Anyone can start a business. But it takes more than filing paperwork to build a brand.
As we’ve always preached here at Public, brand building is more than designing a pretty logo. It is the overall impression you get from your audience and most importantly, your brand’s impact whenever someone hears your name. It is the process of creating or improving the customers’ knowledge and opinions about a brand.
Branding is your most powerful marketing tool. Your identity can either make or break you. If done right, you’ll reap long-term benefits including increased return on investment, improved brand awareness, and growth in following and referrals.
Same thing happens if you don’t take building your brand reputation seriously. It is more difficult to maintain a pristine brand image in the digital world as word of mouth (especially on social media) spreads like wildfire. Even if you delete posts you’ve unintentionally left on your page, best bet, someone has already taken a screenshot of it. Your digital footprint stays forever.
So whether you are a start-up or planning to do rebranding, you want a well-thought out brand management strategy that will help you maintain a good image on and off line.
Brand Building for Small Business
One misconception is that only corporations and big businesses should be extra cautious about their branding since they have a bigger customer base and wider audience. But the thing is, all big brands started small. The size of your business should not stop you from creating a brand that makes the right impression.
Your brand identity sets you apart from a crowded market. It’s what makes you unique from your competition and the reason why you would want consumers to choose you. Businesses need a good brand strategy to differentiate themselves and provide a better value proposition to their customers.
Branding builds credibility and establishes trust between you and your public. Consumers are more enticed to buy from a brand they feel comfortable or share the same values with. And they are more likely to buy again if they feel your brand is trustworthy.
Branding is most crucial especially on digital platforms. With the influx of information and data online, it’s easy to get lured into trends, which may not be in line with your principles. Not only will you risk losing your brand voice, it may also jeopardize your customer relationship as they may find lesser value in your messaging.
What are the 4 Steps of Branding?
Here are four steps to building a successful brand.
Define how you want your brand to be perceived
Always keep in mind how you want your customers to see you. What impression do you want your brand to give off to potential customers? How do you want them to feel whenever they encounter your logo or hear your name? How do you want them to describe their experience while using your product? Write them down and make it an integral part of your rule book.
Organize your business according to this identity
Once you have a brand persona in mind, make sure all areas of your business work their way towards building that persona. Branding should not only reflect on your marketing collateral. It should also reflect on your staff too – from the CEO to rank and file. It should influence processes, customer service, and even your office culture.
Communication and messaging
Your messaging and personality should be consistent on all platforms. What you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin as well as your ads should be aligned with your ideal brand identity.
Consistency is the key
Staying true to your brand, its purpose, and what it stands for what will drive your brand to success. Consistency builds trust between you and your customers. Just like making a promise, it is your responsibility to fulfill that promise to your customers consistently.
Although there will be instances where you need to adapt to change, make sure that it is still aligned with your purpose and core values.
How Do You Build Brand Reputation Online?
When it comes to digital, branding becomes a two-way street. It’s not just about what you put out there. You should also be prepared to address what gets thrown your way – good or bad.
Online reputation management goes beyond monitoring comments and messages on your social media pages. It’s thoroughly ‘listening’ to what is being said about you in the digital world. Although social media is the most frequently used, there are other areas on the internet where feedback can be published such as review sites, local listings (like Google My Business) and content publishers/digital media companies.
Much like how you would appreciate a positive feedback, the same level of courtesy should also be applied to criticisms.
Issues should be attended to as soon as possible with a concrete solution to show your public. Always be transparent. Making people respect you is the most important rule when it comes to reputation management. A brand that is willing to admit their mistake and has a plan to correct it will earn respect and admiration from customers. Either way, we’re all human and we make mistakes.
Complaints, suggestions as well as rude commentary should be handled with politeness. Always keep your cool and accept negative feedback regardless of whose fault it was. Acknowledge recommendations even if it’s not in line with your business plan or goals.
On the other hand, not all bad reputation comes from user generated content. There are bad players who may use dirty tactics to eliminate you from the competition. A good example of this is a hate site and negative SEO. If you feel like there is a serious attack on your brand image, it may be necessary to conduct cyber investigation.
Big or small businesses should remain vigilant about maintaining a good, solid brand identity. If your customers trust you and feel like you’re providing great value, they wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for your services.
If you feel like your efforts are not meeting expectations, contact a brand management specialist.