Setting Up For Brand Success
I’m often asked what’s critical to brand success. While I have to say, ‘many things’, in truth, for me there are three vital elements that stand out.
Far too often, marketers obsess over the short run, not giving themselves or the brand enough time to fully unfold. They frequently change direction when they don’t get those quick wins. As a result, messages and campaign directions shift without driving a uniform message or delivering an overarching message long enough.
Inconsistencies lead to a mixed reception in the market with customers not able to pinpoint what the brand really stands for. Without a clear understanding, customers fail to find affinity with the brand. You can’t seek brand success if you aren’t painfully aware of who the brand is.
Another issue that crops up often is the lack of consistency in brand assets. Alterations to logo designs, color codes, taglines are all reasons why a brand fails to leave its mark. Failure to adhere to guidelines is a crime committed not just by the marketing team but by every other department in the company. An inconsistent brand confuses the target audience and never really owns a unique space.
The digital world has changed the way we interact with the brands we love. Baby boomers, GenX and early Millennials did not always have the sort of access to brands that more recent generations are accustomed to. Of course, that does not mean the former generations do not indulge in the present opportunity. It’s just that there were more uni-directional conversations in the past as opposed to the two-way discussions we have today.
Brands today have a valuable opportunity to engage their audiences in discussions, many of which can be achieved in real time. Social media, interactive apps, live chats, live views, dial-ins etc have only brought customers closer to brands than ever before. Businesses must be open to addressing customer frustrations. Customers expect to have answers and be answered. They want the brand they do business with to provide solutions before, during and after the sales process. Being accessible is critical to that.
I consider integrity to be of vital importance because customers are more aware and informed today. Brands need to understand that they are being watched. They are expected to do the right thing. Customers expect accountability from the brands they do business with. In most cases, customers have alternatives to choose from and only need a good reason to deflect.
Newer generations are not influenced by the same gimmicks that worked in the past. They share, review and engage. They have a voice and they’re not afraid to use it. Word-of-mouth is more powerful today than ever before and digital tools amplify it. Newer generations want to know what the brand does for society. There are expectations from customers that go beyond products or services, features or benefits
So, brands need to showcase their social and environmental responsibilities. Customers want to know that their favorite brands are giving back to humanity and making the planet a better or safer place. Brands, simply, have to do the right thing. They have to address goals that lie outside the balance sheet.
If your brand lacks one or all of the above, it’s seriously threading difficult waters. Whether you’re a start-up, a small business, an entrepreneur or a large organization, ensuring that the elements described above are incorporated into your brand strategy, will help set you up for brand success.