How to Use Branding to Create Connections
What makes you choose Coke over Pepsi? Adidas over Nike? Olive Garden over the local pizza joint? BRANDING.
You feel a connection—nostalgic, sensory, or otherwise triggered—with those brands you’ve grown to trust and whom you perceive to be continually meeting your needs as a consumer. But branding fails when it hasn’t been refined or tended to.
If you’ve lost that strong connection with your prospects and customers—particularly if things have been on the decline and/or you haven’t upgraded in a few years—it may be time for some adjustments to find those ideal customers and make those tried-and-true connections.
Let’s Go Shopping
Let’s say you’ve shopped at the same grocery store for a decade, but you’ve recently realized that the quality has slumped. The floors are sticky and the ceiling leaks, the staff is lazy and unfriendly, and there’s a funny smell coming from the meat cooler: all signs of neglect.
A friend suggests another store, one that is clean, emphasizes a positive customer experience, and doesn’t give you a queasy feeling as you wander the aisles. The stores are the same age and the products are the same. Let’s say that even the prices are the same, but it’s just a little further from home.
You take his advice and, after just one visit, you never return to your old store. Why?
The philosophy behind the other store’s branding encompasses a positive overall experience for the customer—consistently over time. The fact that it’s not as convenient loses priority when compared with the overall impression you’ve had from visiting the competing store just one time.
What Is Hip?
As image and interconnectedness have become mainstream monsters, customers’ expectations have grown more branding-focused. They want to believe that the companies they’re buying from and doing business with are still hip.
Customer loyalty can all-too-suddenly disappear when our ADD culture finds a hipper alternative. Their connection with you breaks as they form a stronger connection with a brand they feel attracted to. It’s true across nearly all industries and business types.
What to Do?
Keep your branding fresh and consistent. That’s all you have to do. And yet, it seems to be the #1 most neglected area, and that could be detrimental to your business.
There is a purposefulness about good branding that requires active effort on the part of the business owner and every person who works within the organization. It seems that many business owners don’t keep up because they don’t understand the full impact that the image they project has on their potential to attract new customers.
Branding has to become a part of every email you send out, every letter you post, and every bit of your online marketing presence. If someone gets “a feeling” from your website, for instance, that is mirrored by your voice on the phone, your business card, your product, whatever else … something just CLICKS. Effective branding creates a feeling of connectedness even before the purchase.
That’s when you know that what’s going on in your heart – the feeling you have about yourself as a businessperson and your business as an extension of that – speaks through your branding. This is who you genuinely are – no imitation or corporate sheen; just you at your most confident and authentic. And that means loyal customers.
Upgrade & Refine, Upgrade & Refine…
Many business owners will read this post and decide it’s too much work, that they don’t have enough time, and that they’ll figure out another way to draw in new customers. And that’s fine, except that refining your brand is generally cheaper than advertising and other lead-gathering techniques, can be done over time largely in-house, and has greater lasting impact.
Refining your branding is about an attitude change and an investment of time. Think about how you’re being perceived every time you interact with anyone outside the building. Realize that people are forming impressions of your business based purely and simply on the image they’re seeing, with absolutely no personal interaction with you or your staff whatsoever.
It’s time to critically evaluate just how current and modern you look, how you express your mission and personality, and whether or not that projection is affecting your ability to attract business. Little by little, upgrade and refine, upgrade and refine….
I’ve redesigned, rewritten, and refined our proposal document and acquisitions process dozens of times. This past month, I heard the CLICK as new clients openly shared their appreciation for our process and their admiration of the materials they’d received. That unsolicited feedback has been instrumental in letting us know that the time spent refining our brand and customer experience has been well worth it. The customer is confident in the 816 brand from the get-go, and that confidence spells long-term loyalty.
Does that mean I can stop? Absolutely not. Now it’s time to focus on another area—upgrade and refine, upgrade and refine….
Take the time because it’s the most worthwhile investment you’ll make in keeping your customers and prospects aware of your efforts to stay current. For more information on how to find your personality and build a better brand, check out “Using Personality to Attract More Customers to Your Small Business” or contact us!
Photo credits: Mark Nye and Andrew Fysh and Peter Lee