Gone are the days of the distant businesses, where complaints and comments from consumers were lodged by mail and responses from companies were slow, if they came at all.
The proliferation of social media has made it easier than ever to check the pulse of your customers and create a community centered around your brand. But just what should a brand-centered community look like, and why does that matter? Isn’t it enough to have a snappy name and pithy slogan?
To get an idea of the importance of modern branding practices, it’s critical to examine the things that brands have come to symbolize. The concept is more than just a logo and color scheme, though both of those things still play an important role. (In fact, a memorable color palette increases brand recognition by up to 80% (source).
Brands have morphed into feelings—feelings of trust, recognition, loyalty, and familiarity. Think of your favorite big names and the emotions they inspire. Branding is the reason people become lifelong customers of a company that they trust. It’s the reason designer handbags are seen as status symbols. It’s the reason “Kleenex” turned into a household term for bath tissue.
Why does branding really matter?
As social media continues its meteoric rise and becomes more important on a global communication scale, and as users have an increasing ability to make connections with each other with very little effort, it becomes paramount for businesses to reach their consumers in the same way. The ease of creating personalized news feeds, customized social media dashboards, and curated internet experiences means that it’s harder than ever to reach consumers with the one-size-fits-all marketing tactics of the past. So how do you make sure people want to see what you’re offering? When you build a brand, you need to get granular. You need to think beyond just a logo and jingle.
Here are a few key reasons as to why it’s more important than ever to present a unified brand identity to your current and potential customers.
1. Branding defines your company’s values and sets expectations for your audience.
So you have a logo, a signature color scheme, a distinct voice and style of messaging, etc.—that’s only the foundation of a memorable brand. When you establish your brand’s look and feel, you must also establish expectations for your company. In other words: What can your customers count on you for, other than the products and services you provide? Which social, environmental, or even political causes are they (perhaps inadvertently) backing with their purchases? Do you share their values, and can they trust you to hold true to those values?
In today’s politically-charged environment, what you stand for is just as important as the products you sell. Consider these statistics:
- Around 65% of customers report having been disappointed by a brand’s political stance (source).
- 64% of consumers say they trust a brand more if they share its values (source).
- Around two-thirds of consumers want companies to take a stand (source).
It may seem like a no-brainer to play it safe and restrict your brand to business-only issues, but many consumers expect modern companies to display some measure of empathy and awareness. This leaves you in a tough spot: Do you want to take the risk of championing a cause, or choose to keep your business out of it? Should you affiliate yourself with certain hot-button issues or steer clear of them altogether?
It certainly seems easier to err on the side of neutrality. But, if you stay quiet about issues relevant to your field of business, your customers will take notice: nearly a third of consumers worldwide say that their buying decisions are affected by the words and actions of company leaders. Up to 17% of your customers may walk away from a business that fails to speak on important issues (source).
No matter which route you follow, expect it to affect your customers’ view of your company. This may seem daunting, and in many ways, it is—but making your company’s values known will strengthen customers’ appreciation and trust in your company.
2. Strong branding builds trust and authentic connections with your customers.
Transparency and trust are significant pieces of the branding puzzle. Consider the following:
- 94% of consumers are likely to show loyalty toward a brand that offers transparency (source).
- 71% of surveyed Americans said they trust brands that offer useful information without trying to sell something (source).
A strong brand comes with a strong set of values and an established company culture. Use these existing assets to your advantage! Give customers a glimpse of the inner workings of your brand by sharing employee successes and telling the story of your company’s origins. Storytelling is a critical way to evoke emotions in your audience and encourage them to build a connection with what you’re offering. Use social media platforms to your advantage here—it’s easier than ever for brands to reach out to their customers, listen to feedback, and react in a personalized, genuine way.
To humanize your brand further, offer transparency—even if the situation is tough. If there’s a mix-up, for example, it can be helpful to provide regular updates and check-ins, so your customer doesn’t feel like they’ve been left at the hands of an automated messaging service. Let them know they can rely on you when things go wrong.
Take steps to better understand your customer. Asking for feedback, sending personalized emails, and listening to what’s being said about your brand online are just a few ways to do that. Not only do you demonstrate that you have the customer’s happiness in mind, you start to forge a relationship with them outside of the context of just pure salesmanship. When someone feels like a brand cares for them, it’s easier for them to make an emotional connection (source).
3. Branding creates value and memorability.
This final reason shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s the cumulative effect of the previous points. Everything you do to build your brand’s identity serves to add value to your company. As mentioned before, your business’s branding is unique, and it’s what sets you apart from your competitors. Standing out means memorability, and memorability generates interest, which generates value.
Keep in mind that the value only increases if you keep your message consistent. Consider this: It takes an average of 5-7 impressions before people remember your brand (source). High-quality, consistent brand messaging eliminates the potential for confusion and can help increase your revenue by 23% (source).
When it comes to how you get your message out there? That’s where the power of social media and original content both come into play. It isn’t difficult to think of a humorous, friendly interaction between a consumer and a brand’s Twitter account—the fact that an example popped into your mind at all says worlds about the power of that brand’s memorability. Use that knowledge to your advantage! Every tweet you send out or blog post you write is a chance to contribute to your overall persona and build a brand voice that customers will want to listen to and interact with.
Key Takeaways on Why Branding Matters
The reason all of this matters is simple: Humans are hard-wired to form connections. They want to feel involved, informed, and respected. Consumers know when they’re being coddled or condescended to, and they respond negatively. Successful businesses (both big and small) have tapped into a variety of ways to connect with consumers in order to build goodwill over time and increase revenue. Powerful branding practices encompass social responsibility, credibility, and memorability; all three of these aspects are critical to building and maintaining a healthy customer base.
In the end, how you brand your business is up to you and helps set it apart from your competition. If you’ve established a trustworthy brand, consumers will recognize that sincerity. They want to love your business, and, more importantly, they want to love what it represents. People desire more than just a product—if your business can find a healthy balance between self-promotion and genuine content, your consumers will stand by you.
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