Essentially, your brand is how people feel about your company, which is one of the most powerful, make-or-break sales tools at your disposal.
The creation and management of a recognisable brand is something that can – and should – be a priority for every company, irrespective of size or budget. Why? Because the reputation of your brand is what persuades consumers to choose you over your competitors.
Building a successful brand requires perseverance and company-wide buy-in. It involves:
- Defining and developing buyer personas
- Determining business goals
- Creating targeted, disruptive content
- Investing in visual content
- Gathering outside opinions
1. Define and develop your buyer personas
Being clear about who you’re targeting and who’s buying into your brand is one of the most important first steps in securing a good reputational foundation on which to build a brand.
How to develop buyer personas
- Are your core, target demographic groups accurate?
- Are you clear on your customer wants and needs?
- Do you understand your buyer’s journey?
Once you have identified your key audiences through owned data (for example, lead qualifying questions and website analytics) and by gathering insights from the likes of social media and questionnaires, you should develop characters or personas that embody the traits of your customers.
The better you know your potential and existing customers the more likely you are to be able to communicate with them in a way that resonates. And as we know, evoking emotion in your customers is one of the most impactful ways to develop a successful brand.
2. Determine your business goals
Attempting to build a brand image without a clear idea of your short and long-term business goals is pretty pointless.
Be sure to build a set of SMART business goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) that map out a direction towards which all business activities should point.
Alignment and consistency inside your company walls will help to guarantee clarity of message outside of your business.
3. Create targeted, disruptive content
Your content marketing must be targeted towards your buyer personas, and tailored towards each of your target demographic groups.
The single most important factor in developing a successful brand is to create content that your audience actually wants.
How to create disruptive content – and why it’s important
Disruptive content changes customer perception with regards to your company and your industry. This powerful content offers something different, and encourages the formation of new associations with new products or services.
Take Red Bull for example. They create content about ‘pushing life to the limits’ and extreme sports, not about their drink. What may have been considered a risky move in focusing on a subject other than the product itself has resulted in the successful development of new associations and feelings towards an energy drink brand.
Taking risks to evoke feelings is essential, and Richard Branson agrees:
“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be.”
If done well, disruptive content can drastically transform even the strongest of perceptions. Look at a company like HubSpot that was ranked so far down on Google for its offering (marketing software products) that it was barely visible. But a highly-strategic, organised and disciplined campaign, based primarily around blogging saw them hit the No 1 spot where they remain today.
And whether it’s tech firms like Microsoft (‘Microsoft Stories’) or surfing companies like Rip Curl (‘The Search’), employing storytelling into your content can turn your brand from a company that makes things into a club that people want to be part of.
To create disruptive content, start by auditing your marketplace and assessing what your competitors are doing. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and then tailor your communications to offer a solution or perspective that your competitor has missed.
4. Don’t forget visual content
It can be easy to think of photography and imagery as secondary to text when it comes to creating content.
But the fact is that in a world of information overload, visuals are now as important (and occasionally more important, depending on channel) as the written word when it comes to communicating your brand message.
How and why you should invest in strong visual content
Content with images gets 94% more views than content without images. In addition, people are likely to remember just 10% of information after three days unless that information is paired with a relevant image. If it is paired with a great image, people can retain a staggering 65% of the information three days later.
The secret is in selecting strong, relevant images to accompany written content and grab the attention of your target demographic early on. Images should be able to stand alone in conveying a message as well as working to strengthen the written or spoken message you are communicating.
If budget allows, invest in a photo shoot with a great photographer. The creation of your own, original imagery is the best way to build a brand.
However, if you can’t quite justify your own photo shoot yet, there are plenty of great stock imagery sites such as Pexels and Unsplash that offer great quality, free images.
5. Garner opinions from outside your company’s walls
One of the best ways to assess and monitor your brand is to obtain the opinions of people from the outside looking in.
It is so important to understand how your brand is perceived by people outside of your company’s walls because they are representative of the wider consumer market.
It’s easy for you and your team to explain what you believe your brand is all about but this isn’t a true reflection of its actual reputation. Seek unbiased and unconditioned opinions.
How people really see your brand could be surprisingly different to how you intended them to perceive it – and this is something you need to know.
Branding that works for you
What really matters when it comes to transforming a brand from bland to billion-dollar-business is that you look for ways to delight your customers and go beyond expectations.
Understand who it is you’re dealing with and then do something unexpected and disruptive.
This is what makes your customers remember and eventually fall in love with your brand. Because there’s nothing more valuable than the ability to evoke feelings in your customers.