After hundreds of branding consults, the most common thing my clients ask for is a brand that people will love. What they’re really saying—most of the time—is that they want to have a logo that people will love.
In this article when I’m talking about ‘branding,’ I’m not only talking about your logo on its own. I’m talking about the total sum of your company’s identity:
- How you interact with your customers
- Your marketing materials (business cards, website)
- Your photography choices
- Touchpoints in your sales processes
- The way you write content on your website
- The way you interact on social media
- The list goes on and on
In a world where 89% of B2B businesses are citing brand awareness as their top priority, companies that aren’t focused on how their customers think of them are losing out on sales, referrals and the coveted loyalty of a ‘household brand.’
One of my favourite parts of being a brand consultant is helping business owners create a strategy around their whole brand that people will fall in love with!
I want to get you started with seven things you can do to take your audience from ‘dimly aware of your company’ to head over heels in love with your brand.
# 1 – SERVE FIRST, SELL SECOND
Have you ever walked into a store and had a clerk come up to you immediately and ask if you want to buy something? Or landed on a website and had a pop-up asking you to buy something right away? No one enjoys having this happen to them, so why do brands consistently put selling first?
Today’s consumers are savvier than they have ever been. They are touching base with brands on social media, at conferences, and in stores—online and locally—before they talk to a single person at your company. When you’re thinking of how you manage your brand’s communication channels, are you providing value outside the products or services you sell?
Part of building an exceptional brand presence is being generous with the wealth of information you have on your area of expertise. Educating or entertaining your customers with the knowledge that you have gives them a glimpse into who you are and why they should buy from you. It also works toward providing those magical 7 points of contact needed for your audience to decide to take out their wallet.
For you this might look like providing informative articles, putting out video tutorials, giving free talks at local meetups within your industry or even just spending some time answering questions on Facebook groups.
The more value you put out to serve your customer, the more identifiable your brand becomes.
# 2 – TRY A HUMAN-CENTRED APPROACH
The most influential role of your brand is the relationship that you establish between you and your customer. Top companies everywhere are looking for the best way to connect with their customers, so you end up reading a lot of advice that says to ‘be authentic’ online, but what does that really mean?
Well, that comes down to what brand strategy you have in place for your company and how you can incorporate a more human-centred approach to your brand. This could be something as simple as adding more images of yourself into your social media if you’re working solo or creating Instagram story templates to help your employees be themselves on your professional feed.
If your approach isn’t relying on social media as much, you could add interview-style testimonials with your clients as videos on your website. Or show up on their websites as a guest interview.
# 3 – ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH TO YOUR BRANDING
In our digital age, it’s all too easy to lose a sense of a real connection with your friends and family. It’s just as easy for your brand to lose a genuine relationship with your customers.
Take a second to close your eyes and think of a time that you received a hand-written note from someone. Maybe it was your real estate agent checking in, or a client who appreciated the extra time you spent with them. It could also be the last holiday card you received! When you get something that took an additional couple steps, like a handwritten note mailed to you, it sticks in your mind and gives you all the warm and fuzzy feelings.
For me, it was when I signed up with Mailchimp for my first-ever email campaign. I remember feeling unsure, happy, accomplished, and a little anxious about what people would think. These days I hardly think of any of those feelings. I think about something I received in the mail a week later—a pair of adorable socks from Mailchimp to congratulate me on sending out my first campaign.
It changed the way I viewed the company. It built loyalty to them. And most importantly, it makes me think of them every time someone asks about an email service provider.
These are small investments that will see a return for your company in personal use and referrals for years to come. So, take the extra time to use the digital ‘disconnect’ to your brand’s advantage.
HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVOURITE TIMES TO SEND HANDWRITTEN LETTERS TO CUSTOMERS:
- Are they a brand-new client?
- Did you wrap up an important project?
- Is their birthday around the corner?
- Did they achieve a HUGE milestone?
# 4 – FIND YOUR BRAND’S UNIQUE VALUE OR ‘SWEET SPOT’
You may have heard the term or had entire meetings around creating a ‘Unique Value Proposition,’ but how does that translate into your brand?
Keeping in mind that your brand is a sum of the relationship you have with your customers, bringing something unique into your brand goes beyond the traditional ‘Unique Value’ that you’ve heard before.
Think about all the things that are unique to your company. Maybe it’s the process you use to bring your customers from point A to point B. Or perhaps it’s a unique guarantee of money back.
For some, it might even be about the unique problem that you solve for your customers.
When I went into business, a common issue I found my clients having around their brand was needing to talk to so many people.
- Photographers for professional headshots
- Video of their events to help promote sales
- Graphics for their social media
- Website design and sales pages
It was overwhelming for many to have to find all these individual freelancers and they didn’t want to pay for the lights to be on at an agency charging a premium.
While I wasn’t the only one to spot this opportunity, I approached it in my unique way. I built relationships with a few key freelancers and started quoting on projects as a single team.
My clients benefited from maintaining communication with me while I facilitated meetings with the other team members they needed. And providing that single point of contact was vital for a lot of clients to create brands that were contributing to the bottom line right away.
Review your top 3 competitors. Find the spots that are missing from what your customer needs and I can bet that you’ll find your brand’s ‘sweet spot’ (unique value).
HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVOURITE QUESTIONS TO BRAINSTORM YOUR BRAND VALUE:
- What’s unique about your process?
- Is there a price point difference? How can you make that unique to your business?
- Can you do something different on social media?
- Is there a combination of skills or services that are distinct?
- Is it your different experience that sets you apart?
- Do you have some special connections in the community?
Try to list as many as you can before you decide which one to create a brand strategy around.
# 5 – BE CONSISTENT
Every business owner I know has struggled at some point with consistency. However, this is something that can make or break your brand strategy.
A business can have the most fantastic logo in the world, but if they’re not showing up consistently with their brand, they could be hurting their image.
While there are some splendid movements toward body positivity and not judging a book by its cover, we are unfortunately not quite ‘there’ yet. Many people online will still judge a company by how its brand is executed and immediately decide if they want to work with that company or not. First impressions are incredibly persuasive.
Branding today is not just a logo and a font choice anymore. It’s how your logo is applied consistently across your business cards, brochures, social media graphics and website. It’s the type of writing ‘voice’ you have for your company coming across as you want it on all platforms.
Consistency in your brand is especially apparent in how often you’re showing up online; if you’re posting in your blog randomly through the year, you won’t be bringing in an audience that keeps coming back for more.
SO, WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO TO SHOW UP CONSISTENTLY?
- Have a brand strategy in place for how you will show up as a company culture online and in person
- Have a brand style guide available to everyone for how your collateral and social media graphics are designed
- Have a style guide created for the copywriting you want for your brand
- Hire an assistant for showing up in social media regularly
- Have an inbound content strategy set up to be producing content regularly
When I’m working with a client, I help them to develop a brand strategy and style guide so their team can implement their branding appropriately, but this kind of consistency shows up in all major brands.
When you walk into an Apple store anywhere, you know there will be someone to greet you at the door and direct you further into the store. It’s written into their store policy where employees should always be standing to help. It’s strengthened by the free genius bar analysis they offer. It’s present in the consistently high-quality computers they build. It builds trust without anyone ever having to ask for you to trust them.
# 6 – PUT IN SOME FACE TIME
And no, I don’t mean the FaceTime app. As I’ve said before in this article, bringing authenticity into your brand in 2019 is about bringing yourself into your brand.
Meeting someone in person is an invaluable way to make a strong and lasting impression on them. Seeing a photo of you on Instagram is in no way the same as meeting at an event and sharing a story or a joke with people you want to be working with.
Take some time each month to list out the events that you can attend. Bonus if those events have the people you want to be working with but try not to let that limit you. Think about the kinds of connections that will get you referrals. What kind of brands would you love to collaborate with? Who would you like to get a guest post with?
It’s hard to determine how a brand you envy became so well known, but I would wager that a huge part of it came from powerful in-person connections.
# 7 – MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL GOOD
This may seem obvious, but you would be shocked at the number of companies who are not taking the time to figure out how they want their audience to feel after coming in contact with their brand.
As I was mentioning earlier, your brand is a sum of the relationship that you have with your customers. Like any healthy relationship, you want to make them feel good about their interactions with you.
Think back to the last time you were at a party and how a gathering of people seemed to gravitate around one person in the room. What was it that was so magnetic about that particular person? Chances are they were genuinely friendly, inviting, and positive.
How can you take that same kind of magnetic energy and put it back into your brand? There are countless ways to do this through what you write, what you say, and ultimately, how you treat people.
A great recent example of this tactic is from Pepsi. This year, Pepsi launched a new tagline for 2019, ‘for the love of it.’ Right away you get a sense of how this brand wants to influence how you feel. PepsiCo global marketing Senior VP Roberto Rios says, “For the Love of It’ is our rallying cry, proudly saying to go all in for the things you love.”
Think about how you can make your customers feel their best. Is it adding an extra touchpoint to your sales process? Or maybe it’s something big like hosting a conference each year? Perhaps even sending out a ‘get started’ kit to new clients will ease the on-boarding process and improve their experience working with you.
These are just seven tactics that top brands use, but there are more out there that may work better for your brand. I want to invite every one of you to think about how you can nurture your relationships with your customers all year long and if you need some help feel free to give me a call as I would be more than happy to help you with the process.
by Brittany Pickrem
Brittany Pickrem is the owner and designer of her self-named boutique brand & design agency in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her team works with you to craft a custom brand experience for your business, from your boots to your billboard. Specializing in brand strategy, graphic design, wardrobe styling, website design and more, we make your brand show up with a persuasive presence across all channels. It’s their passion to help their customers build a powerful brand online, in print, on screen, and in person.
To learn more, find Brittany and her team at brittanypickrem.com