You’ve had a great idea, so you turned it into an even better, unique product. You thought of a clever name, put the product in a sharp-looking package, and created a logo and tagline. Now, you’re sure your brand is ready to go…
Not so fast.
The visual representation of your product or service is an important component of branding, but the graphic elements are just the beginning of the branding process.
Most key purchasing influences are based on your consumers’ emotional response to your product: her attitudes, perceptions, values, and priorities. A well-developed brand strategy ensures that your customer will connect with your product on this deeper level. To help your target customer understand, appreciate, and become a loyal consumer of your brand, keep these essential strategies in mind.
Customers experience your brand in numerous ways: products, packaging, price, marketing, sales personnel, etc. Each of these contacts or touch-points molds the customer’s impression of the brand. Some of these touch-points are obvious, like product performance, and one-on-one customer interactions. Other touch-points, such as the product manual, monthly statements or post-sales support, may be subtler in their brand effects.
Five essential branding strategies
- Know Your Audience: Your brand identity should be based upon the concerns, needs, preferences, and lifestyle of your target audience. Find your niche and focus on it – don’t try to be everything to everyone. Do your homework, pay attention to the data, and know your target market inside out, by understanding the buying trends and opportunities in your product’s category.Helpful Hint: Look into survey tools like Survey Gizmo to collect consumer information.
- Define Your Story: The building blocks of a compelling brand story include your company’s mission, vision and values. Start with asking yourself the questions, “Why does the world need my product?” and “Why was I inspired to create it?” Resist the temptation to make your product’s story about what’s wrong with other products. “My X product is better than their Y product because it doesn’t do or have Z” Instead, remain positive, and always make sure your product rationale is about what your product does do.Helpful Hint: Write an “Elevator Pitch” for your brand – a 3-minute summary of your business and why it’s important. Practice it, refine it, and share it until your audience starts to enthusiastically share it with others. Then, you’ll know you’ve hit the mark.
- Brand through Association: As you consider where your product should be sold, understand the message of the venue itself. Is it a hip and trendy boutique? A discount outlet? A farmer’s market? The stores you choose (especially at first) are critical, and can set the tone for your brand. If you have a natural product you want your customers to trust, choose a store with a reputation for high standards. On the other hand, you wouldn’t choose to launch a premium brand in an online discount outlet. If you present your product in a venue that doesn’t value the premium quality of your brand, your customer won’t either.Helpful Hint: Identify your product’s top 2 or 3 most important qualities. Match these with the values of the stores that carry your brand, at least for the first 1-2 years.
- Develop Customer Loyalty With Brand Ambassadors: The stronger your brand is, the greater your customer loyalty. The worlds strongest brands don’t just have customers, but evangelists. Brand evangelists champion their favorite brands by enthusiastically recommending them to other potential customers. Word of mouth is one of the most important purchasing influencer’s, and brand evangelists build buzz for your brand out of intense loyalty, and they provide free advertising.Helpful Hint: Utilize social media networks and influential bloggers in your category (ie: children, craft, design, food), to develop brand ambassadors.
- Go Deep, Stay Consistent: Your brand strategy should be clear and compelling to everyone who comes in contact with your product. If your brand is about a new natural product, a commitment to the value of ‘natural’ should be evident in everything you do – the product itself, the packaging, your corporate culture, your education of your customer, and your own personal behavior. Know your mission, Believe your mission, Live your mission. Helpful Hint: Surprise, delight, and impress your customers by infusing your brand strategy into every point of contact including marketing, sales, customer service, corporate culture and personal commitment.