The Key to Strong Branding is Keeping it Real
Technology has had a major impact on the way companies acquire consumers and clients. Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, once said:
We don’t have a choice to digitally transform. The choice is how well we do it.
With the advent of technology and the way it has affected the consumer market in the digital age, organizations now more than ever have to think about the way they stand apart from their competitors. While deciding on a differentiate has always been a factor that every organization has had to leverage in order to successfully acquire their consumer base, now more than ever, leadership is feeling the pressure to ensure that one clear message is getting out there: this is what makes us different.
One surefire way to bring attention to this message is to invest heavily in the right branding. Branding refers to a company’s image, behavior, and message. This is the way a company is perceived from the outside—everything from its visual identity to the communications it puts out. It is something that’s reflected in its operations, in the way it connects with consumers, and in the way it appeals to its target audience.
According to Entrepreneur, "Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be".
This right here is the key.
Strategic Branding as a Powerful Sales Tool
Strategic branding means thinking about how you want consumers to view your organization. Aline Wheeler writes it beautifully in her book Designing Brand Identity, when she says, "People fall in love with brands, trust them, believe in their superiority."
Wells Fargo, an American multinational financial services company, dealt with an internal issues regarding improper activity that led to their stocks tanking and many of their customers turning away. The reason is simple: broken trust. Many consumers across the nation and the world have relied on Wells Fargo to manage their finance correctly. These consumers trusted their brand, their mission and vision, and believed the company when it made a promise.
This image that Wells Fargo has in the eyes of consumers was tied to their brand identity. After news broke that these internal struggles were occurring, and the company felt that it needed to reestablish its trust with the public, it took steps to work on a rebranding campaign. The result? A commercial titled “Earning Back Your Trust." In the commercial, we hear the words:
Over the years, we built on that trust. We always found the way. Until, we lost it. But that isn’t where the story ends. It’s where it starts again. With a complete re-commitment to you.
This is just one example of how much of an impact your brand has on your success as a company. Consumers and clients look for your branding, your vision and promise, to them. While many organizations want to invest in their operational pursuits, which undeniably hold great weight in the company’s success, something that can become overlooked and underutilized is an investment in its branding.
Authenticity is the Key to Successful Branding
When it comes to branding, you can choose colors swatches, hire someone to design a logo, and create some flyers that will go out to consumers. You can set up social accounts and post to them daily. You can create content and post it on a blog and share it across social channels. You can design collateral and change the way you interact with consumers through written and verbal communication. However, none of it will be successful if you do not figure out who you are on the inside.
The key to successful branding is knowing who you are internally, and then finding effective ways to share that message externally. Whatever the promise is that you are making to consumers, if your team does not believe it themselves, it will never successfully be received by your target audience. Your pool of potential clients and consumers want to know that what you are selling, what commitments you are making, and what mission and vision you believe in, are elements that you genuinely believe in yourself.
[Related: 7 Steps to Personal Brand Building For Women]
This makes it easier to communicate as well. If you know your product can change lives, then it’s easier to sell. There’s no going back and trying to piece together a story about your product or line of service after the fact. You know what solution you are providing to consumer, and therefore it is easy to sell it. You just know.
You are just being you.
In his book Human to Human: H2H, author Bryan Kramer points out that businesses and products do not have emotion. However, humans do. We want to feel something, and that is ingrained in our very biological nature.
That means relying on emotion when trying to set up successful campaigns. Many times, companies—whether they be start-ups, solo entrepreneurs, small businesses, or large corporations—get caught up in the game of trying to sell their product or service. We lose the human connection. This competitive market is often referred to as the “Red Ocean,” a metaphor for the way companies all fight in the same space just as sharks are competing against each other for the same food source.
Applying Authenticity to Your Brand
In order to apply authenticity to your brand, start by sitting down with your team and deciding what it is your company stands for. If you’re a solo entrepreneur trying to raise funds on Kickstarter, think about what your product means to you. How can it change lives? What message are you trying to send about it? Why is this product or line of service so special? Think about the product or service and why you believe in it.
After brainstorming what your message is, think about your mission and vision statements. If you’re working for a large corporation, these statements might already be defined. Are you following these statements? Are they still reflective of what your team believes? Does it need to be changed to reflect what the real message and vision for the company is?
Think about the human element in everything that you do in relation to establishing who you are for consumers through branding and marketing.
In a saturated market where everyone is competing to be noticed, the key to being successful is, well, just being real.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Marketing and Content Strategist
I strive to create engaging content for a target audience in a way that combines impeccable writing skill and style, creativity, and a smart content strategy to drive business success. I enjoy combining my art and design background with my understanding of writing and marketing strategies to create unique content that is captivating for businesses, consumers, and readers alike. Continue Reading
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