Tip #1: Know who you are.
Think of your company as if it were a human being. Building a unique brand personality is essential to every business.
What is a brand personality? Just like people, each brand is unique with its own distinguishing characteristics. Brand personality is often intangible, exists in an emotional realm and more often than not, is underrated in marketing. A well-defined and recognized persona is vital to a brand’s success because it creates an instant way for your audience to relate to you.
How do you create a brand personality? Right from the start, be clear about who you are, who you aspire to be and how you stand out. Brainstorm your brand traits by creating two lists using both of these headings: “My brand is _______. My brand is NOT _______.”
Clearly define what type of audience you would like your brand to attract. Trying to appeal to everyone is not always good idea. Distinctive brand personalities succeed because they don’t try to be all things to all people.
Image is how the marketplace perceives you; identity is who your really are. The two go hand-in-hand. Focusing your efforts on brand personality first creates the foundation for a well thought-out brand strategy that will not only reflect who you are, but give you the essentials to reach the people you want to reach.
Tip #2: Take cues from the brands that stay on top.
Look at Southwest Airlines, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom and oh yeah – Apple.
Offer your products or service in a unique way – and be consistent about it. Southwest Airlines has always broken the norm with a fun, energetic culture that no other airline can replicate. They are a model of efficiency, offering free baggage service and consistently hiring friendly employees that go out of their way to help passengers. They approach issues such as unassigned seating in a refreshing way by researching it through customer surveys and solving it in a straightforward and diplomatic manner.
Create a strong brand that each individual consumer can trust. Amazon gets a gold star for creating a customer purchasing experience that gets the job done. They accomplish this by offering a range of accessible products, superior search technology, user reviews, recommendations and competitive pricing.
Establish an environment where customers can interact and make connections. Starbucks, the world’s leading coffee retailer, still stands behind its original promise to bring people together through the coffee shop experience – an idea that has been around for centuries. You can visit any Starbucks and get a first-hand look at people talking, doing business and sharing.
Go beyond the typical service experience and make your audience feel special. Nordstrom knows this and practices it in each of their 230 stores around the country. Stories reveal examples of their gracious service – they were once rumored to have accepted a return of tires, even though they never sold them. When the typical Nordstrom employee directs their energy toward making sure the shopper has a positive retail experience, the customer feels valued and is willing to pay more and be loyal.
Develop a smart product that not only helps the customer but also fosters an emotional connection. A long-time leader of innovation, Apple continues to develop products that help us communicate and work better, offering people of all ages, all over the world tools we can also enjoy in our leisure time. They provide a unique retail store experience where learning about their products is the central focus. By enhancing the customer experience, they have increased brand presence and loyalty.
Tip #3: Learn about branding with a visit to the Farmers Market.
The number of Farmers Markets has nearly doubled in the last ten years to a total of 7,175 markets nationwide. Farmers at these markets don’t think about branding in the same sense as traditional corporations. The brand isn’t about the logo. It’s about the presentation and the experience – from clean stalls to fresh produce to friendly merchants. The most successful businesses create an experience consumers enjoy. This approach provides lessons that we can apply to improve the branding of other businesses.
Tip #4: Turn negative online reviews into something positive.
Ever wonder how online reviews actually affect a business? Let’s use restaurants as an example.
Good ratings actually increase profits. Last year, ABC and Harvard Business review reported a stunning statistic regarding Yelp, an online forum that considers itself “the fun and easy way to find and talk about great (and not so great) local businesses.” Data suggests that a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating leads to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue. Restaurants receive a jump in sales after a rating is rounded up. Yelp actually helps drive sales for independent restaurants. Positive ratings don’t neccessarily help chain restaurants, which already have strongly established brands.
Not all reviews are genuine. Virtually anybody is able to leave a review on a restaurant on sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Even chatter on Facebook or Twitter can cause a stir and potentially damage an establishment’s reputation. You should be open, knowing that not every review is going to be genuine. You’ll be able to tell that some minds just cannot be changed. These are extreme cases. When reading reviews, focus on the average, not the overwhelming positives or the underwhelming negatives. This should be the rule for businesses and consumers alike.
So, what do you do about bad reviews? What works effectively is to offer a great product or service, keep your own standards high and treat your customers like royalty. Every business will get bad reviews and it should be part of the feedback loop, which in turn should help that business to improve its overall service and product. There is very little to be gained by getting angry or trying to argue your way out of a bad review.
Make sure you and your staff talk about the reviews your business is receiving. Your brand is a direct reflection of you and the people you employ. Examine what might have been the root of the problem. Make sure your employees are true brand champions so nothing gets in the way of the customer experience. Remain positive and upbeat – not only at your establishment, but online and with social media. Do this, and you may just see those ratings go up.
Tip #5: Take a holistic view of your brand.
Don’t think about your brand in pieces, or just the tangible things like a logo or a website, without looking at the bigger picture.
Your brand should deliver your message with consistency. What response do you want your audience to have when they see your ad, pick up your package or talk to a sales rep? The brand message should be organized, cohesive and consistent — not jumbled or confusing. Taking a holistic view of your brand gives you the proper tools to keep building your brand every quarter, every year, and beyond. It provides you with a voice and persona that you’ll want to keep repeating.
You’re more than just your logo. Your brand should tell your story, and you can’t tell a story with just a few words. It requires all of the pieces coming together to form a picture of your business’s message and personality — such as logo, business collateral, website, advertising, packaging, etc. . Thinking about every component of your business communication together leads to intelligent design decisions that make every piece of the system stronger. This happens by bringing together research, design strategy, business thinking and creative graphics to create and sustain a strong brand that connects to your audience.
Create an emotional tie with your customers. Meaningful design solutions should embrace your business needs and the needs of your audience. When all of the components of your brand are communicating in sync, it reaches your audience on multiple levels and helps deliver a message that they can trust. Building brand loyalty with your audience is the ultimate reward for looking at the big picture of your brand.
Tip #6: How to navigate the social media jungle.
Social media. Invaluable and yet still a great mystery to so many.
For some, it’s a matter of just jumping in with both feet and navigating the waters from there. Others will take a more cautious approach. Either way, learning the basics of the social media jungle and implementing some simple tips is key to harness its power professionally.
A few of the top tips:
Remember your audience. It’s different for each social media outlet.
Facebook. Like-minded people and groups get to know your business and get a sense of your corporate culture and values.
Twitter. By using tags properly, Twitter can also put you in front of people you wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to talk to.
LinkedIn. Participate in group discussions, keep your information current and make smart connections. Don’t say yes to just anyone. Always ask, “Does it make sense to connect with this person?
Be consistent. Being active on social networks involves a time commitment. Nurturing it and participating is key, especially when you’re using sites to promote your business, form new connections and build relationships.
Don’t pat yourself on the back too much! The general rule for using social media professionally is 80/20. 80% of what you post up should be directed at things your audience is interested in and 20% is focused on you and your business.
Tip #7: Build a strong positioning statement.
Every brand needs one. Just don’t get it confused with a tagline or slogan.
A positioning statement is a written description of the objectives for a positioning strategy. It identifies (1) how the firm defines its business or how a brand distinguishes itself, and (2) how customers will benefit from its features.
Taglines are brief phrases created for a product or corporate brand and they last forever. For example: Apple uses “Think Different” and Nike has the famous “Just Do It.”
Slogans are used in campaigns and can vary according to target markets and audience. Changes allow them to remain current and continue to resonate with consumers. For example: Subway’s tagline “Subway, Eat Fresh” and Delta Airlines’ “You’ll love the way we fly.”
Positioning statements must be developed first, before taglines or slogans can even be considered. Here’s a simple way to start building your positioning statement by thinking about the following:
WHAT: the type of company/brand you are
HOW: that does...
WHO: for what audience
WHERE: in a specific environment (optional addition)
WHY: because... (featured benefits)
Let’s use the Enrich positioning statement as an example of this exercise:
(WHAT) Enrich is a strategic design firm (HOW) that specializes in developing branding programs (WHO) for food and wellness companies (WHY) whose products and services enrich the quality of life.
We simplified our positioning statement, by electing to not add the WHERE.
Once you have something down on paper, get feedback. Find out if the message you’ve crafted says enough about your brand and it’s benefits. Don’t be shy about revisiting your positioning statement often to make sure it always reflects your objectives.
Tip #8: Memorable brands are like good wine.
They stay true to their roots and only grow better with time.
Over and over, we’re reminded of this business and branding advice: Successful business is built on relationships. Establish your market niche, persona and experience. Stay true to your brand. Offer a distinctive, quality product. Once you’ve made it to a good place, give back. When you come across a company with longevity, look closely, there’s no doubt these characteristics are in place.
One October in years past, I pedaled my way through Napa and Sonoma with good friends visiting pumpkin farms, small towns and wineries. One distinct memory was a stop at a small, family-owned winery called Grgich Hills, where I sampled the best buttery Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. The experience and the wine stood out, and are still with me today.
Tip #9: The karma of gratitude.
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
Last month, Gretchen and Suzanne had the privilege of attending a workshop on abundance led by Peleg Top. What is abundance, you might wonder? Quite simply, it’s overflowing fullness. The cup runneth over. Abundance is actually a mindset and a way of being that affects everything we do. It’s a state in which you’ve got more than you actually need by far. It’s choosing love over fear, creativity over reactivity and gratitude over worry.
Focusing on what you have and remembering to be grateful for even the smallest things is the easiest and quickest way to reap more positives in both your personal life and in your business.
Not sure how? Click to read the full article for some ways to show gratitude in your professional life.
Tip #10: Take an everyday approach to a better lifestyle.
It usually takes more than a simple resolution.
Resolutions are easy to break because more often than not there’s no effort put into making or keeping them. Businesses don’t achieve success by setting a sales goal, sitting still and hoping for the best. No. It takes hard work. They create a plan, strategize, put it into action and work toward their goal. Approach your 2013 goals with the same diligence and you’re more likely to succeed.
Rather than a making a resolution you won’t keep, try taking an everyday approach to a better lifestyle. Changing your behavior requires you to learn a new way of doing something. Whether your trying to lose weight or save more money, earmark a few minutes everyday to work on achieving your resolution. For example, use that time to prepare a healthy lunch or set a monthly budget. If you don’t set your resolution as a priority, then it’s destined to fail.
Don’t give up when you run into obstacles. No one is perfect. Reignite your enthusiasm by reminding yourself why you made the resolution in the first place. Write it down and post it in visible locations. It also helps to have support from family, friends and coworkers.
People have been making New Year’s resolutions for thousands of years. A quick search online shows that between 75–88% of New Year’s resolutions fail, and most don’t even make it through the first month. Make sure your resolution is something you truly believe in and it will be easier to keep it at the top of your mind everyday.