I’ll admit it: I’m a smug consumer. Apparently, so is the rest of the world nowadays.
With a vast range of options and instantaneous decision-making, it’s normal for employers to decide whether or not you’ll be hired for a job based on whether or not you use proper caps in your job resume and cover letter.
My friends and I regularly make decisions whether or not to purchase a product, sign up for a service or class just by the way a website looks.
Why’s that? Because first impressions matter. Some would say that they more now than ever before.
With the dawn of the digital revolution has come instant decision-making. No longer do we spend minutes deciding which website to go to or which brand to buy from. Our decisions are now limited to seconds.
What can you find out about a brand in seconds, you might be wondering? A better question would be what can’t you find out about a brand in seconds?
However, there is also a strong argument for the slow build and what a developed culture can do for the brand your business creates.
If I say Apple, Google, Comcast or Tom’s Shoes, for instance, there are immediate ideas that come to mind, whether they are of negative or positive quality. These ideas - whether developed over a long period of time or instantly determined - are the perceived brand of these companies.
Your brand isn’t what your company looks like to you - it’s what your consumer thinks it is.
We get it. Money for branding is hard to come by for small businesses and everyone and their grandmother is clamoring for it.
We believe that you can’t not afford to invest in professional branding and that it’s one of the most vital things to succeeding in your business.
So breathe easy. You might be surprised how far your money can go when you know which direction to aim it towards.
1. Esthetics (They Say What Your Words Don’t)
Your online business esthetics include your web design, images and logos. They say what a thousand of your words cannot say. How can your consumer trust your judgement in product creation, sales or service when your web design says the opposite of good judgement?
Along with web design, consider the esthetic quality of your business cards and invoices, mailing pieces and even email formats. The human eye is drawn to orderliness, clean lines, simplification and above all, beauty.
Professional branding helps you appear in your best light and attract the audience your business deserves.
Building a solid brand takes time, but you can expedite the process by investing in branding that makes your business memorable.
The logo, tagline, name, team and CEO behind the brand all work together, but if they’re standing behind a boring, easy-to-ignore company or brand, all of these elements are just a waste of time.
Consider Richard Branson’s stream of Virgin companies. He often didn’t have a gigantic marketing budget, but he still gave some of the biggest brands a run for their money and at times beat them just by standing out, doing some crazy things and being memorable!
3. Logos That Connect
A logo that resonates with customers will allow them to be more passionate about the brand and what it represents before and after they have a positive experience with our company.
In addition to creating a visually-appealing logo for you, branding professionals help design it in a way that resonates with your target audience.
A company’s brand defines how a customer feels when experiencing it. Our five senses are accosted every time we walk into a brick-and-mortar salon or approach consumer goods.
If just one thing doesn’t smell, look, feel, sound or taste right, the brand image is gone. To truly exceed expectations, you need to knock your consumer’s socks off in all five categories.
As an objective third party, branding professionals can help you with elements you might be missing, fix details of your atmosphere that might be off, and enhance your customer’s experience by integrating aspects you’ve probably not considered.
5. Core Values
The core values a company lives by (not just shares in the occasional memo) are representative of the spirit of the company.
If the spirit of the brand has been infused into everything it does, the majority of the sales process has been done before a rep even speaks to a lead. Spending time on those values and helping the company live them pays off in spades.
The story behind the brand is the most important. It’s not only what people understand about your brand, but also what they can pass along to others through word of mouth.
If your brand has a clear story about solving a real problem, it becomes relevant to people and something worth passing along.
Branding professionals are skilled at pulling your unique story out and highlighting in everything from your web copy to your customer service style.
7. Customer Service
Zappos built a brand based on its ability to provide customers with exceptional satisfaction, even when sales went to a competitor.
A great brand is one worth talking about, and that means great customer service so buyers know they’re getting their money’s worth.
How do you explain the person who pays thousands of dollars more for a Harley rather than buying an equally well-made (and less expensive) motorcycle?
Harley Davidson uses emotional branding by creating a community around their brand. They began HOG -- Harley Owners Group -- to connect their customers with their brand (and each other).
By providing their customers with an opportunity to feel like they're part of a larger group that's more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson positioned themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase not just a bike, but also a lifestyle.
Research from psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary describes this need in their "belongingness hypothesis," which states: "People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior."
The best thing you can do to fill this need is to connect with your customers on a highly emotive level. What kind of emotions can your brand convey in a straightforward, potent way?
Do you give them the feeling of relaxation? Do you make them feel like royalty? Do you make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive club or tribe? Are you a gigantic breath of fresh air to them or a lightening-bolt of energy?
Emotional triggers are one of the most important aspectsof professional branding, because loyalty comes when your audience associates your brand with the feeling it gave them.
If your company has more questions about professional branding and why it is important, contact us today for a brief consultation to answer all your questions.