40 pointers that offer insight on how to create a brand
Branding is becoming increasingly important in a world where we all have a need to connect and feel a sense of community. We would like to share with you what we believe are important steps towards creating and maintaining a brand. We also think that branding is important for forging better relationships with your customers and contemporaries. Below are some tips that we try to follow and that we think you might find useful.
- Exhibit some personality. Let your customers relate to your business. Don’t be a faceless, generic company.
- Create unique content that is informational but also visually appealing - videos, pictures, animations.
- Keep your branding focused and consistent. Make sure that all blog posts, tweets etc are identifiable as your business. Don’t keep changing the style of your content and make sure from logo, to stationary, to newsletter, that your branding matches.
- Create a community. This is important as it will allow your customers to interact with your business and others. A good way of implementing a community is by adding forums, Q and A sections, blogs and social networking.
- Become a destination site that people want to visit. You can do this by adding useful content, a fun user interface and community features.
- It is all about the customer experience once they reach your site. Your site should effectively promote your branding, be easy to navigate and should be helpful / useful.
- Great customer service is one of your key branding staples. If you offer a great service, people will return and will learn to love you.
- Make your customers feel special. Offer personal touches. Coca Cola have just done this with their ‘personalised’ drinks bottles which feature 150 of the UK’s most popular names.
- Keep it simple. Don’t go over the top with elaborate logos, longwinded mission statements or complicated navigation.
- Think about who your customers are and what they might actually want from your brand. Brainstorm and split your customers into sections such as ‘small business’, ‘blog owner’ and think about what these specific customer’s requirements might be.
- It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Networking, building relationships and swapping skills on creative projects are all worthwhile. Partnering / collaboration with creatives can be beneficial for both parties.
- Social media is obviously a prevalent way of getting your branding out into the world. Twitter, facebook, Google + and pinterest are pretty much standard as social networking platforms for most businesses. There are lots of other networks that you can get involved in such as LinkedIn (on a more business level), Tumblr, Foursquare and Instagram.
- Keep in touch with your customers. Interaction isn’t a once a month task, it’s an ongoing ritual of building those relationships.
- Remember that in a heavily saturated market, good branding is very effective. Make your brand stand out from the rest and have a unique selling point.
- Creating a character / mascot for your business often works well (example: Roger at SeoMoz).
- Interacting is probably the single most important aspect of creating a brand. Brand loyalty is extremely important and is often dependent on building relationships through interaction. This can be anything from social networking to newsletters and feedback forms.
- Do not rely solely on stock images. They are extremely generic and do not ‘sell’ the personality of your brand.
- Remember that visuals don’t just equate to infographics. They have been popular for a while but they are not the be all and end all.
- Create a tool that is relevant to your industry. If you can create something useful and free, this will resonate with the customer and with those working in your niche.
- Do your market research. Find out what customers think of your brand. Is it working? What can be improved? Short surveys with incentives are good for this or simple feedback forms.
- Implement a live news feed into your e-commerce site. This has been utilised brilliantly by both fab.com and Firebox.com. It helps customers feel involved / part of something and the website and brand is forever evolving.
- Reciprocity - if customers are going to give you their loyalty / custom, give them something in return. Freebies work well for this but knowledge and communication can be just as effective.
- Build great content. There are no two ways about this. Boring, nonsensical, rambling articles, newsletters and guides will be ignored. They will add no value to your brand, your customer or your rankings. Only publish something you would want to read.
- Invite customers to contribute by submitting product / service ideas or pictures of them using your products. Reviews and testimonials aren’t the only way that users can have their say.
- See what others are doing. Subscribe to newsletters of sites that you think do branding well. Take notes, learn and implement any strategies that you believe could work for your business. This is not about copying; it’s about taking inspiration from others and compiling ideas.
- Allow comments on your blog or under your products using a comment script. Let people start conversations about your products.
- Reward points and incentives are a way of recognising customer loyalty and rewarding them for it. People often visit retail outlets specifically because they have loyalty cards there and this reiterates the brands favourable image.
- Be adaptable - marketing trends, social networks and the level of competition change all the time. Don’t rest on your laurels, be always ready to launch something new or make the most of the current situation.
- Streamline the registration and checkout pages on your site. Nobody wants to negotiate massive forms that ask for your marital status and fax number. Keep it simple and don’t lose their interest.
- Produce content that you are passionate about / interested in. It is much more fun to write and your enthusiasm makes for better reading.
- Don’t just write - promote. Use social networks to your full advantage and if it’s a really good piece of content, contact influential people in that niche who may be interested in re-tweeting / mentioning your work. Waiting for people to come to your site on their own accord after all of that work is counterproductive.
- Answer questions on your blogs. What do your customers ask you frequently? What would you like to know yourself? Find out the answer and write a piece about it.
- Include all members of staff in your marketing efforts. Let them tweet, brainstorm, write blogs. Make the most of having lots of different perspectives at your fingertips.
- Keep up with the latest trends by subscribing to influential marketing blogs. You can also sign up to newsletters by authors in the industry or magazines such as Marketing Week.
- Timely opportunities can crop up occasionally. Keep an eye on the news especially in your niche. This can help you come up with very current content and you can capitalise on the interest in that subject at the time.
- Be relevant. Don’t post a load of blogs about ice cream when you’re a car sales business. The occasional off topic interesting post now and again is ok but relying on content outside of your niche probably won’t appeal to your customers.
- Be transparent. Don’t hide your shipping prices until people have gone through the checkout or add VAT on at the end. Unwelcome surprises after going to the effort of filling in registration forms are not going to give a great impression to your customer.
- If you are going to do an ‘About Us’ page, make it interesting. Every brand should have somewhere on their website that explains who they are and what they do. This very often appears on the home page, if not in an ‘About Us’ section. Keep it simple and concise. If you can add a bit of personality to it, do. Pictures of happy, smiley team members can be effective too. Although, don’t make it too cheesy.
- Support a cause, feature local artists / producers, start a campaign. Contributing, giving something back, helping others is a great way of genuinely doing a good deed. It also helps build more relationships and will get people talking about your brand.
- Build trust. This is incredibly important. Brand loyalty has to be based on trust. Don’t let your customers down, be honest and communicate.
We hope you enjoyed reading the above and we would love to know what you think about these tips. Also, if you would like to share what you have tried and what worked the best (or worst) for you, that would be great. Drop your comments below.
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