Apple, Coke, Nike, IBM, Microsoft, NASCAR, Starbucks, Tiffany, Nordstrom, and Walmart – do I have to explain any of these brands to you? Probably no. Highly successful branding, like that of the above companies, means you do not have to explain your product or service. These companies took years, sometimes decades to communicate their brand to the point of being universally understood. So many companies are working to create the same level of resonance, so how do you connect with your customers and clients in that same way when they are overwhelmed by conflicting priorities, surrounded by an abundance of clutter, and drowning is massive amounts of multi-media noise? You care passionately about your product and you want customers to feel the same. Marketing sells, branding connects.
My friend Peter Metzinger says, “The best brand is one that is connected to one single word and creates a whole new category. For example, Tesla and the electric car – they were neither first, nor are they alone.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” Differentiation being the key!
As an entrepreneur, if you want to successfully brand your company, then you have to build a strong reputation based on a distinctive set of attributes. You need to rely on your own marketing leadership to create outstanding marketing materials, with a consistent and effective visual statement in order to court and engage the media; and to passionately connect with customers.
Your branding goals should be to:
- Confirm credibility
- Connect emotionally
- Create loyalty
- Deliver a precise message
- Motivate customers
Steps to achieving these goals:
- Research your industry, target audience, current customers
- Create a tactical marketing plan that will effective
- Create a long-term strategy that can absorb changes such as growth and competition
- Continually invest in the brand
What resources, designations, and materials will you provide to ensure that the professional element is connecting with your clients? Establishing expertise and communicating that effectively will be important. There needs to be a place on your website where you display or highlight your media accomplishments.
Actually knowing your customer through extensive, repeat research seems harder than casting a wider net to find new customers, but the reality is that one current customer is much more valuable than a new customer. The current customer has and will continue to invest in the brand and will be an excellent source of feedback. You just have to ask. Think of ideas for sing your social media as a platform for a greater cause. Simply posting and tweeting coupons will not engage your customers. The current customer has and will continue to invest in the brand and will be an excellent source of feedback. You just have to ask. Where do you talk to your customers and interact with experts and the media? Just posting links for people to buy products is not communication. Where can you take a piece of daily news or popular gossip and add your expert commentary?
Deliver a precise message
Everything about this has to be special – special is the new regular and experience is the goal, even for something that seems simple. It needs to be tweetable to connect with customers. Having different social destinations fragments your customer base.
Consumers do not buy products because of what that product does. People buy items because it helps to tell the story of who they are. A mother might buy discount dish soap because her story is that she is saving money or lives on a tight budget. It may be true, but plenty of people on budgets splurge. People do not buy iPhone because they are the best phones available (although an Apple loyalist will argue to the death on this) they buy those phones because of how the brand and product makes them feel about themselves. So do not try to sell to your customer, be a partner in helping them to tell their story.
Want details? Read through the steps of The PR Method here:
The PR Method: Branding Basics
The PR Method: PR Tactics
The PR Method: Media Relations
The PR Method: Social Success
The PR Method: Blogging Basics
The PR Method: PR Prognosis
The PR Method: PR Formula