Whether you offer a service or a product, your brand is one of the most important aspects on which your success hinges. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the money to pour into brand development. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your brand! If we understand the purpose of a brand, we can find a few simple steps that can immediately elevate it and make it more effective. Are you ready?
What Is A Brand?
Simply put, a brand is a promise. Most people assume a brand is equivalent to the Golden Arches or the Nike Swoosh. Those elements are the visual representation of a company, and we’ve developed an emotional connection to those elements. But the brand is the message behind the company.
You can read a case study on Nike’s brand here, but for this article, we’re going to take a look the shipping powerhouse, Amazon.
No doubt you’ve used Amazon at one point. This company is booming at the moment and is quickly running brick and mortar stores out of business. In fact, it ships over 3 million packages a day. So it’s widely used and they’re clearly doing something right. And what they’re doing right can easily be applied to your business today.
The first success point is to identify your promise.
As stated, a brand (or brand position) is simply the promise from a company to its consumers. Nike helps you achieve greatness. Coke guarantees you’ll enjoy the moment. McDonald’s promises you’ll love it.
Amazon’s promise is literally depicted in its logo. It promises that you can find anything, from A to Z. It also guarantees happiness and satisfaction.
The application here is that you know upfront what Amazon is promising to you. Does your company have a promise? Is it clearly stated or understood? Do you deliver on the promise?
No matter what kind of company you are, you can derive a brand position. You can take your stance in the market with what you offer to your consumer. It doesn’t have to be a tangible thing, such as “the best ice cream in the Northwest.” Especially because you’re probably not the best ice cream in the Northwest. (And if you truly are, way to go! You’re an inspiration!)
A brand promise can, and usually should be, an evoked emotion, a fulfilled desire, or bold prediction.
- McDonald’s evokes love.
- Amazon gives you anything.
- Apple is the future.
Notice none of those need to even speak about the tangible product or service, but rather they expand on the intangible aspects of the company.
Application of Your Promise
Sit down and evaluate what your company’s brand can be/should be/currently is. And then ask yourself or your clients a series of questions:
- Is your company’s promise easy to identify?
- Does it reflect the product or service you offer?
- Are you able to deliver on that promise?
- Does your visual identity reflect that promise?
- Are there ways to strengthen the promise?
Once you have that, you then need to turn your attention to your competitors. Which leads to the second point.
The second success point is to clarify your value.
Amazon is widely known as the superstar of online shopping. How did it become such a force? It offered better value than its competitors.
Most people I know, especially the younger generations, hardly ever visit brick and mortar stores anymore. Why? It’s not that they’re lazy, but it’s because it’s easier and cheaper to shop on Amazon. I know if I want to buy a new swivel chair for my office, Amazon has more options and better prices than Staples or Office Max. And I don’t need to leave my house to find it. I don’t need to lug it out to my car.
Amazon offers better customer experience than most stores can, because nothing can get easier that shopping from your couch in your pj’s.
And Amazon let’s people know that.
Application of Your Value
What about your company is better than your competitors? Or what aspect of it is different?
If you are a dog grooming business, why should I take my pup to you instead of the groomer two blocks away? Do you have a spa in your store for humans, so I can have an hour of luxury while my furry friend does to? Maybe you specialize in grooming for show dogs. Do you clients know that?
Good brand positioning is clarifying why your company should be chosen over a similar one. This goes back to your brand promise. Your promise needs to be identified so you can tell your audience why you are a better choice than your competition.
The third success point is to connect with your audience.
No matter how developed technology becomes, there is always a requirement for a human aspect in a company. In fact, that need grows as robots and AI become the norm. A strong brand connects to its audience beyond the brand promise and brand position.
AirBnB does a fantastic job of this. They’ve become more than a travel service.
- First, they promise an easy, cheap, and safe way to travel.
- Second, they position themselves as a trustworthy service for finding lodging.
- And third, they tap into the “wanderlust” aspect of their audience.
Look at the opening statement on their website. They could’ve just said “Travel the world.” But instead they use the words “unique” and “experiences.” That’s no accident, that’s an intentional effort to connect with their audience. I don’t just want to travel, I want to gain unique experiences.
Amazon does the same, just not in the same manner. They connect with their audience by having superior customer service. The easy of use for Amazon makes it a powerful company, because they know their audience and they care about the experience of using Amazon.
Connecting with your audience can be using words to capture an aspect of humanity, or it can be the action of fulfilling your audience’s needs in a superior way.
This connection is the reason companies have PR departments. It matters how the public views your company. Businesses that have been tied to misconduct, discrimination, or unsavory activities often take a massive hit. It’s not that those things necessarily impact the product or service offered, but it absolutely impacts the connection the company has with its audience.
Application of Audience Connection
For your business, this can be achieved using social media. Do you quickly respond to customer interactions? Is your online presence a reflection of your brand and does it highlight the humanity of your audience?
Having client testimonials is another way of strengthening your connection. People are more likely to trust the experience of another consumer. Do you have a way for customers to easily review your company and leave compliments? Are you powerfully displaying your reviews?
This is just scratching the surface of how impactful your brand is, and companies can spend millions elevating their brand. You might not have millions to spend, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your brand. Evaluating your brand can help you immediately enhance it, and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts.
If you’ve taken your brand as far as you can, the next step is bringing on a brand strategist and designer. Coincidentally, that’s what I’m here for! If you want a brand evaluation, contact me today to schedule one. We’ll walk through your company and your audience, and you’ll receive a full summary of strengths, weaknesses, and next steps to improve your brand.