One of the biggest buzzwords among marketers, businessmen (and women), and communications professionals has to be “branding.” But what goes into an awesome brand? Clearly it’s not that easy or everyone would have a booming business – but where does one start?
The answer might be more obvious than we think: us. In recent years our consumer economy (especially over the Internet) has become almost completely driven by consumer choice and product service variability. We are used to being able to choose what we want and have many options, and guess what? We like it that way. Otherwise there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of different options to sheath your iPhone.
Keeping that in mind, here are five steps for building an awesome brand.
Only Be As Big As You Can Afford
The great thing about an emphasis on consumer preference is that there is less of a need to be “the one, the only, the best!” As a matter of fact, people like small-time, niche products. It makes them look cooler, or more hipster, or whatever. So don’t worry about having a storefront, just have a clean website that is easy for people to navigate. Websites like WordPress and Weebly make it easy.
Be Willing to Have a Conversation with Your Consumers
In the past it was corporations that did the talking, but now, we are able to talk back. The best kind of brand is easily accessible and wants to hear from their customers. After all, it’s customers that keep them in business.
Referring back to tip #1 – engaging has never been easier with Twitter and Facebook. Small boutiques around the country even offer special treatment to their Foursquare mayors.
Since you have been listening to your audience and hearing their compliments and complaints, it might be a good idea to adapt your goods or services so that they better serve the consumers. People love to feel that they have been heard and that their business is important.
Pick a Tone and Stick with It
One of the biggest mistakes brands make is not having a cohesive voice. When we engage with a brand we want to feel like it is a person, and not a person with multiple personalities.
Here’s an example – most people would describe Jet Blue as being the “friendly, cool” airline (they have purple LED lights!). However, when you look on their Twitter account it reads like a corporate voice mailbox. It is surprising that they do not have a more youthful and laid-back web presence, considering the physical feel of the airline.
Give People Options
Some people prefer to talk on the phone –they don’t care how long they have to wait, that is what makes them feel comfortable. Other people (like myself) would rather chat online with a customer representative so that they can continue to multi-task. There is nothing better than going to a website that gives you more than one option.
For instance Bluefly, the popular designer retailer, gives us the option of chatting via instant message, calling their phone number, or sending an email. Some brands take it a step further and invite you to talk to them via Twitter or Facebook.
Branding is a word that is given way too much credit. What it should really be called is “if I were my audience, what would I want?” Thankfully, we live in a society that has blown past letters to the editor – now we can actually talk to the editor (they are probably on Twitter).
Renee is currently pursuing her Master’s in Media Production with a specialization in Audiences and Brand Management.
Photos by Adam Crowe & TechSavi.