Know Your Brand’s Target Audience

Skills and insight go into knowing and understanding your target audience so you can speak their language, tap into their attitudes and values, and build a simple, strong compelling message that they find irresistible. That magnetism factor is a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types in what we call Purchaser Personas.

In fact it’s one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. You can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer Purchaser Personas which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business.

 

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The mechanisms of polling, precincts and predicting are complicated. We leave that to the experts. Nonetheless, you’ll hear news commentary about politicians of all political persuasions “appealing to their base” and/or “broadening the base.”

 

As in branding, the articulation of mission, values, and promise are essential. Communication with target audiences to understand their likes and dislikes is the first step, however talking to the base over and over doesn’t bring in a single new vote. Brand expansion while maintaining brand loyalty with a core audience is the name of the game in politics as in retailing and other customer verticals.

Brand Messaging Cannot be Overrated

The importance of driving powerful brand impact is what Donald Trump might call “H-U-U-U-G-E” because connecting at a deep emotional level moves people strategically and emotionally. The intensity of the brand message is what makes it stand out; the authenticity of the brand message is what makes it stick.

 

How you communicate with your audience and what message you bring is what keeps audiences loyal and strengthens bonds. As with any branding strategy, placement, delivery, frequency and tone of voice matter. It’s so easy to turn people off with too much noise and overexposure.

 

In America, where the election process rolls out over two years and intensifies as election day draws nearer, this skill must be managed and sustained over weeks and months, just like a brand must do in the broader marketplace.

 

Donald-Trump

Image via donaldjtrump.com

 

Brand Storytelling Matters

It is critical to stay true to your brand’s DNA and not get lost, unglued, or disconnected. We’re conditioned that way. When a child asks you to read their favourite bedtime story, they’re anticipating the same story with the same ending.

Politicians are famous for the brand disaster known as a flip-flop on issues, and it can cost an election or tank sales. Whether in the political arena or in branding, there’s simply no room for inconsistent storytelling. It kills believability and trust.

 

 

The big why behind the brand story challenges us to build stories that promote something for the greater good. With vision, we can create and communicate a loveable brand, or a sustainable brand, or a socially responsible brand, or a caring, charitable brand…just like building a personality that people will vote for.

Sub-Branding Opportunities and Risks

Sometimes brands create sub-brands to serve expansion goals, as in Coors and Coors Light or American Express and the American Express Gold and Platinum Card. The risk is that sub-brands can detract from core brands, using precious time, energy and resources. Secondly, the sub-brand reputation reflects on its parent brand; the overall customer message can become diluted or compromised.

To minimise or eliminate risks, we recommend taking professional branding advice if you’re considering sub-branding to avoid costly mistakes. Planning your brand structures in the form of new or additional related or unrelated products or services, also known as brand architecture, is a critical part of the strategic planning and brand building process. We’ve seen this play out recently on the political world stage. Brand expansion must be taken seriously to protect core brand values. However, adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to John McCain’s 2008 ticket diluted the brand.

 

 

When Hillary Clinton undertook a six-month vice presidential vetting process, the selection was received quite differently to when Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May selected dropout candidate Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in an overnight surprise. The former London mayor’s brand image is reportedly lacking in the required decorum associated with such an important role according to other world leaders.

 

“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” – Boris Johnson [1]

 

 

The Appeal of Disruptor Brands

What did brand managers learn from Bernie Sanders during the 14-month lead up to the Democratic Convention, when the challenger was the Millennials’ poster boy, a lovable white-haired grandfather, small-town Vermont Senator?

  • It takes time and resources — generally a year or so — for any challenger brand to successfully disrupt.

 

  • A clearly and passionately articulated brand vision should be communicated over and over again.

 

  • This candidate’s storytelling remained on message (since his youth), establishing strong authenticity, trust and delivering no surprises.

 

  • Bernie Sanders successfully reached a broad audience through brand activation and personal engagement. While pre-imposed deadlines brought his campaign to an end, the branding strategy was successful.

 

  • Watch what happens when a little bird lands on Bernie Sanders’ podium during a speech. The crowd goes crazy and the candidate turns the moment into an articulation of his vision, “No more wars.”

 

 

 

Consider these questions:

  • Is your brand vision well developed and clearly communicated?

 

  • Have you shared your brand vision with all stakeholders?

 

 

 

  • Is your brand story clearly articulated across multiple customer touchpoints?

 

  • Are you considering sub-branding as a strategy for brand expansion?

 

 

 

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/10909094/Boris-Johnsons-top-50-quotes.html

 

10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to Be a Successful Startup Brand

From Silicon Valley to Silicon Docks and Silicon Roundabout, the buzzwords “entrepreneur”,  “branding” and “startup” get bandied about quite a bit, so let’s take a look at their meanings. Dictionary definitions indicate that an entrepreneur is a person who initiates, organizes and manages a business and assumes its risk. A startup is the vehicle for doing so and branding is what makes your brand highly visible, different, memorable and much loved. Underlying the definition in common use today, is that an entrepreneur has a vision for a new brand, a startup that will disrupt a particular practice.

 

Entrepreneurship is “creative, disruptive innovation,” as notably coined by the early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter.

 

A century later, a newer definition, courtesy of Silicon Valley-based investor Reid Hoffman[1], is: “An entrepreneur is a person who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

scaring-you-shitless Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Branding From the Beginning

Startup brands in our commercial midst are actually nothing new. In fact, branding has been central to the success of innovators from the beginning. For centuries before modern society’s computer chip lent Silicon Valley its moniker, startups have been an essential part of the economy, picking up steam — to coin a phrase — during the Industrial Revolution. In the Information Age, entrepreneurship accounted for 14 percent of all working-age Americans in 2015, some 27 million people, in the USA alone. [2]

Startup Brands Are Still Brands

Startup brands are brands, just like established ones, only less developed. And, a branding professional who has been down this road many times can provide all-important markers for you in trailblazing the way ahead for your new brand. You’ll want to avoid brand mistakes that will likely require a costly do-over in time. Our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme is designed to guide brand owners and managers to build a highly visible, different, memorable and much loved new brand from scratch.

 

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From birth you need a memorable name, a mission statement, a brand promise, a standout brand personality and a strong brand strategy prior to a brand launch. No one will debate that creating a startup brand isn’t hard work. We’re here to help!

 

Whether it’s the first sewing machine, a craft beer, or a new messaging app, being a founder is all-consuming…and always starts small even when you are thinking big.

What Is and Is Not Your Brand

The adage, “Everything is your brand and your brand is everything,”[3] as it appears in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, is true enough. However, until and unless you have your brand’s core values and the building blocks of your brand foundation in place, it is premature to take the next steps.

 

Your logo is not your brand. Your clever new dot.com name is not your brand. Your website is not your brand. Your packaging is not your brand. These are components of your brand to reflect your purpose and value.

Also, your place of business is definitely not your brand. Even a billion dollar brand can start in somebody’s garage…and they certainly have:

  • Disney in 1923
  • Hewlett Packard in 1939
  • Apple in 1976
  • Amazon in 1994
  • Google in 1998

Essentials for Startup Brands and Branding

As an entrepreneur, YOU are the voice and visionary of your brand, you embody your brand and your passion shows. Seasoned Silicon Valley startup pros offer plenty of free advice for today’s entrepreneurs.

One of the key takeaways on perspective comes from Dave McClure[4], the straight-talking co-founder of 500Startups, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator and global investor. Here, McClure is describing the best way to make an elevator pitch for funding — yet the essence of his advice is spot-on for the strategic approach to building the foundation of a startup brand. He counsels:

      

“Here’s the secret: Pitch the problem, not the solution.”

 

“Just tell me the problem FIRST, not the SOLUTION. The reason is, I may not be able to understand what your solution does, but if you connect emotionally with me on what the problem is — and hopefully I also have the problem, or know someone who does — then I’ll give you PERMISSION to tell me more about how you’re going to solve the problem.”

 

Ten Essential Startup Branding Tips

Here we take a look at 10 essential startup branding tips with comments from a dozen or so outstanding innovators and advisors from the Silicon Valley dot.com frontier.

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
  • Lynda co-founder Lynda Weinman
  • Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • Apple founder Steve Jobs
  • Media personality Oprah Winfrey
  • Intuit co-founder Scott D. Cook
  • Venture capitalist Matt Turck
  • High tech investor Ben Horowitz
  • Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
  • SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk
  • Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015 and “Best Start-up Award” at Google’s Dublin HQ, 24-year-old James Foody, now San Francisco-based

 

Tip #1: Building Your Brand

 

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” – Oprah Winfrey at a 2014 Stanford University Graduate School of Business interview.[5]

 

Don’t try this alone. Silicon Valley wisdom counsels that even a genius cannot create a successful startup brand alone. No single person can possess all the required skills and have all the tools in their shed. Consider co-founders and advisors to move your business and branding strategy forward in the right direction. Remember…the “Fifth Beatle” for the Fab Four was their manager.

 

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

 

 

TechCrunch, a San Francisco, Silicon Valley media platform, says mentors are the secret weapons for a successful startup brand.[6] Their study shows that “mentors who had already achieved success in the tech industry were able to help younger tech startups outperform their peers by a factor of three.”

Broadlake, in Dublin, models their whole philosophy on a very hands-on approach as both advisors, mentors and investors who invest their time and capital to help entrepreneurs succeed.

 

“There’s always new challenges and I think with new challenges we gotta switch on, we gotta engage, we gotta work with these teams and try and achieve often for what these ambitious growing companies are looking to do, which is ground breaking stuff.” – Pete Smyth, Broadlake

 

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Image via Broadlake

 

“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.” – Bill Gates

 

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Image via Stanford University

 

 

Tip #2: A Brand is Not a Logo

Brands are not solely visual. Your new brand is about how you make people think and feel about your product or service. The most common misperception out there among startups is from those who think their brand is about their logo and not much else! CEOs, owners, partners, investors and founders should not make this mistake…nor should designers.

 

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

 

Jeff-Bezos-Amazon

Image via Slideshare

A side note: When Marissa Mayer was appointed new CEO of a struggling Yahoo in 2013, a new logo was among the first tasks undertaken by an internal committee. Meantime, email customers were unhappy with their service.

 

Yahoo-Logos-Old-and-New

Image via Naldz Graphics

 

Lesson: When Yahoo skipped the brand audit they ended up with a deep customer disconnect that was never regained. [7]

 

 

The Yahoo backstory to date:

Yahoo-$-History

Image via Twitter

 

Tip #3: Build Brand Trust

As a founder, you are the embodiment of your brand both internally and externally. From the moment you interact with your first core users, trust is critical. Your company may grow, but brand trust is a constant.

 

“Google is a consumer company and our success is directly linked to our users trusting us.” – Susan Wojcicki

 

And when you hire, make sure you hire the right people to personify the brand in its infancy. It is absolutely critical that your brand is represented properly all the time.

 

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Image via Twitter

 

“If someone likes you they will listen to you. If someone trusts you they will do business with you.” – James Foody, Ayda

 

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Image via Ayda

 

 

Tip #4: Identify Brand Need

When Lynda Weinman started teaching web design in 1993, she went in search of a textbook. All the books she found were too technical for beginners. (You can probably see where this story will lead.)

 

“I remember thinking maybe this book doesn’t exist yet. I went home from the bookstore and wrote the book proposal.” – Lynda Weinman

 

It was early days on the internet in 1995 when Lynda then got the idea to move her reference materials online and create a teaching course around them. Two decades later, Weinman had earned the nickname, “Mother of the Internet.”[8]

 

In the spring of 2015, Lynda Weinman sold her company, Lynda.com, to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. The new owner, the world’s premier business-oriented social networking service, was seven years away from its own founding when the brand Lynda.com was created.

 

 

Tip #5: Become a Brand Guru

Once you’ve identified a passion, become an expert in whatever it is. Tell your story well. In the brand’s early days, you need anecdotes, not raw data. Be authentic, be enthusiastic, be clued up and know your stuff. Your brand promise must be frequently voiced, relatable, and completely transparent.

 

“Whether you are interacting with customers, fundraising or recruiting, you are always selling and, and the best salespeople are master storytellers. Craft a compelling and genuine company story that resonates with your audience not just intellectually, but also emotionally.”   – Matt Turck, Venture Capitalist, FirstMark Capital

 

 

 

Tip #6: Determine Brand Positioning

 

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott D. Cook

 

Your core customers are your sounding board — an important audience for a startup. Is your brand positioning clear? Customers want companies to listen to their opinions, so you’ll need feedback to guide you in shaping your brand position in the marketplace. Before you can concern yourself with traction and loyalty, you need to ensure that the brand resonates, fills a need, and has value. Get feedback at every iteration along the way to ensure you’re moving in the right direction for consumer wants and needs. Tweaks will be necessary.

 

“Another one of my favourite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, “Done is better than perfect.” I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.” –  Sheryl Sandberg

 

 

Tip #7: Communicate Your Brand

It can be difficult to properly communicate your startup vision to others. But, it’s critical that you do so effectively.

Keep lines of communication open constantly and force yourself to listen to critics. Learning how to manage people takes work. But if you don’t learn how to communicate, you risk destroying relationships with customers and employees.

 

“As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge.” – Ben Horowitz

entrepreneurship-isn't-a-job

 Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Tip #8: Delight Your Customers

Bill Gates says the one word that best describes the startup mindset is optimism. Self-made multi-billionaire Warren Buffett says “At 85, I tap dance to work every day.”

 

Have fun and the pleasure of doing business with you will show right across your startup brand. Even if your brand is about heavily scientific based inter-planetary colonization, like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, let your good humour shine through.

 

“I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” – Elon Musk

 

 

 

 

 

“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I’ve done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” – Richard Branson

 

 

 

Tip #9: Believe in Your Brand

Perseverance is the name of the game. Believe in your vision. Remember the lesson from a 30-year-old Steve Jobs when he got fired from the company he founded…it’s OK to fail. So be brave, take risks, learn from them, and don’t give up if you love what you do.

 

Passion will keep you going when you get hit in the head with a brick, which will only make success taste even sweeter.

 

Fact: A startup brand will experience setbacks.

“See criticism as free learning that makes you a better entrepreneur. Don’t be constrained or deflated by criticism, but do learn from it.” – James Foody

 

Tip #10: Nurture Your Brand

Once you’re certain your startup brand is is ready for launch, keep your vision focused on the moonshot…the thing that people may not think is possible could be within your reach. Listen to your inner GPS and let it guide you on the ride of your life.

 

“Picking what problem to go and solve is a much bigger and more important challenge than being able to solve the problem.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” – Meg Whitman

 

Ask Yourself…

  1. Are you developing a new brand to launch to market but you’re just not sure where to start to ensure a strong financial return? Our “Personality Profile Performer”™ course is perfect for you.
  2. Have you got an existing brand but it’s just not strong enough to make it to No.1 in the market? Talk to us about how we can guide you to build your brand recognition plan.
  3. Have you underestimated how difficult a startup brand really is? Or, perhaps you’re not dreaming big enough. We can help you with a branding strategy to ensure that you are properly positioned.
  4. Are you struggling with your brand story? Let us help you craft a compelling one in your brand’s own tone of voice.
  5. Does your brand identity need a boost? We can consult with you on everything from font to packaging design.
  6. Have you attempted a startup that missed its mark? We can help you revitalize and relaunch a product or service to get the result you’re looking for.

 

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[1] https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/1213
[2] http://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/us-entrepreneurship-reaches-record-highs.html
[3] https://hbr.org/2011/06/a-logo-is-not-a-brand/
[4] https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemcclure
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DlrqeWrczs
[6] https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/mentors-are-the-secret-weapons-of-successful-startups
[7] http://www.inc.com/cody-steve/yahoo-logo-redesign-marissa-mayer.html
[8] http://bit.ly/2aj9GDW

Brand Equity: How to Measure the Strength and Effectiveness of Your Brand

According to statistics, 88 percent of consumers say quality makes them loyal to a brand, and only 50 percent say price is their primary concern. [1] Also, when people have a negative experience with a brand, 50 percent said they were unlikely to consume content from that brand again. Clearly, this data shows how important it is to ensure your brand is sending the right messages to your customers, and making them want to align with it for the right reasons.

 

 

Branding How Important Is It 600px  

Image via www.business2community.com

 

 

What is a Brand, and Why is Brand Equity So Important?

 

Your brand encompasses your total offering to your customers,[2] from what it stands for, to its personality, the experience it gives your customers, what it promises to deliver consistently, the language, tone of voice and messaging it uses to express itself throughout its communications, the fundamental culture of the organization it represents, its brand collateral and the people who represent it.

 

In short it’s the sum of all its parts from the quality of its offering to its attributes and the emotional meanings associated to it together with all its brand collateral which includes visual identifiers like its logo, website, packaging, printed literature, trade stands, staff uniforms, interior and exteriors site design and signage, vehicle livery, video content and so forth.  All of these elements collectively are what make up your brand when they all consistently and congruently engage your primary audience in a way which is relevant to them, yet are distinctive, different and memorable.

 

Brand equity is then derived from the overall perception of your brand, the way customers perceive your total brand offering, products or services, rather than the just the isolated features and benefits of the offerings themselves. When customers have a favorable brand perception with a consistently good experience, it’s far more likely they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and recommend it to others. In order to achieve strong brand equity, your brand needs to be unforgettable to your customers — it must resonate both with their hearts and their minds.

   

However, strong brand equity has more advantages than just customer loyalty: [3]

 

  • It enables you to form stronger ongoing relationships and negotiating power with vendors
  • Positive brand equity supports long-term company growth e.g. expansion into new markets, product extensions etc.
  • Strong brand equity could partially shield you if you hit a bump in the road e.g. reputational ramifications related to something unusual such as defective product or atypical manufacturing delay — assuming you handle the situation appropriately
  • Fundamentally customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value

 

 

Although brand equity may seem intangible, it has real dollar, euro, or pound value. Brand equity can be tracked and measured using a combination of specialist research and specific algorithms applied on a comparative annual basis.

  

Measuring brand equity accurately is a niche expertise, with a number of companies specializing in this particular field. Interbrand is one of those companies and they annually track the brand equity value of companies and brands from year to year. By way of example, in 2014 the brand equity of credit card company American Express was $19.5 billion. That figure is impressive in itself, but it’s even more striking to note the brand’s equity value had grown 11 percent from the previous year. [4]

 

 

Evaluating Your Brand Equity: Auditing its Current State and Identifying Weaknesses

 

The first step in analyzing your brand equity is to get a reading of customer perceptions. It’s also important to research employee perceptions for comparative alignment. If there are underlying problems with a company’s brand culture there are also likely to be underperformance issues coupled with incongruent communications that customers will pick up on — all of which means they will be less likely to embrace your brand, and may even doubt its authenticity, which in turn causes a lack of trust.

 

A brand audit health check is a very useful and practical way to gauge how your primary audience and staff feel about your brand. It can also enable you to identify weaknesses that might not have been noticed previously. Once you identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to convert them into strengths, or at least minimize the aspects of those weaknesses that make your brand less effective when pitched against your competitors. A brand audit health check also enables you to uncover and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.

 

 

Make Your Brand Stronger using Keller’s Brand Equity Principles

 

When working with our clients to help them develop stronger brand equity, we also advocate principals from Keller’s Brand Equity Model, also known as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. It suggests before you’re able to strengthen brand equity, you must first shape how customers think and feel about the brand. [5]

 

The model is a pyramid shape, with brand identity at the bottom. That section represents the key characteristics and personality of the brand. It’s important customers recognize those attributes correctly, and believe they are different from what competitors offer.  

 

The next level of the pyramid relates to brand meaning. In other words, what does your brand stand for, and how well does it meet customers’ needs, both in terms of performance, and on social and psychological levels? Think about the ways you want customers to experience your brand, and use those factors to create your brand personality and key characteristics.

 

Brand response represents the third tier of the pyramid. Credibility, actual and perceived quality, and comparisons with competing products all help shape brand response. Your goal is to make your brand evoke direct feelings and innate emotions.

 

The top level of the pyramid is brand resonance. When customers actively engage with your brand even when not purchasing it, that demonstrates brand resonance, as does a desire to be associated with a “community” of fellow purchasers. Customers also show brand resonance through behavioral loyalty, such as repeat purchases.

 

 

Measuring Brand Equity with the Six-Stage Brand Development Model

 

The six-stage brand development model is a diagnostic tool that combines proven metrics and a framework to guide brand equity strategies. Below, you’ll find the different characteristics a brand should have [6], plus how to make improvements if necessary.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Recognizable: If your brand lacks recognition in the marketplace it’s crucial to develop your brand strategy and enaction it tactically with a fully intergrated branding plan in order to raise its profile. Brand recognition increases through repeated exposure.

 

  • The Brand Must Be Memorable: The brand should be among the first called to mind when customers decide what to purchase. If that’s not happening, educate your target market about what your brand offers and why it’s unique – while remembering to enage your aduience at both emotional and rational levels.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Viewed Favourably: As we often remind our clients, it’s not enough for people to be aware of a brand. The target audience must also believe the brand is able to meet their needs with trust and respect for what the brand represents.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Distinctive: When customers are ready to buy an item (product or service), they must feel compelled to do so because they think the product offers a unique brand promise unlike what any competitors can provide. Brand perception occurs at both functional and emotional levels, so the goal is to position your brand effectively by stressing attributes that motivate purchases.

  

  • The Brand Must Be Preferred: Ideally, customers will prefer your brand over all others, and be willing to purchase it repeatedly. If preference for your brand is low, you’ll need to evaluate why through a brand audit and then implement changes based on the analysis and findings made. Fundamentally you must build brand trust if you want to engender long term brand loyalty.

 

  • Your Market Must Be Satisfied with the Brand: Ideally, customers will be so happy with what your brand offers they aren’t just personally content, but eager to recommend your brand to friends — become brand champions. If that isn’t currently happening, you may need to evaluate where the discontent lies and work on improving your product or service in terms of both percieved and actual quality.

 

 

Kellers Brand Equity Model 418px 

Image via www.mindtools.com

 

 

Let’s briefly examine three case studies where improving brand equity was the central goal:

 

 

Starbucks Logo Evolution 600px 

Image via www.starbucks.com

 

 

Starbucks

Starbucks has become a global brand worth $10 billion. In 2011, the brand went through a brand identity expansion to boost brand equity. A recognizable green mermaid traditionally decorated bags of the brand’s trademark coffees.

 

 

 

 

 

However, Starbucks wanted to expand its future vision by also using its identity more broadly on other products besides coffee, and associate it with offerings like teas and lemonades. The transition to use the mermaid logo more broadly was lauded by industry experts [7], with some believing strongly the broader use of the logo would trigger new growth and bolster recognition, without compromising acquired brand equity.

  

 

Veritas Vineyard 

Image via www.veritaswines.com

 

 

Veritas Winery

Established in 2002 as a family-run business, Veritas Wineries was one of the first businesses of its kind in Virginia. The company realized its history and provenance helped establish its brand equity and wanted to implement some brand enhancements without compromising its valuable legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

The company commissioned a full brand audit, which resulted in small but meaningful changes [8] to the brand’s identity and made the overall brand more consistent to promote prolonged marketplace success. These alterations have enabled the brand to maintain its dominance, despite increasing competition.

  

 

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola used “Open Happiness,” as a global campaign, to appeal to its consumers’ desire to feel optimistic and be comforted despite a weak economy. At the time, it was the brand’s first new campaign in three years. Advertising spots ran in both print and television media.

 

Although previous campaigns won awards, some analysts felt they required localized tweaking to resonate with culturally different audiences in different parts of the world. [9] The intention was that “Open Happiness” would have mass worldwide appeal. In the end, that goal was achieved, and the campaign achieved widespread industry praise for its ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, brand equity is measured one brilliant customer experience at a time. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand tone, understand how to relate to your target audience in a way that matters most to them, while simultaneously meeting their needs. Building and maintaining brand equity is an ongoing process, remember successful brand building is as much about all the small things you do consistently well coupled with the bigger campaigns and new initiatives.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand equity can make the difference in how customers experience your brand, and whether they want to align themselves with it.

 

  • Brand equity is derived from customer perceptions. Strong brand equity increases the likelihood customers recommend your brand to others.

 

  • A brand audit can indicate how customers perceive your brand, and enable you to identify weaknesses.

 

  • Brand equity is tied to how customers both think and feel.

 

  • Brands should be preferred, distinctive, favorably viewed, recognizable and memorable if strong brand equity is to be achieved.

   

 

Questions to consider:

 

  • What actions or brand strategies could be implemented to increase customer engagement with your brand?

 

  • What would help improve the actual and perceived quality of your brand?

 

  • Have you taken steps to become informed and evaluate your brand’s weaknesses compared to competitors?

 

  • Do you feel your brand adequately conveys why and how it meets your customer needs?

 

  • Does your brand connect with people globally, and is that necessary for its brand equity?

 

 

You might also like:

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

   

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

  

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

 

[1] Eric Hammis, http://www.business2community.com, “How Important is Brand Identity?”, April 2015.

[2] Lois Geller, http://www.forbes.com, “Why a Brand Matters”, May 2012

[3] John Fatteross, http://www.thehartford.com, ” Advantages of Strong Brand Equity”

[4] Jennifer Connelly, htttp://www.entrepreneur.com, “‘Brand Equity’ is an Intangible That’s Worth Real Money”

[5] https://www.mindtools.com/, “Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand”

[6] http://rockresearch.com/a-brand-development-model-how-to-define-and-measure-brand-equity/, “A Brand Development Model: How to Define and Measure Brand Equality,” December 2013

[7] Carl Johnson, http://www.adage.com, “Why Starbucks Logo Change Doesn’t Equate to Brand Change,” January 2011

[8] http://www.designbywatermark, “What is a Brand Refresh?”

[9] Betsy McKay and Suzanne Vranica, http://www.wsj.com, “Coca-Cola to Uncap ‘Open Happiness’ Campaign” January 2009

 

 

What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

When the Apple Corporation gave its annual report in 2015, it had a whopping $178 billion in cash, or enough to buy the Ford, Tesla, and General Motors car companies and have more than $41 billion left over. [1] Such is the power and worth of a so-called cult lifestyle brand. Here, we’ll look at what makes up a cult brand, and the characteristics that set the stage for your brand to obtain that coveted status.

 

 

What is a Cult Brand, and Why is it Smart to Build One?

  

A cult brand has worked so hard to build a following, it’s in a class of its own. Loyal customers feel there is no substitute for the benefits ‘their’ cult brand offers, and they’re often willing to go to great lengths to get access to those much sought after respective products or service.  Cult brands anticipate the tangible and spiritual needs of their customers and work to fill them on multiple levels. [2]

  

They’re usually associated with social benefits, too [3]. For example, Fender guitars are arguably not the most technically advanced instruments, but they nevertheless enjoy a cult following. Once people buy a guitar, they feel they’ve become part of a social club of other content like-minded customers, including some superstar players.

  

Once you’ve built a strong cult brand it will continue to inspire brand loyalty provided you both carefully nurture it and your loyal customers. That loyalty is likely to persist even if you charge a premium or intentionally produce products or services in limited quantities with restricted access.

  

Furthermore, in the event an untimely problem arises that momentarily blemishes the brand, its cult status will often be enough to carry it through those temporary low points.  Brands with cult-like status tend to engender staunch customers willing to buy the brand again despite mishaps.

  

 

Characteristics of a Cult Lifestyle Brand

 

Let’s take a deeper look and examine key characteristics that help some brands stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, seemingly immune to the many struggles causing competitors to flounder:

 

  • Cult Brands Have Recognizable Strong Personality Traits: Although brands don’t necessarily have all the attributes humans do, the best share many qualities with humans. They are like humanized entities. You may resonate with one of your most beloved brands because it appears to exhibit sympathy, honesty, integrity and motivation, among other emotionally engaging human-like traits, qualities and values that are potentially important to you.

 

  • Cult Brands Are Relatable: When a cult brand is relatable, it’s able to resonate with its target audience by encapsulating familiarities within everyday lives. A brand may be positioned so it’s optimally relatable via its packaging, customer service, employees, customer journey, brand collateral and even purchase receipts.

 

  • Cult Brands Encompass Broad Ideals: Some brands reach cult status because they successfully convey an ideal or lifestyle its purchasers aspire to and want to be part of. Maybe the brand’s associated with warm hospitality, opulent luxury, a rugged, adventuresome lifestyle or a hunger for high-tech items that regularly challenge what we think is possible. [4] By regularly purchasing items or services that represent what they aspire to having, buyers inch ever closer to their ultimate goals. Its what the beloved cult brand ‘stands for’ that its target audience identify, with and relate to as part of their own personal identity.

 

  • Cult Brands Have Their Own Catchy Brand Language and Buzzwords: At Walt Disney World, people who work there aren’t called employees, but “cast members.” Furthermore, the crew that designs rides is staffed by “imagineers.”

 

Also, don’t walk into an Apple Store and expect to get your MP3 player checked at the technical support desk. Instead, stroll back to the Genius Bar where a specialist bearing the title of “genius” will examine your iPhone. 

 

The distinctive language used by cult brands is not just an accidental cutesy extra. It’s quite deliberate and strategically developed as part of building the brand’s profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. When people learn the lingo or brand language, they’ve become members of an exclusive club, the in-crowd, and are thereby more closely connected to one another and those they perceive to matter most in their world. [5]

 

 

4 Top Tips for Creating a Cult Brand

 

Now that you’re more familiar with some aspects of brands that have reached cult status, let’s explore actionable tips that could help your own brand achieve that apparently insurmountable feat. [6]

 

1. Tell a Strong Brand Story

The human brain responds instinctively to stories. We’ve shared stories since we lived in caves and learnt them as children on our parents’ knees. It’s how we make sense of the world. Your brand should develop and tell an engaging, memorable tale. When we’re working with our clients to create and develop memorable brand stories we use our Story Selling System™. Consider that most cult brands are able to successfully communicate which problems their products solve. Ideally, your story should not only be authentic and emotionally compelling, but prove how your product fills a demonstrated need.

 

 

2. Excel at Doing or Giving Something People Greatly Value

Cult brands are often excellent at providing a service or benefit to a far superior degree when compared to their competitors, and brands in other unrelated sectors for that matter. This is one of the reasons why it’s so crucial to understand what other brands in your industry are doing, and evaluate how you can reach beyond that point in a meaningful and feasible way. A brand audit is a very effective tool for uncovering this often hidden information. Your brand needs to be creating a customer experience in at least one very unique way that’s vastly superior to your nearest contenders.

 

 

3. Truly Value Your Customers

Regardless of how great whatever you’re offering is, your brand is highly unlikely to reach cult status if you consistently give customers the cold shoulder. Earlier, we talked about how people who follow cult brands may be more forgiving and willing to offer second chances. However, that’ll only happen if you have stellar customer service practices that make your customers feel like they’re genuinely worth your time and much appreciated for their business.

 

Besides just offering great service, try to include customers in your creative or product or service development process, even if its just to get feedback from them. People love feeling like they’re part of something important and that their opinion matters. If you make it clear their thoughts matter, they’re more likely to be loyal for life.

 

 

4. Give the Impression of Scarcity

Although this tip can backfire in some markets, profits and consumer interest levels can grow when customers feel the product you’re offering is not easy to acquire. When buyers believe an item is in limited supply, they’re often more likely to try harder to get it.

 

   Pixabay People Waiting 600px

 

  

Now, let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have used various brand strategies to build their cult brands and make them thrive very profitably.

 

 

Case Study: SoulCycle

 

SoulCycle is a brand of indoor cycling classes that’s beloved by celebrities, and some might say, a little overpriced. Class prices begin at $32 for 45 minutes of sweaty cycling. Yet, SoulCycle’s devotees don’t mind.

 

   Soul Cycle Home Page2 600px

Image via www.soul-cycle.com

 

 

Many of them cycle while wearing diamonds and Rolex watches. Being around people who are outfitted in the same way likely engenders feelings of even greater exclusivity.

  

 

  

  

  

Furthermore, certain superstar trainers have very small exclusive class sizes, leading fitness fans to scramble in hopes of landing an open slot, or getting lucky when someone doesn’t show up. Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga are just a few VIPs singing SoulCycle’s praises, with Lady Gaga even bringing custom-made SoulCycle bikes on a tour. [7]

  

     Soul Cycle 600px

Image via www.popsugar.com

 

 

Case Study: J. Crew

 

Founded in 1983, J. Crew is an American clothing brand that has impressively been able to enjoy a long-term cult status, while other hopeful brands have faltered. Some analysts say the success is largely due to the brand’s fearless and forward-thinking president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. [8]

 

       Style Profile Jenna Lyons 600px

Image via www.letsrestycle.com and www.sohautestyle.com

 

 

She took the helm in 2008 and began running with the bold strategy that the brand should no longer be dictated by corporate strategies. Instead, J. Crew would not associate with a product unless its team members truly embraced it.

  

 

 

  

 

Furthermore, Lyons unified the company’s creative processes and gave employees more freedom to take risks. Ideas that don’t work well are quickly disposed of, leaving some to feel J. Crew is constantly in flux. However, rising profits and raving fans indicate the changes have resonated. Some of the brand’s YouTube videos have more than a million views.

 

 

Case Study: Vij’s and Rangoli

 

These two Canadian restaurants are run by a husband and wife team and have become some of the hottest eating establishments in Vancouver. A “No Reservation Rule” means people sometimes have to act fast to enjoy this beloved cuisine.  

    

   Vikram Vij 600px

Image via www.macleans.ca

  

  

Besides the tasty fare they offer, perhaps one of the reasons why the restaurants have such loyal followings is because their very creations represent an entrepreneurial dream many fantasize about.

 

 

  

 

  

The restaurants were funded by a small loan from a family member, plus personal savings. One member of the team is Vikram Vij, who’s originally from India. He was able to use talent, determination and dedication to help the restaurants prosper.[9] Vij and his wife Meeru have even written two acclaimed books.

   

      Vijs Indian Cookbooks 600px

Image via www.vijs.ca

   

   

Clearly, there’s not a single path that leads an emerging brand to cult brand status. However, a combination of key factors, such as cultivating desirable brand characteristics, a skilled team with a visionary leader, unwavering focus with a clear strategic brand vision and an exclusivity or scarcity strategy can result in impressive outcomes.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Cult brands must meet a need or solve a problem in at least one way that’s significantly superior to competitors

 

 

  • Cult brands are inspiring, yet relatable

 

  • People are often more forgiving of cult brands

 

 

  • Cult brands often encompass desirable lifestyles

 

 

 

Questions to Consider

 

  • Can you identify one or more desirable personality traits your brand possesses that may help it reach cult status?

 

  • What positive associations or lifestyles relate to your brand?

 

  • Can you think of a situation where it may be detrimental or inappropriate to use a scarcity strategy?

 

  • Which problems does your brand solve for consumers?

 

  • In what ways do you think your brand makes others feel inspired?

 

 

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

 

• Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

 

 

[1] Sam Colt, uk.businessnsider.com, “15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Apple’s Latest Quarter,” January 2015.

[2] http://www.cultbranding.com, “Cult Brand Defined.”

[3] Antonio Marazza, http://www.forbes.com, “A Survival Guide for Symbolic and Lifestyle Brands,” October 2013.

[4] Jessica Farris, http://www.printmag.com, “Branding Lifestyles: What Does Your Brand Represent?” September 2014.

[5] Frank Cowell, “http://www.elevatoragency.com, “Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language”

[6] Dave Llorens, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, “8 Cult Lessons That Will Help You Build Your Brand,” December 2013.

[7] Vanessa Grigoriadis, http://www.vanityfair.com, “Riding High,” August 2012.

[8] Danielle Sacks, http://www.fastcompany.com, “How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand,” April 2013.

[9] smallbusinessbc.ca, “Meet Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon, Vij’s Restaurant, My Shanti, Rangoli and Vij’s At Home”

  

  

Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]

 

Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.

 

A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

 

In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.

  

  

Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity

 

1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.

   

  

2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.

 

To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.

  

  

 

  

  

Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.

  

There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   

 

A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  

 

 

3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 

 

To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.

 

For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.

 

 

Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com

 

  

However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.

  

  

  

 

  

By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.

 

 

4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.

  

  

 

  

  

Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.

  

By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.

 

 

 

  

There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      

 

 

5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]

   

Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com

 

  

The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.

  

  

Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

  

  

You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  

 

 

6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.

  

If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  

 

A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.

 

 

7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.

 

This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors

 

Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]

  

There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 

 

 

8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.

   

   

   

 

  

Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.

  

  

You might also like:

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

  

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever

  

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

  

  

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?

  

• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?

 

• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?

 

• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?

 

• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?

  

  

[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers’ Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers’ Trust In ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”

Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

Got a brand? Just like a person, your brand has a reputation to establish and uphold. The identity of your brand, of course, begins with its name. Your product or service is your brand’s body and mind, and you must use all five senses to reach out in appealing ways to old and new friends (customers). Your brand lives, breathes and grows via its brand personality, which has simply got to be consistently appealing, authentic and dependable.

  

  

 

  

 

That’s all wrapped up in what brand marketers refer to as a brand’s tone of voice. It reveals a style reflected across everything your brand says and does online and offline, both written and visual.

 

  

Leverage Your ROI

 

Smaller businesses can punch above their weight without a string of zeroes in the budget when they get their branding basics right. Why? Because brand loyalty, sharing, peer recommendations, transparent feedback and brand ambassadorship are stronger than ever in the digital age. We’re passionate about working with brands every day, large and small, to make this happen, so they can leverage their ROI to the maximum.

  

 

Google For Business 

Image via www.google.com

 

 

See and Be Seen Where Your Brand Belongs

 

Even the most popular person can’t be — and shouldn’t try to be — everywhere at once. Decide where you want to be seen and heard depending upon who your customers are and where the circles of your brands’ look-alike audiences (as Facebook Ads have named this tool) are found. That’s why you don’t go to a convention for lovers of African violets to network with extreme adventure travelers and vice versa. Nor would anyone switch on a television shopping channel to buy heirloom Tiffany & Co. gems.

 

  

Online and On Brand

  

Apply traditional channel and networking logic to online platforms to determine where you belong. An anti-aging cream on Snapchat represents wasted effort in the same way that a traditional print advertisement for wrinkle cream would be absurd in the pages of Seventeen magazine. If you need some brand strategy support our team can steer you through your social media distribution decisions, specific to your brand, to get the most from your investment.

  

To see the big picture, AdWeek[1] has published infographics providing some insights about the expected growth in online audiences of 180 million by platform and age group worldwide through the end of 2016. We can take your brand on a deeper dive into your brand’s affinity groups and demographics to pin down your best placement.

 

 

Who's Really Using Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Instagram In 2015 

 Image via www.adweek.com

  

 

Lights On, Always Open for Business

 

Since your consumers (all consumers!) are online, let’s go there first to discuss building your brand’s online personality in sync with your offline one. Importantly, they require fine-tuned alignment.

 

The days of turning out the lights and locking up the shop for the night are over, as you’re open for business 24/7 online. In the hearts and minds of your primary audience, the digital brand is indistinguishable from the bricks and mortar brand. Your clients don’t separate the online and offline personality of your brand, and you shouldn’t either. 

 

 

Claim Your Free Real Estate

 

1. Claim your free real estate from these main social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. Google+ and Google Places for Business are must-dos for everyone wanting to be found 24/7 by customers online. You can easily edit your contact information, business description, hours, website URL and photos. Not being on social media at all is not an option; you cannot manage your brand reputation if you’re invisible.

 

2. Add to your brand’s online presence by completing your business profile on free aggregate platforms pertaining to your business sector, such as TripAdvisor for travel and hospitality providers or Realtor.com for real estate. Your competitors are doing likewise.

  

3. Make sure your website is 100 percent mobile responsive; this is no longer optional. From April 2015, Google’s algorithms began penalizing search results for websites that don’t provide the best user experience on mobile devices.

  

According to Search Engine Watch[2], Google says that “near me” mobile searches have grown 34 times over since 2011. With 73 percent of the world’s population using mobile phones, we can be certain that mobile wallets are poised for exponential growth. In other words, brands that don’t optimize their online presence by paying attention to their appearance and brand tone of voice are leaving heaps of money on the table.

 

4. Develop the right tone of voice for your brand with brand profiling, using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ and use it consistently across all content, all visuals and all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets and mobiles for all operating systems). You need to think of your brand as a humanized entity with a richly developed brand personality with key character attributes much like a real person e.g. likeable, friendly, sincere and genuine. Corporate-speak really doesn’t fly.

 

5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There’s no point in signing onto a social media platform other than to drive business to your website or to your door. So, once you create your online personality, brand reputation management has only just begun. As the old scouting song goes, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

 

Answer comments and questions promptly and sincerely. An honest response to a negative review sets you up for an even better review.[3] Remember, online you are speaking to two audiences — the person who make the comment and the rest of the world! Brand authenticity and honesty pays!

  

  

 

  

  

  

Visuals Are Vital

 

6. Upload original quality photos and videos. You simply cannot have too many. Visually appealing content needs the same attention as bricks and mortar appearances such as clean shop windows and display shelves free of dust.

 

The impact of visual is enormous. According to Social Media Today[4], 63 percent of social media is made up of images and 50 percent of users have shared online images and videos. On Instagram and Pinterest, you’ll inspire users and gain followers by creating hashtags and boards, translating in to more free real estate for your brand.

  

   Content With Relevant Images Gets 94  More Views

Image via www.socialmediatoday.com

 

  

Twitter indicates[5] that content with a relevant photo gets 313 percent higher engagement, good news for small and medium-sized businesses. Make sure your brand personality and brand tone of voice is consistently expressed through your chosen images as well. Are you a fashion shop showing dresses, a utility provider showing friendly staff, an animal shelter featuring pets for adoption? Have fun with who you are to drive engagement.

 

  

Get it Right From the Start

  

It cannot be over-emphasized that getting your brand tone of voice right for your online brand personality is essential. Once you’ve taken control of that voice, it’s all yours for as long as it works effectively. We can help you with everything from developing your brand personality through brand profiling, or auditing your brand to give it a health check to creating your brand name, to re-branding (if and when that becomes necessary) and developing your brand strategy. 

 

 

New and Improved Offline

  

7. Protect your brand’s reputation. One of the 10 commandments of effective leadership applies directly to brand reputation management, “Thou Shalt Not Over-Promise and Under-Deliver.”

 

Meeting and exceeding expectations is classic business strategy and the risks associated with getting it wrong fill volumes of business manuals. It comes straight back to the pillars of reputation management: authenticity and dependability. Your successful business has likely been handling this properly all along, or you wouldn’t be where you are today. However it’s always a good time to dust off and revitalize through refreshing, reminding, re-enthusing and re-training your staff — they are your brand ambassdors and consequently a really important part of your brand strategy.

  

8. Authenticity is everything…and the moment it’s lost, you’re damaged goods. Your strong and clear voice is required wherever your brand touches, in both your digital presence and offline, too. Always consider as a minimum the four ‘Ps’ of Marketing 101: Product, Promotion, Place, Price — which lead the way on the path to Profit.

 

9. Listening is good, conversation is even better. Wow, WOMMA! The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is a real thing…it has even has its own annual conference. Of course, before the internet, one-by-one sharing via word of mouth was the prevalent means of unpaid advertising. And it still works, more powerfully than ever. We can help you engage with customers in more dialogues for wider and deeper reach, always maintaining the critical overlay of brand authenticity.

 

10. Satisfy every customer from entry to exit. Imagine your brand once again as a real personality and recall these two tenets, “First impressions count” and “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Both statements are true, but there’s more. We believe that the entire customer experience is integral to perceptions about your brand, from the moment your client walks in or first engages with your brand, until they depart, and your follow up in-between and later on. Your core brand values and what your brand stands for must shine through consistently in all your brand communications be they online or offline. Own it and win.

  

   

   

   

You may also like:

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

   

• Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

  

  

Feel free to get in touch and let us know how you’d like us to help you with building your brand and establish a strong brand reputation online and offline:

T: +353 1 8322724

E: [email protected]

 

 

• Is your current brand personality and tone of voice hitting all the right notes for your brand? Is it truly reflective of your core brand values and what your brand stands for?

 

• Do you know how to craft an authentic, humanized brand voice through brand profiling to get people raving about your brand to all of their friends?

 

• Has your brand strategically planned for the changing social media landscape? Are you thinking differently or are you winging it with occasional assistance from an intern?

 

• Is your brand in the right places at the right times and talking to the right people to realize the most bang for your buck?

 

• Do you know if you are getting more than your fair market share, and if not, what to do about it?

 

• How well do you know your customers? Have you developed your buyer personas? Have you organized channels for customer feedback for continual improvement?

  

  

 

 

  

[1] AdWeek, Jan. 12, 2015 http://bit.ly/1SRJM4D

[2] John Schepke, Search Engine Watch, June 25, 2015  http://bit.ly/1Stzlt1

[3] eTourism Summit interview with Andrew Wiens, TripAdvisor, Nov. 20, 2014 http://bit.ly/1KIsWU3

[4] David Hall, Social Media Today, April 6, 2015 http://bit.ly/1fTDxk7

[5] Jane Stecyk, TweetTip, Small Business Content Team, January 28, 2015 http://bit.ly/1JEq0ZL