For any business, securing the brand and creating a positive reputation and exciting customer experience is more important than having perfect products. This idea specifically goes against what many claims should be the sole focus: the product.
By all means, what your business delivers — be it product or service — should be as superior as you can provide. But chances are, you’ve already invested a lot of time and effort into making your product great.
Yet, the brand is what takes the lead in the long term. Look at companies such as Apple, Google or even Microsoft. Tech giants are above your level, maybe, but all of these brands offer a wide variety of products and services. It is, in fact, their brand that takes the most significant share of the cake.
iPhones, iPads and the like are incredibly popular, yes, but that is because their parent brand — Apple — is so renowned, not just the product. For the biggest companies, the branding and products have become so synonymous you almost cannot see the difference. See it or not, however, the branding is what propels them to greatness.
So, how do they do it? What are some secrets you can learn from their success in branding your own business and products?
1. Get Everyone on the Same Page
Rebranding or not, if you don’t have everyone within your organization on the same page, it’s going to be impossible to create a clear, consistent brand image. Executives, stakeholders, employees, and partners all need to be brought on board — that means ensuring everyone involved understands the company’s mission, objectives, and various beliefs.
Employees are especially important, more so in the forward-facing branches of your company. They will be responsible for interacting directly with customers and clientele, so they are the face of your brand. If they seem disgruntled, unorganized or just plain misinformed, it’s not going to look good for your business.
2. Involve Your Customers
Decision-makers on the backend of a company tend to forget the customers’ needs and wants. It’s easy to do because you get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of the business while focusing on maximum profitability. Common or not, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
It’s not that you should tailor your entire business around customer needs or demands, but they do factor into its overall success. If your customers aren’t satisfied in some way by your brand and products, they’re not going to offer you their business.
It goes beyond simply involving them in the branding and message portion —involve them in operations, too. Maybe you could launch an exclusive ambassador program that offers discounts and deals for promoting your products. Invite them to blog, create unique content or even publish reviews online about your offerings. Better yet, reward them for doing so.
By building a relationship and rapport with your most loyal customers, you’re feeding into the overall brand. It becomes part of your business, which is exactly what influencers are meant to be — it’s about a reciprocal relationship.
3. Be Authentic
Don’t over-promise or over-hype. Don’t guarantee if you can’t deliver. And most importantly, don’t lie. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you’re running into difficulties meeting a deadline or product launch, share with the community.
A lot of businesses get by doing the exact opposite, sure, but is that what you want your brand or company to be known for? Authenticity is vital to the positive reputation of your brand, especially when it comes to the human element.
4. Go Above and Beyond
Sometimes, you may not have the resources to truly go above and beyond, but that’s okay. The point here is more about investing your all into the business, every chance you get. It should be an ideal passed down throughout the company to even temporary or seasonal workers.
By building a culture around “above and beyond” you can be sure your customers are always getting the best experience possible, no matter who they are interacting with.
5. Put People First
From the employees who invest their lives in your company to the customers who invest their hard-earned savings, it’s the people who make or break your business. Without them, you wouldn’t be where you are, and your organization certainly wouldn’t be as healthy.
One of the key tenets of How Google Works, according to Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, is that people are essential for creating value. Professionals at their company are directly responsible for coming up with solutions to solve problems, as well as imaginative ideas for new projects and opportunities. It’s telling to see such a large company focused on their people, even behind the scenes.
The B2B world is no exception, it can still be broken down into people doing business with other people, they just happen to work with another organization.
Strong personal branding is built around this idea, that people matter most and that means considering them along every step of the way. Are you providing your employees with ample benefits and time off? Do your customers receive the appropriate support and experiences they deserve? Are your vendors appreciated and treated respectfully? It all matters, and it all contributes to your company’s long-term branding.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
To build a brand and a solid reputation, it takes time and requires unwavering persistence. It also means the process is complicated, and can certainly grind you — and colleagues — down. It’s not easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are a wide variety of tools, professionals and support teams that can help you meet your goals.
Don’t be afraid to look for help when you feel stuck, or when you’re having trouble sticking to the plan. Admittedly, it’s scary handing over the reigns to your business or sharing power, even temporarily, but sometimes it’s necessary. There’s plenty of support out there, and it could be the answer to your branding problems.
7. Invest Appropriately in Your Online Image
Just because your nephew or cousin is a pro at social media, doesn’t mean you should hire them to handle your company’s channels. Your online image is just as important these days — if not more so — than your real-world image.
Invest properly in your online presence, including social media, digital and online marketing, content streams, and more. Make sure everything that’s being attributed to your brand is indicative of its value and mission.
8. Educate Your Target Audience
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling one of the most widely known products ever — the iPhone is a great example. Assume your target audience needs help understanding what it is and what it can do. That doesn’t mean treat them like they are daft, but you should provide them with additional resources they might need, including user manuals, comprehensive guides and tutorials, e-books, video content, and even infographics.
When you have the opportunity, which often occurs in content marketing, share the value of your brand and products. Also, spend time assisting your customers with whatever they might need. Be proactive in your teaching approaches. Help them find the answer to a problem before it’s even a problem. You’ll see that your brand, business, and products will thrive as a result.
9. Have Fun
It seems almost counter-intuitive to the rigid, straight-laced world of business, particularly when you’re talking about suits and ties, but having fun is critical to success. If you don’t enjoy going to work every day, at some point, that’s going to bleed through and show. The same is true if your employees and colleagues feel the same way.
You need to find ways to make work, business life and future events as fun as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “fun” is synonymous with reckless — it’s not. You can definitely have fun in healthy, productive ways that don’t negatively impact your brand.
Consider an employee field or community day. Host events at your business or headquarters and invite customers to attend. Sponsor local events, sports teams, or even other companies. Get out there and interact with the world, all in the name of your own business, of course.
The Conference Board reports that 53 percent of Americans are unhappy at work. Sure, there are likely many reasons for this, but you can bet that a dull, stressful work environment is at least one factor. Spice things up with a bit of fun from time to time to boost employee happiness and by proxy the brand’s positive impact.
Mind the Secrets, Meet With Success
Do your best to incorporate some of the tips or “secrets” discussed here, and you’ll see success in no time. Building a brand or reputation around your business is not unlike building your professional reputation. You must network, get the name out there and showcase what it is you can do. What value do you offer?
By incorporating these elements as part of your company culture, you can be sure you’re creating an environment and organization optimized for prosperity.