Branding pays dividends month after month and year after year.
But before we dive into that, do you think you have positioned your brand to sustain market changes and to remain in the hearts and minds of your customers?
That of course is a loaded question, because let’s face it, if your business and brand is doing well today, then what do you really have to worry about tomorrow?
The honest answer… Everything…
“Danger lurks for brands that become focused solely on making a quick dollar.”
Sure, the apples may be right for the picking now, but like anything else, it’s only because the apples are in season. Every business is susceptible to changes in the marketplace, and focusing solely on making money now is the short-term play, and a risky move at best.
The long-term play for business growth and sustainability falls with your brand and your continued brand awareness and positioning activities. The truth is, success will always create a false sense of security, and over time creates an unrealistic view of the marketplace. This often leaves businesses with little to no urgency or desire to correct their course in maintaining relevancy within their respective industry.
Short-Term Play: Mining for oil. Eventually you will run out of oil in that location and will need to find another location to create a new income stream.
Long-Term Play: Building a renewable energy source and allowing your brand to do all of the heavy lifting for decades to come.
That’s not me…
If for a second you thought “that’s not us” or “that’s not my business,” I would strongly urge you to reflect on your current branding initiatives and ask whether or not you are falling into the brand complacency trap.
The brand complacency trap is where brands continue to do the same thing over and over again until it becomes the norm. Endless advertising messages, brand extensions, and messages that do not encompass the business’ overall value or purpose. When brands begin to enter this phase many tend to miss new opportunities or competitive threats.
The Competition Is Fierce
If Sears and Kodak can go under, then so can you. If Wal-Mart has been having to adapt due to its newest adversaries, Amazon and E-bay, then one-day your business may have to square off with the new guys on the block.
Here are a few more examples if you don’t believe it can happen to you and your industry:
Realtors vs. Purple Bricks
Almost every retail company vs. Amazon
Renewable Energy Companies vs. Fossil Fuel Companies
Lyft and Uber vs. Public Transportation and Taxi’s
Blockbuster vs. Netflix
Gillette vs. Dollar Shave Club
Hotels vs. Airbnb
Give or take, within the last 40 years, we use to have a limited amount to choose from regardless of the product, service or brand. Fast forward to today, where we live in a fast-paced world filled with what seems to be an endless amount of choices and possibilities. To top it all off, those products, services, and brands in the market place today are being shouted from every rooftop, sidewalk, or device humanly imaginable.
So, what changed?
Everyone with a dream, passion and persistence decided “why not me?” and jumped into the market place demanding a piece of the pie. And so, what was once a monopoly has now become an over saturated market with a ton of noise to cut through. In today’s world, brands are challenged with having to rise above all the noise of their competitors and proving their worth to consumers.
Consumers form their first impression of your business in 10 seconds. That also means you have roughly 10 seconds to capture your desired customers attention, while most consumers on any given day are bombarded with 3,000 messages and promotions. Once your brand has caught your customers attention you need to immediately prove that you can and will deliver exactly what they are after and what you are claiming to be able to do for them. Why must you be able to prove that you can do what you say you can? Because many businesses talk the talk but cannot walk the walk.
Every brand says “We care about our customers…” but then turns around and provides a poor or minimal customer service experience.
So how exactly do you manage to secure your place as the go-to brand in the minds of customers?
By continuously focusing on your brand positioning initiatives.
Brand positioning is defined as the territory you occupy in your customers’ mind relative to your competitors and whether those customers believe you’re the best option to meet their needs.
How can you and/or your company address your prospective customers’ desired outcomes in a way that no one else can?
By realising that fancy features will only get you so far and that to close the deal, you need airtight benefits and a reason for your customers to believe you.
At a simplistic level, customers have pain-points, and they’re looking to make sizable gains by purchasing from you.
Here are 5 questions your consumers are looking to you for answers.
Question #1: Why should I choose you?
Question #2: What makes you so special when there’s 50 more of you within a 20 block radius?
Question #3: Why should I care about you?
Question #4: If you’re the best option, how are you proving it? What happens if you don’t do what you say you will?
Question #5Have any of my questions/concerns/problems been addressed or solved? Did they solve any of my pain-points upfront by providing real value?
How To Up Your Branding Game
1. Get on social media immediately – Follow a strategic and well thought-out social media plan that provides entertaining, valuable, and informative content designed around your business’ purpose, products and services. Not to mention, social media platforms actually help you boost your online credibility and search engine optimization activities on Google.
2. Have an updated website – Many business websites look like they were designed 5-10 years ago. Without an up-to-date website your business may struggle to earn the trust of potential customers. Remember that most people begin their research into a business on Google, which will then lead them to your website and social media presence.
3. Make sure your brand is clear across all platforms – When people move from your website, to your social media channels, to your physical location, your brand should be seamless. Potential customers should not have to guess whether or not they are in the right place.
4. Remain consistent with your brand messaging – Remaining consistent with your brand’s messages is crucial to your success. It is extremely important to set the standards for your brand (quality, design, messaging). You may also want to take note of the tone of voice and personality your business is using to communicate with its customers.
Stats: It takes 5-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand, while taking into account that 60% of millennials in the US expect a consistent brand experience across all platforms (online/offline).
5. Humanize your brand – People need to feel like they are communicating with a person. As consumers have become more aware of what they are buying and from who, businesses now have to focus their efforts on relationship building and creating an emotional bond.
6. Be borderless and flexible – Take a more unified approach to make sure you appear everywhere humanly possible. Don’t forget that some of the most influential branding campaigns have been rather bold.
Examples: Old Spice, Hotels.com, Canadian Tire, Allstate.
When Should You Invest In Your Brand?
When you look at branding as an investment, rather than a cost, the benefits are clear. Branding pays dividends over the lifetime of your company and will help you secure your business’ future. The effects branding will have on your business may not be immediate, but they will be exponential.
The question of “how long will it take for my branding activities to deliver results to my bottom-line,” may come to mind. There is no one shoe fits all answer. But I can say that if you invest a reasonable amount of money comparative to the branding goals you have determined, as well as remain consistent, you can see your branding efforts begin to pay off within a few months.
Investing in your brand will enable your business to:
• attract higher quality customers
• close more sales
• command higher prices for your products/services
• increase customer loyalty
• help establish yourself as an industry leader
• decrease overall marketing spend
• increase company value
• boost employee loyalty and productivity
• adapt to changes in the market place
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