Can You Afford to Let These Slide?
Your brand is your company identity. Building that brand is at once the most basic and the most essential of tasks. From the moment the company is conceived, everyone involved should be concerned with how the company is perceived. The individual parts of your company—the ingredients used in your recipes, the parts used in the cars you manufacture, the technology used in your software—these aren’t what comprise your brand. In fact, you can be certain hundreds of other companies exist with these exact components. Your brand is how your customers see you, and this image comes from the service you provide, the voice you use in marketing, and even the social consciousness of the executive staff and employees. Your brand is the sum of all these parts, and works only when every part is also healthy.
Connection to Buyer Personas
The majority of your brand strategy has been crafted to reach your target audience according to their buyer personas. These are the people most likely to buy your products and services, and they’re usually part of specific demographics. Your branding must catch the attention of those in the target demographics according to their psychographic dimensions.
One brand that truly understands its buyer personas is trendy and vintage online clothier ModCloth. Images on the website and in marketing emails feature the exact demographic the brand serves, marketing copy uses language designed to strike a chord with those buyers, and the customer service options available cater to the technologically savvy millennials the company serves. Above all, they treat each buyer as an individual and connect with them on a personal level.
Consumer trust, as JC Penney discovered, is the only way to experience success. If buyers don’t trust your message or your company, they’re not going to make a purchase, and they definitely won’t become long-time, loyal customers. You can break this trust at any point in your company’s existence, even after 111 years.
A mixed message with the intention of reaching a larger audience could, in fact, alienate your buyers, as retailer JC Penney recently discovered. In an effort to elevate the brand for a high-end clientele, JC Penney instead shunned the buyers who had trusted the brand for decades while also looking lost.
Relationship with Buyers
Earning consumer trust is hard enough, so you don’t want to endanger that when you start to build a relationship. Customer loyalty doesn’t happen because of giveaways and discounts. These buyers become regulars because they recognize your brand, they trust your image, and you follow through every time with quality products and stellar service. It only takes one misstep to destroy a friendship, even one that’s strong, true, and beautiful.
If you consider the few true “empires” out there—McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Apple—one thing becomes abundantly clear. These companies have put their branding strategy before anything else. A part of that strategy may very well be to provide inexpensive products to the masses or, in the case of Apple, very expensive products. If you investigate their brand, you’ll see the consistency across all forms of marketing, storefronts, logos, policies, product launches, and customer service. When something changes, the companies still ensure that change fits the branding standards and ease that change into the mainstream over the course of time. This gives buyers a chance to learn the new identity and develop a sense of trust.
If you allow discrepancies between offices, changes on a monthly basis, or even multiple logos on products and communication, your empire will fold before it ever gets off the ground. If, however, you can maintain the identity as you grow and expand, you’ll have a distinct advantage.
You may not even realize your branding standards have slipped. Maybe you decided to adopt a more casual approach to your company blogs, decided to post funny—though maybe sometimes offensive—updates to Facebook, or simply tweak your logo. Perhaps even more likely, you’ve gotten so caught up in making more money that you’ve stopped paying attention to your company’s overall image. If you’re allowing things to stand between your company and its brand strategy, you will lose out.
Have you ever experienced a negative outcome due to neglecting your brand strategy? We’d love to learn your story. Leave us a comment!