Think about a product or service that you experienced that just felt right.
What makes some companies succeed in building a complete experience that totally matches the image they project?
Does their product match their promise? Maybe you felt the values they spoke about when you interacted with their staff? Perhaps you loved your experience so much you just had to share it with others?
That is what great branding looks and feels like, and it is so much more than just a logo.
What is Branding?
While a classic textbook definition from the American Marketing Association focuses on symbols and features that mark your product or service as distinct, the reality is that branding is now much more complex and all encompassing than just a slogan or logo.
As consumers we have all become more demanding and our relationship with the way we consume has evolved to match this. Similarly, organisations have met this challenge by working to consider the complete experience and how they can strengthen emotional connections to leverage greater loyalty to their brand.
Companies that succeed at branding work hard to move themselves from being one of a range of competitors to being the solution to their customer’s problem or need. This is a considered approach that starts by defining who you are before tackling the other parts of your marketing strategy, avoiding sending mixed messages to your customers and team.
When understood this way, branding is critical to informing advertising and marketing efforts for every company or organisation, irrespective of industry. You need to know who you are before you can effectively share this with the world.
Benefits of Branding
While an awesome Adwords campaign or a timely Content marketing piece might bring you customers, a strong brand keeps this messaging consistent and is what keeps customers coming back for more.
Your team is responsible for implementing branding at each and every transaction point or interaction. From design to decision making to delivery, when your team has a clear understanding of purpose and desired emotional impact, they can meet and exceed customer expectations, creating loyal customers.
Increasingly loyal customers
Depending on where you look, attracting new customers can cost anywhere from five to 25 times more than retaining existing ones.
Another key benefit of more loyal customers is that they act as truly powerful advocates for your brand.
Clear and Consistent Messaging
With so many Social Media touchpoints and Promotional Channels available, it has never been more important to clearly articulate what you stand for. Especially as customers increasingly look to buy from brands that share their values.
Customers increasingly engage with your organisation through a range of different touchpoints. While you may approach marketing on each of these channels with different strategies, adopting an integrated marketing approach is much easier when your brand identity is consistent and clear.
Brand Identity & Your Team
Any truly fantastic customer service experience comes from a team who believe in the product or service they provide.
But this isn’t just common sense. Experts have known for decades that helping employees make an emotional connection to the products and services they provide motivates them to work harder and express greater loyalty. Loyal employees make for happy customers.
People are unified and find inspiration in a shared sense of identity when they have a common sense of purpose. If you communicate clearly and help your staff identify with your brand, it can have a seriously positive impact on your customer service.
4 critical questions to consider
Modern branding is a complex area. So how can you be sure that your branding is effective? These questions are a great place to start:
- What feelings do you want to evoke when people think about your business?
- Can your brand meet the promises made to your target audience? Does your team take pride in this?
- Is your brand relatable to your key audience? Do they innately ‘get’ what you are about or is this confusing for them?
- Does your brand look and feel consistent with your values across all of your touchpoints?
If you find that you are answering no to any of the above questions you might consider seeking assistance from a professional.
Should I use a Branding Agency?
Given the importance of Branding and the numerous benefits investing in this yields, many companies naturally seek expert support from a Branding Agency in tackling this challenge.
While costs can be highly variable depending on the Agency you work with, any investment of time and money should give you a commensurate return on your investment. So what should you look for in a prospective Branding Agency?
Like any profession, ensuring you hire an experienced team is a great place to start. Before considering any agency or designer, make sure they are taking the time to learn about your business in depth. Finally, first impressions matter. So even though branding is about more than just logos, never settle for an agency who can’t produce the look you’re after visually.
While the strategies and tips provided in this article are a great starting point, take this advice as general only. Each company and organisation has different needs and goals, so find what works for you and seek professional advice.