As a small business owner these days, you probably understand the importance of using branding strategies and how they can make a huge difference in the way that customers perceive and respond to what you have to offer. Many people mistakenly believe that branding is simply keeping a uniform name and appearance across all of your business’ marketing materials. However, those who have a keen understanding of how marketing works, know that developing effective branding strategies are more about psychology and emotion rather than mere aesthetics. A company’s core philosophy informs their style of communication and, subsequently, their communication style and core messaging are what resonate with customers.
Of course, we know that core messaging is determined by having an intimate knowledge of your customers’ lifestyle, wants and needs. It’s no easy feat to gain enough trust with your customers so that they’re willing to share detailed information about their lives for marketing purposes. It takes strong relationship building skills to create that kind of trust and some companies and individuals seem to have an uncanny knack for it. Here’s a list of branding ideas executed by various marketing thought leaders who are master “brand builders.” These are approaches that make connecting with customers and prospects seem effortless and fun. Read on for inspiration to help you step up your branding game and create branding strategies that actually work.
Get People Talking
Sometimes, gaining people’s trust requires taking a risk. Business Insider highlighted a diverse group of businesses that took a chance on departing from “traditional” ad campaigns and customer service rules. It involved quite a few “out-of-the-box” ideas that could have fallen flat, or worse, receives backlash — but in most cases, the opposite actually happened. Customers loved these unconventional takes on advertising and a lot of positive buzz (and goodwill) was created for the businesses.
Develop a Company Philosophy
Most people have had the experience of going into a retail store and being greeted by one of the employees. “Hello!,” “May I help You?,” or “Welcome to XYZ store,” are all common greetings from salespeople and cashiers. However, the greetings that stand out the most are the ones that are exactly the same every time, and not just in words but in attitude and purpose. For example, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel employs the use of what they call “Gold Standard Service.” There are 3 specific steps of service that employees are asked to follow when dealing with guests and there is a company philosophy that encourages and explains exactly why employees must use the steps of service. Creating such a specific and cohesive company culture creates a level of camaraderie and professionalism that inevitably becomes something that customers expect and appreciate from your company.
The idea of flexibility may seem to be contrary to the advice of staying consistent when building your branding strategies. Although the consistency of message is important, it’s also essential to recognize when you message may need a little bit of an update in order to keep in step with the times. When the top brass at Old Spice realized they had become known as the “stodgy” brand of men’s cologne that only dads and grandfathers wore, they teamed up with the Wieden & Kennedy advertising firm to create a whole fresh new image. That smart move helped Old Spice to reinvigorate their image and become one most popular brands of cologne for men of all ages.
Don’t Rely on Branding Strategies that are Merely Gimmicks
Let’s face it, creating a strong, identifiable brand is hard work. You may be tempted to simply “copy and paste” someone else’s successful branding strategy, but in the end, if you’re not doing the legwork of identifying your purpose, building relationships with your customers and creating consistent messaging among your employees and advertising, then your branding efforts probably aren't going to yield the type of results you're looking for. The bottom line is that creating great branding strategies takes time, reflection and yes, a lot of effort. The customer loyalty and brand awareness payoff for that genuine, “sleeves rolled up” kind of approach, however, is worth all the time and energy you devote toward the endeavor.
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