Often in the rush and excitement to start “doing business”, entrepreneurs can miss vital steps in building their company brand. While the first items to tackle are usually naming the company and coming up with a logo design, you must also consider the other elements that create your brand.
A brand is more than just a logo. It is a variety of integrated elements that come together and create a unique experience for the user. Consider static features like the product, logo and packaging but also the feeling a consumer gets when they see or experience your product or service. If you create a positive brand experience for your customers, you’ll enjoy continued patronage, not to mention free promotional word-of-mouth from your faithful fans and brand followers.
When you think of highly successful brands like Apple or Starbucks, this usually includes people that are so passionate about the brand, they become ambassadors! They are not passionate about a logo, they have connected emotionally with the entire experience of the brand. When you can connect with your customers and create trust, you have the foundation for a lasting relationship and a solid brand.
ZOO Media Group specializes in the full branding experience, so we understand the basics of building a brand and the nuances that each element can bring to the overall feel for your company. This article will review the key aspects of building a fantastic brand and also the pitfalls to avoid.
The product itself is by far the most important aspect of the brand experience. If your product or service doesn’t live up to expectations, it will leave your customers with a very negative view of your brand. We recommend spending some time perfecting the functional attributes of your product. Once the product is well-designed and efficient, it’s time to review the aesthetics of the item and how things like colour and shape will affect the user experience.
If your business is based on a service, the same important aspects apply. You will destroy the whole brand experience and any chance of future customer referrals if your service levels are poor and you do not meet deadlines. When you provide a service experience that is memorable -- from the client’s initial contact with your company, up to and including the final sale – people will notice. Always under promise, and over deliver.
Don’t underestimate the customer experience. Many times, a brand is built around the experience and not just the product. Consider the skyrocketing success of Starbucks. Is their coffee really worth 2 or 3 times more than the shop on the corner? Or is it about more than just the coffee? Starbucks created a luxurious experience for their customers when they added leather club chairs beside a fireplace, jazzy music softly playing in the background and your name (not a number) attached to your order. It’s not just the coffee.
Another example is the movie theatre. Why are people willing to pay the same amount to see one movie at the theatre as their whole month of Netflix? Because it’s an experience! As you enter, you smell the buttery popcorn, you can recline in a lounging chair and some theatres have even started serving alcohol. The experience makes the consumer feel special and establishes a connection. Consumers will pay more for brands that offer unique experiences.
The look and feel of your brand experience should focus on the visual identity of your brand. This will include any marketing materials associated with the brand, logo, website, signage, packaging, invoices and even vehicles. Each of these elements must be created in a way that complements all of the others. Make sure that each element contributes to the desired user experience that you are targeting.
Take some time to really dig in and clearly define the vision for your brand. Who is your target market? How are your competitors portraying themselves? What kind of identity do you want for your business? Are you targeting high-end customers or discount shoppers? What type of emotions are you hoping your brand will elicit in potential customers? The last thing you want to do is rush through the brand building process only to be unhappy with the look and feel of your company identity a few months down the road.
Nothing kills a company’s momentum and traction like having to completely redesign their brand. Small tweaks to refresh an established brand after a number of years is one thing. But when a new business launches their brand without spending adequate time to research and plan their positioning and identity, they may end up having to do a complete overhaul and start over with their brand recognition.
Having to launch a new brand could potentially lose any dedicated customers they were lucky enough to secure and all that time, effort and money invested, even if it was a good deal at the time, would be wasted. Put your best calculated foot forward and get your branding right the first time.
Quality brands are all about building trust, strong feelings and recognition. Don’t take your company brand development lightly. Invest the appropriate time and resources up front. ZOO Media Group can help you establish a clear vision for your brand and will develop a cohesive, impactful and professional brand presence that will get noticed, will be remembered and will garner trust for your business.
When investing in your brand, remember you get what you pay for! There are countless businesses that start with a logo designed by their nephew or from a discount online design site. If you start with something that you are ultimately not happy with or if it does not convey the true brand you’re trying to build, is it worth it?
A brand is so much more than just a logo design. When you hire a professional, experienced brand development agency you can rest assured that all facets of your brand identity are taken into consideration and there will be consistency across all materials and mediums.
Now that you understand the foundations, consider the following when developing your brand.
Decide early on what your business will stand for and then ensure consistent messaging in your marketing campaigns to support this focus. When you consider some very successful brands, you will immediately understand what their one message is.
Walmart stands for value. Apple is known for innovation. Subway is all about fresh. These companies don’t want to be everything to everybody. They understand the value in sticking with a solo message and they deliver on that promise.
While you and your employees might know what an OSS is or what DPI stands for, chances are your consumer doesn’t have a clue. Keep your language simple and accessible when branding in order to receive a favourable response from consumers.
Create a quality product and your brand will start to build itself. A brand that connects with the consumer in a meaningful way will inspire them to share their excitement. There is no better marketing than positive personal experiences! One word of caution — the same word of mouth marketing can sink your company if your product or service is inferior and underwhelms the public.
Pay close attention to the branding of your competitors. Are you focusing on the same things they are? Your brand won’t be effective if it’s just a carbon copy of some other company. Be original in your branding message and people will take notice.
You may think that your brand stands for affordability – but your customers might interpret this to mean “cheap.” If you don’t like what you’re hearing through customer feedback, make some changes to your strategy to better capture your vision.
When you consider your customer’s brand experience, it may help to visualize a funnel. Each level of the funnel brings you closer to your ultimate goal of repeat customers and referrals.
Scroll down to view or click to download Our Brand Experience Funnel infographic.
The top level of the funnel is your first contact with the potential client. This level of the funnel would include things like Google Maps, AdWords, online banner ads, unaddressed flyers, print promotion, radio or TV spots, storefront, billboards, etc. These are often the first way your consumer discovers your business. It’s important to have a consistent identity with your target your audience. The demographic you are focused on will determine what elements you choose for your top level.
Next you have the Engagement/Connection level. Once your potential client is interested, they might examine your packaging in a store, check your website or perhaps visit your showroom. At this stage, you need to provide relevant information. Does your website have clear information presented in an easy to navigate format? Does your showroom include knowledgeable and courteous staff? Do your social networking sites respond to comments and questions?
After discovering your brand and connecting with you, the consumer then moves to the Commitment/Signup level. This crucial step cements a commitment from them. This could be in the form of a booked consultation, a presentation, a leave-behind brochure, an estimate/quote or a subscription to your newsletter or other form of communication. If you hope to achieve a commitment or sale, provide excellent customer service and clear communication during these preliminary steps.
As we move down the brand experience funnel, we are now at the Understanding level. At this stage your superior product or service as well as excellent customer service will serve you well. Consider your contract - is it well branded, detailed with timelines, is there a process and a guarantee? Are you sending a letter or email notification prior to the service, confirming the date, steps involved and what you need the client to do to be ready? Does your team ensure a positive experience; are they courteous, considerate and cleaning up after the project?
They say to strike when the iron is hot. This is a great time to leave behind branded information that could include a thank you letter, a referral program, maintenance tips, warranty information and perhaps even information about additional products or services that go hand in hand with what they just purchased. Depending on your business and the size of the transaction, it may be appropriate to send a thank you card and even a small gift after the transaction. All of these small touches really add to the polished reputation you’re striving for.
We are now at the tip of the funnel and the Potentials Realized level. After you have closed the sale or the “deal” you must continue to provide valuable communication and excellent customer appreciation. Building these relationships will establish trust and encourage a longtime partnership and positive reviews.
You could share a regular newsletter that includes educating existing clients with new products and offerings. Send them direct mail with promotions for customers only. An eblast will allow you to share your company’s latest blog post or provide product and promotional information. Perhaps your business is suited for hosting events for clients and their friends. These could be seminars, demonstrations or a special presentation with a keynote speaker.
Establish a referral program to encourage satisfied clients to recommend you to a friend. This type of sale is always easier because it comes with a form of “pre approval”. The trust that you worked so hard to establish with client #1 will spill over to client #2.
You may also consider creating a feedback survey as a way to let your client know you appreciate their opinion. It’s also one more touch point to keep your company and it’s brand in their peripheral vision.
All businesses — large and small – can successfully build a strong brand around their organization. The key is to understand what your company represents and what consumers will perceive as being unique and of value. If you need help creating a new brand or repositioning an old one? Contact the talented team of branding specialists at ZOO Media Group today and take your brand to new heights!