I’m often asked what’s critical to a brand’s success. While I have to say, ‘many things’, in truth, for me there are three vital elements that stand above all else.
Far too often, marketers like to change things up. They obsess over the numbers, not giving themselves or the brand enough time to fully unfold. As a result, the messages and campaign directions tend to change quickly without driving the intended message or the over-arching one through.
Inconsistencies lead to a rather vague or mixed reception in the market with customers not able to easily pin-point what the brand really stands for. Without a clear understanding, customers fail to find affinity with the brand and its messages.
Another issue that crops up is the lack of consistency in brand assets. Alternations to logo designs, color swaps, tagline changes, failure to adhere to guidelines are all reasons why a brand fails to leave its mark.
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, for better or worse.
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, dial-ins etc have only brought customers closer to brands than ever before. Businesses must be open to addressing their customers 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.
I consider integrity to be of vital importance because as things flow from the point above, customers are more aware and informed today. Brands need to understand that they are being watched. They can no longer dodge controversies. Customers expect accountability from the brands they do business with. In most cases, they 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 now than ever.
Brands also need to showcase their social and environmental responsibilities. There are expectations from their customers that go beyond the products or services, features or benefits. 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 overall brand strategy, will serve you well in the long-run.