Create a Brand for the Digital Marketplace [PART 2]
In my last article, I brought up the importance of your brand presentation in the digital marketplace. The requirements of your business, and your brand, have changed as digital media channels have proliferated. Your brand presentation needs to be consistently recognizable in all media channels, including the new and evolving online channels. Now is the time to review your brand to ensure it is both strong enough and versatile enough to represent your business in the omnichannel world.
Here are several fundamental brand concepts for review.
1. Create an Authentic Brand
What do you want people to immediately recognize as “you” when they encounter your brand? Your brand image starts with your product and product category. Products and services in the same category may have very different brand images, even though the products are similar. You must be able to define how your product or service is different from your competitors and why your customers choose your brand. Are you competing on quality, price, or service? Do you have a unique offering, or perhaps a standard product delivered in a unique way? Do some investigating and develop an understanding of your customer and your competition, based upon market research and evaluation.
To the consumer, your brand will be based upon what really exists, not what your company aspires to be. Your company needs to be able to deliver on all brand messaging. Today’s online channels fully expose your business and your ability to make good on your brand promises. Social media and online reviews can help or hurt your business so take the time to honestly assess your company’s competencies and weaknesses.
2. Make Personal Connections With Your Customers
Consumers are looking to connect with businesses that have a personality and that reflect their values. You need to know how your customer thinks and what they care about, because this is what their buying decisions are based upon. Are they looking for safety, prestige, convenience, or some other need to be filled when making a purchasing decision in your product/service category? Really understanding your target audience will help you make personal connections, stay in tune with their needs, and help you continually provide them with great products and services.
Marketing is moving quickly to one-on-one marketing and your customers want to be reached in the media channels that they prefer, with messaging that is relevant to them. Review your media messaging and visuals to provide a consistent and recognizable brand each time you connect with your audience.
3. Consistently Provide Value and Benefit
In today’s economy consumers are looking for both monetary value and tangible benefits. They have the opportunity to compare your pricing and read reviews of your service online, so everything you provide is up for review. Offers and promotions should be consistent and you can use cross channel opportunities to create convenience for your customers. For example, an email offer with a coupon to use in your store, or the ability to place an online order and pick it up at your retail location. Your brand is created by the customer’s experience every time they come in contact with your brand. Your challenge is to keep that experience the same high quality every time, in every media channel. To keep your brand consistent, consumers should experience your company with the same look and feel on your website, in your physical space, on social media, etc.
4. Digital Media Channels Control Your Brand Image
Consumers now use online channels for the majority of their media communication. They will most likely have their first experience with your business online and your website will often be their introduction to your company. This means people are coming to your website every day to see who you are and what you offer, making your website a major brand channel. Is your current website is up to the important task of presenting your company brand to customers and prospects?
As consumer choices and purchases become more online driven, social networking and online communities are giving consumers the power to shape your brand. By sharing their experiences with your products and services they may have more influence over your brand than you do. Consumers are turning to each other for information they can trust. It is important that your brand is authentic and encourages consumer engagement.
5. Brand Communication Requires Enticement
Online media channels will continue to move forward at a rapid pace, replacing the old ways of customer communication. Traditional media is now used to push consumers to online media where there are a multitude of online communities using the internet for information, socializing, and communicating. Consumers use a business’s online media channels for saving time and personal convenience. If your company can provide services to do that, you can then move on to creating a positive brand experience and a loyal customer.
You are now in a two-way conversation with your customer and your online channels are where this conversation takes place. This gives your business the chance to learn from consumers about what they want and how they want it. It also puts the responsibility for delivering your product/service to them in the way they prefer. Business can no longer just interrupt consumers with brand messaging, they need to entice consumers with information and offers that meet their needs.
6. Your Brand Must Evolve Along With Your Business
Customer loyalty is not what it use to be. With big box stores, online shopping, and a mobile society it is harder than ever to have long-term customers. Still, it is easier to make a sale to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So focus on developing loyal customers by delivering exceptional quality (in products and services) at every touchpoint. Long-term customer relationships require your business to evolve with changes in culture and community. Demographics are changing, consumer expectations are higher, communication channels are evolving. Accommodating changing consumer demands may be a challenge for some companies, from both a structural and a cultural perspective. Have you made the changes necessary to align your brand with today’s consumer needs?
7. Update Your Brand Now!
I will repeat my broad and sweeping directive that right now every business needs to revisit their brand. Why? Because your business has grown and it is very likely that your brand does not represent your business today, and the new digital channels require a flexible and versatile approach to brand presentation. You can read Brand is Back! for more on that, article here>.