Every business dreams of it and many would argue that it's the key to market survival, but creating a strong brand can be a tough nut to crack. An effective logo and design, although essential, are just some of the ingredients needed to create a strong brand identity. Here are five pieces of advice to help turn those initial sparks into a bonfire.
1. Have conviction
Get to the point. "This is who we are"; "this is what we do"; "this is who we do it for". If you can't explain these fundamental points in one clear and concise statement, how can you expect your customers to understand your brand? Think 30 second elevator pitch as opposed to a 30 page document. Time is valuable. Short. Snappy. Statements. Will. Suffice. It may sound simple, but putting together a brief mission statement (whether you choose to publicise it or not) can be a great way of fine tuning what you're all about, even if it's just for your own reassurance. Be proud of your USP's and your customers will reward you with respect, loyalty and - if you're really good at it - advocacy.
Hand in hand with conviction is sticking to what you're good at. Don't try to please everyone or you'll be at risk of becoming a vanilla brand and your company values will go out the window. Be specific when targeting and segmenting your audience by using demographic, geographic, behavioural and even psychographic methods. Yes, you may be limiting yourself to a smaller audience, but this often pays off and your brand will develop a far more loyal customer base than any one-size-fits-all Average Joe.
Some of our leisure clients choose to target students and low-income segments by positioning themselves as "budget" gyms. At the opposite end of the scale are clients who choose to target a higher-income audience, therefore using a "luxury" positioning strategy. You can't be both at the same time - so pick one and stand proud!
2. Be memorable
Give that little extra something. Respond to feedback. Show how much you appreciate your customers. By looking after the details, this can dramatically improve your overall brand equity and give your customers a reason to remain loyal. Just as one negative comment can have a detrimental impact on your reputation, think of the flip side: the smallest kind gesture can go a million miles in the eyes of the customer. Set your standards high: personalise, tailor your service where possible and address your customers by name. Think outside the box every now and then. One example we've witnessed was a company director who put life-size cardboard cut-outs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in his office to remind his customer service team to speak to every customer as if they were royalty. Perhaps this is extreme - but if it gets results, it's worth it.
The same goes for rewarding and thanking your customers: who can argue with a complimentary token of appreciation? These touches will be the carrot to tempt your audience into experiencing your brand further, creating intrigue and curiosity.
Your design, brand name and logo are excellent ways to make your customers instantly recognise you. Ask yourself: is your branding meaningful? Does your logo have a clear link to your values and brand name that your customers will instantly "get"? Our designers work closely with clients to ensure that their existing branding and values are prominent throughout their latest campaigns, as well as remaining consistent across all channels (website, social media and printed work).
All of that said, the previous point means nothing if you don't know who your competitors are or what they have to offer. You could be pulling out all the stops to perfect your customer experience and create a memorable brand, but if your direct competitors are offering the same "extras" that you thought were your USP's, then your competitive edge will suffer and so will your customer base. In business everything is relative, so do your research. What is the demand for your product/service? Where do you fit into the market? How can you turn your competitor's weaknesses into your strengths? Position yourself effectively and the gap between how you want to be seen by your customers and how you are actually seen by your customers will become closer.
4. Know your customer
So, you've done your competitor research and you know where you sit in the market, but if you don't research customer needs then you're missing a trick. You may see yourselves as "the most luxurious facility in the southwest", but that holds no value at all unless your customers agree. Ever heard of the expression, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Well, a brand is only in the eye of the customer. You can influence your audience to have certain beliefs and feelings about your brand, but the final say is with the customer. That is why the following information is so fundamental.
LISTEN! This is the number one piece of advice for keeping your customers truly satisfied and well on their way to becoming brand advocates, flying the flag and telling all their friends about how brilliant you are. Have these questions in mind: what do your customers want? How can you fulfil their needs? What would they change about you? This last one is crucial and brings us to the final point. At Bigwave media we listened to customer feedback and invested in an online proving system to improve and speed up the client proofing system. Great feedback led to a great service improvement.
5. Stay Fresh
This is where many brands fall flat. Complacency is extremely dangerous in a world of constant movement and innovation, so paying close attention to market changes and working hard to stay ahead of the game is absolutely vital in order to survive. Don't be ignorant towards the needs of your customers, and certainly do not underestimate the ability of your competitors or market advancements. As successful as you may become, never assume that you're safe. We've all heard of the expression of "becoming a boiled frog". There is no such thing as a "finished product" in terms of creating a brand - the market is constantly evolving and so should you. Remember the previous point about a brand being in the eye of the customer: this is what makes monitoring and evaluation so important. Ask for feedback, swallow your pride and take a knock to stand up higher. If your sales start to decline or customers are gradually disappearing, don't bury your head in the sand; you may be in need of a shake-up, whether it involves updating your logo or undergoing a total rebrand.
Bigwave media is a creative marketing agency working with clients across the UK. To discuss your brand or how we could mystery shop you services please contact us on 0845 643 2385 or complete our contact form.
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