Category Archives: Brand strategy & positioning

5 Actions that Build Brand Trust

brand trust

Today’s tech-savvy consumer doesn’t buy from just anyone. With all the options out there and the ease with which one can compare prices, read reviews and study up on brands, there’s no need to settle for a less-than-ideal brand anymore.

Customers can have their cake and eat it, too.

It’s this stone-cold buying approach that makes brand trust even more crucial than it has been in years past. As a brand, trust is what can put you above a competitor in a customer’s eye – even if your price points are higher or your products are a little bit different. It’s also what can keep a buyer coming back for more, time and time again.

Do you know how to build brand trust? Here are 5 actions that do it every time:

Providing value.

Today’s consumer is wise. They don’t want their time wasted, and they know full well there are other brands that can give them what they need if you can’t deliver. Want to keep them around? Give them value at every touchpoint. Stop using your blog to promote your latest sale, but instead show your buyers how to style the clothes they buy from you or install the software you sold them. Forget flooding their inboxes with ads and spam, and send them rewards money or coupon codes. Deliver something useful to your customers, and they’ll repay you with repeat purchases and brand advocacy in spades.

Going live.

Nothing is more transparent or authentic than a real, live interaction with someone. That can mean showing up to a trade show, answering phone calls or even using Facebook to live-stream some behind-the-scenes footage of your brand at work. Show customers you’re real, you’re here, and you’re part of their world.

Being raw.

If you want people to trust your brand, you have to build it up as a friend or confidant for your audience – and that means breaking down those corporate walls and getting a little more “real” with customers. Now that doesn’t you should mean forgo the copyediting before posting a Tweet, but be a little freer when communicating with your audience. Don’t always pump your latest product or shove sales jargon down their throats. Speak to them like you would a peer, and they’ll do the same for you.

Showing outside evidence.

Telling customers you’re great is one thing, but other people doing it? That speaks volumes more. Build up a network of strong brand advocates and ambassadors who will tout your brand in their circles. Solicit reviews on Google, Yelp and other review sites. Give rewards for those who provide you testimonials, and share Facebook reviews and satisfied customer Tweets to show off the real, authentic feedback you’re getting from buyers. Let their words do the work for you.

Ask for feedback.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard – even happy, satisfied customers. Make an effort to reach out to customers new and old, and get their feedback on how you’re doing and what you could do better. Poll followers on Facebook and Twitter, send out email surveys or gather customer focus groups to solicit their thoughts. You want them to trust you? Let them tell you how to make that happen.

Earn their Trust.

Brand trust doesn’t come easily. You have to earn it. Want more advice on how to do that? Let Haley Brand Intelligence guide the way.

 

What Makes a Loyal Customer?

brand loyalty

Long-term business success relies on customer loyalty.

Though one-time purchases will certainly put money in your coffers, it’s the customers who buy from your brand time and time again that will really help you reach your financial goals – and beat out your competitors.

But cultivating loyal customers – and their repeat purchases – is easier said than done. In fact, according to recent data from Facebook, there’s a lot that goes into building a long-term customer relationship, and much of it is pretty intangible.

Let’s take a look at what that means for you.

 “Loyalty is Thriving and Rooted in Emotion”

People don’t become long-term, loyal customers with their pocketbook. Sure, they like to save a buck here and there, but to really want to come back for more?

They have to love it.

According to Facebook, people who are loyal to brands “prioritize more emotive and experiential qualities, like trust and service.” That means they don’t just want to get their order fast or get the best deal; they also want to feel like they matter – that the brand they’re doing business with cares about them, prioritizes them and, maybe, even shares some of the same values as them.

So how do you do that?

  • Over-deliver – Don’t just meet the bare minimum when it comes to customer service, communication or shipping. Over-do it. Beat your delivery deadlines. Go above and beyond when contacted with a question or order issue. Provide multiple points of contact to make sure customers have what they need at every step of the way.
  • Focus on the experience – A great product isn’t enough to cement a long-term relationship. A great experience is. Think holistically, and give your customers a good experience from start to finish.
  • Follow-up – Don’t just deliver an order and be done. Follow up, and make sure they were happy with their delivery. Check in, and see if they need anything at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever other holiday. Stay top of mind however you can.
  • Tailor – One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for cultivating loyalty. If you want long-term customers, you need to tailor your messaging at every touchpoint you can. Want parents to frequent your restaurant? Make sure they know about your high chairs. Need Millennials to make your hotel hot? Get social, and post about your community service events on Facebook.

Who’s Loyal?

Any customer can become a loyal one, but there are some subsets that are a bit harder (and easier) to reach.

Millennials, for example, are actually twice as likely as Baby Boomers to want to be brand-loyal. But unfortunately, there are some serious barriers to making that happen. With grocery stores, they’re 2.5 times more likely to consider a store’s hygiene level as a barrier to loyalty, and with restaurants, a lack of healthy options makes them twice as hard to make a loyal customer. They’re also harder to snag loyalty as a hotel, airline and auto insurer.

High-income earners, on the other hand, are actually an easier get. People who have a household income of $150K or more are actually 32 percent more likely to be brand-loyal. Parents are also more likely to be loyal than non-parents – especially in more experiential product lines, like hotels, airlines, etc.

As I mentioned before, if you’re hoping to snag one of these demos as a loyal customer, just make sure you tailor your efforts toward their needs. Do market research and find out what their hurdles are. Customize your marketing copy, ad campaigns, email newsletters and more, and make sure you’re connecting with them on a personal level.

Loyal = Long-term

Brand loyalty is where the money’s at, so if you’re hoping to see long-term success as a business, invest some time and resources into cultivating a loyal customer base. Both your bottom line and your customers will thank you for it.

 

Happy Native Advertising Year!

native advertising

If you’re thinking of using promoted Tweets or Facebook stories, investing in PPC ads or creating advertorials in 2017, you’re in luck: This year is primed to be a banner one in the native advertising world.

While 2016 was the year marketers and advertisers started using native ads on a widespread level, they were still just getting their feet wet. This will be the year native advertising really blows up, and organizations and their employees will realize the true power and potential that native ads offer.

Are you already using native advertising techniques at your company? Do you want to start using them (or expanding on them) in the new year? Here’s what you can look forward to over the next 12 months:

  • Facebook and in-feed videos will expand – Though most people hate having a video auto-play on their Facebook feed or on a website, 2016 has shown that it’s actually a highly effective promotional tool … as long as the video is muted by default. That means companies are going to start using more videos with text, captions and graphics. Check out Tasty’s Facebook page to see what I mean. You can also expect to see more live and 360-degree videos, which Facebook has made popular as well.
  • Tech will make the biggest difference – Emerging technological tools will allow native ads to be more effective, easier to manage and measure, and more targetable.
  • Mobile will come first – When planning native advertising strategies, marketers are going to take a mobile-first approach in 2017, meaning they will design and test around mobile screens and tech first – not second. Visibility on traditional screens will still matter, but it will be advertising accessed on smartphones and tablets that will really be king.
  • Display advertising will drop – The heyday of display ads is over, and content will become the No. 1 way marketers and advertisers reach their target demos. In fact, this year you can expect content strategy to be the foundation on which all other marketing strategies are built.
  • In-house content will decline – More and more organizations are going to realize that creating content in-house just isn’t as effective or efficient as using a pro or agency. Expect to see more content marketing agencies crop up and for more organizations to keep content retainers with experts who really know their stuff.
  • Native ads will get more entertaining – Gone are the days where content is just meant to be informative. With the influx of content on the web, advertorials, Tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts need to be increasingly more and more entertaining to really get noticed.
  • Content will become better tailored – As the use of ad blocking software rises, advertisers and marketers are being forced to get to know their audiences better – and better tailor messaging to suit their needs. The average user can expect to see more relevant native ads as they surf the web in 2017, as long as marketers do their jobs right!

No one can foresee the future, so these are only our predictions, but no matter what happens in 2017, expect to see native advertising more and more as you browse the web. And if you’re looking to market your company or promote your services, make sure you’re educated on the latest native advertising techniques and strategies. It’s truly amazing what technology can do for connecting company and customer, and the industry is advancing daily.

Get in touch with us to learn more about native advertising or to get help creating a native ad strategy for your organization.

The 3 Facets of Solid Brand Strategy

Brand Strategy

In my last blog, I talked about positioning and carving out a space for your brand’s niche in the marketplace – and within your customers’ minds.

But what exactly is the point of positioning? Sure, in the broader sense, it’s to get more buyers, sales and profits … but more specifically, what does positioning aim to do?

From a brand strategy standpoint, there are actually three goals: 1) to raise awareness 2) to improve consumer knowledge, and 3) to establish an image.

Let’s look at all three:

  1. Raising awareness One of the main intentions of positioning is to raise awareness for your brand – to get people in your target audience to hear about your brand and start to recognize its name, products, services and what it delivers. Though simple awareness doesn’t always translate into a sale, it is the first step in the process. Think of it this way: If a consumer needs a product you sell, how will they ever know to come to you to buy it if they’re not aware you exist? It’s like that old adage, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?”
  2. Improving consumer knowledge The second goal of positioning is to improve consumer knowledge about your brand – to allow your target audience to learn about what your products offer, the benefits they provide, and maybe even the character and personality of your brand. In general, the more consumers know about your brand, the more likely they are to come to it when they’re in need.
  3. Establishing an image Finally, positioning can help establish an image for your brand. This image can be visual (your logos, colors and other graphics) or it can simply be the feelings and emotions your brand evokes. These things work together to endear you to potential customers and make them feel a connection – maybe even loyalty – to a company or brand.

Take a step back and look at your brand’s position. Is it doing all three of these things? If it’s not, you’re selling yourself short. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today, and we’ll ensure your brand positioning is as effective and impactful as possible.

6 Ways to Position Your Brand for Success

brand strategy

In the branding world, it’s all about positioning. Positioning allows you to stand out from your competitors, and it lets you carve out a space for yourself in your marketplace and in your target customers’ minds.

Put simply, it can mean the difference between a wildly successful brand and one that misses the mark on all cylinders.

So how do you go about ensuring your brand is properly positioned? That it will draw in the right type of customers, sales and profits? Well, there are six approaches you can take. Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Price positioning One of the most popular ways to position yourself is with your pricing. This only works if you’re a budget brand, offering deeply discounted prices that your competitors can’t touch, or if you’re a luxury brand – one that offers a sort of panache with its products and services.
  • Geographic positioning Geographic positioning can be a good option if you want to target buyers in a certain part of the country or world. Maybe your umbrellas are great protection for the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe your bikes are primed for off-roading and riding the hills of the Tennessee mountains.
  • Broad market positioning This is an interesting type of positioning, as it requires you to establish your brand as a substitute for some larger-market item. Say you’re selling hot dogs. Instead of positioning yourself as a great alternative to all those other hot dog brands out there, you’d position yourself as a substitute for some bigger, broader market – maybe hamburgers, brats or just tailgating food in general.
  • Psychographic positioning – With psychographic positioning, you’re establishing your brand as the choice for buyers with a certain mindset. They could be concerned with the environment, worried about their family’s safety, or have some other priority in mind.
  • Use positioning – Use positioning is a great choice if you can get creative and think of alternative uses for your products and services – uses that aren’t the “norm” or what most consumers would expect. A good example? Let’s stick with the food example and say you sell mustard. Rather than marketing your mustard as a great topping for hot dogs and hamburgers, you’d instead market it for some other use – maybe as a great marinade for meat or as some type of sauce. You’re basically carving out a niche for yourself by creating a new use that your competitors haven’t thought of.
  • Distribution positioning Does your product or service only work for one certain channel of distribution? Is it only important during one season of the year? Or maybe it’s only useful if you’re at a certain point in life or you have certain weather in your area. By positioning yourself for these specific channels, you can target the right type of buyer and improve your sales and profits.

It’s possible that one, two or even more of these positioning strategies can work for your brand, but there’s always one that offers a bit more potential than the others. Want help determining the best positioning route for your brand? Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to get started.

How to Get Your Team Onboard With Branding

good brandingBranding isn’t just an external effort. In fact, good branding actually starts on the inside – with your employees.

You see, if your team isn’t fully onboard with your branding, understanding and believing in it fully, then it’s never going to be effective, no matter how many marketing and advertising dollars you pour into it.

Your employees come up with your marketing strategies, they interface with your customers, they sell your products and they update your website and social media. If they don’t understand your branding or subscribe to it, how can they translate it properly to others? More importantly, how can they get others to buy into something that they themselves don’t believe in?

Customers are very intuitive, and they know when they’re being lied to or bluffed. And in this high-tech day and age, people are looking for full transparency. If they get the sense an employee at any point in the sales cycle isn’t fully onboard with the brand, they have no problem jumping ship and finding another company to buy from – even if it means more time and energy is required.

Do you want to make sure your branding is being translated properly? Want to ensure your employees are onboard and promoting that branding as effectively as possible? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Make branding a part of your interviews. If you really want to make sure your team is behind your branding, start from the very beginning – before they’re even hired. Talk to potential employees about what your brand stands for and who it is, and get their feedback on your brand’s persona and values. See if their opinions match up before offering them any sort of permanent employment.
  • Incorporate brand training into your new employee orientations. Don’t just train your employees on the basic processes they need to get through the day, spend time talking to new hires about your organization, what it stands for and what you seek to provide the customer. Show them just what your company is all about, and get them excited about sharing that with the world. That’s where great branding starts.
  • Include your employees in branding and rebranding efforts. When establishing your branding or delving into any rebranding efforts, always include your employees – and not just the C-suite ones, either. Get people from sales, marketing, customer service and every department in your company involved, and make sure you’re looking at the organization as a whole – not just one small part or portion.

Is your team fully onboard with your branding? Do they understand your company values and voice? Do they know how to translate that to the customer? If not, it’s time to make a change. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today, and we’ll help make your branding efforts more effective across the board.

 

Using Emotion to Boost Your Branding

Using Emotion to Boost Your Branding | Haley Brand Intelligence

Branding may be a business tactic, but it doesn’t have to be cold and faceless.

In fact, it shouldn’t be. The most effective branding is personal. It’s emotional. It’s human.

This is true no matter what type of industry you’re in – B2B, B2C or somewhere in between – because the person purchasing from you is always human. Whether they’re buying an autopilot for hundreds of government planes or they’re purchasing a carpet cleaning product for their home, they’re a person, and they want a real, human connection with a brand before they do business with it.

Sadly, many brands struggle with providing this connection. They try to remain “professional” and they draw a very clear line between “me,” the business, and “them,” the customer. And let me tell you: The customer feels it.

This distance doesn’t endear a customer to the brand. In fact, it usually sends them looking elsewhere for the help, service or product they’re looking for – and that’s never a good thing.

You see, emotion is one of the key components of a good branding strategy. Not only does it make customers want to buy from you, it also keeps them wanting to buy from you time and time again. It’s what creates long-term buyers and passionate brand advocates – two things every company needs to be truly successful.

So how do you use emotion in your branding and start making those connections with your buyers and potential customers? Here are a few places to start:

  • Know what your customers need. Do serious customer research and find out why they’re coming to you. Do they need help with a problem or issue? Are they looking for guidance? Do they want a product that will better their life in X, Y or Z way? Find out what it is they’re looking for emotionally out of their transaction with you, and start tapping into that.
  • Build trust and security. Make your customers feel safe in your care. Meet their expectations, live up to your claims and always deliver. Don’t let them down in their time of need, and show them they can count on you for whatever – fixing a broken product, helping them make the right purchase or even just sorting out a shipping issue.
  • Include them. A big way to tap into your customers’ emotions is to make them a real part of your brand. Don’t just push promos and sales on your social accounts, but tag customers, post buyer-submitted photos and include them as a part of your strategy. Keep them updated on important brand news and happenings, and loop them into conversations that affect them. Erase that line in the sand between business and buyer, and make them feel like they belong with your brand.
  • Be flexible. Emotional branding sometimes requires changing on the fly, especially as your customers or external situations change. Take the elections, for example. This is the perfect time to tap into your customers’ emotions – maybe their fear of what’s to come or their hopefulness of a new and changing government – and use that to improve their connection to your brand. Again, this requires knowing your customers intimately, so make sure you’re doing consumer research often.
  • Empower them. Everyone likes to feel in control – like they have the power to do anything and everything their heart desires. Position your brand to do just that; give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, and show them how they can do it on their own. Of course, make sure to show them how your products and services can help as well, but put the real focus on them – their abilities to achieve anything they set their minds to.

Are you using emotion to boost your branding? If not, you might want to consider tweaking your strategy. Emotional branding can go a long way in improving customer-brand connections and increasing long-term, repeat buyers. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence to learn more.

 

3 Branding Rules That Are Meant to Be Broken

branding rules

I’m sure you’ve seen tons of blog posts out there about the “rules” of branding. Heck, we’ve probably posted some ourselves over the years!

As much as those rules are important, it’s also crucial you recognize that the rules aren’t all there is. Sure, they’re good principles to go by, especially if you’re new to branding or your company is just starting out.

But like any rule, branding rules are meant to be broken. They don’t all apply to every company and brand, and they certainly don’t work with every type of customer or audience.

The truth is, you really have to get to know your brand, your audience and your goals, and only then can you determine the appropriate way to brand your organization – rules or not.

Let’s take a look at some of the so-called branding “rules” and why maybe, just maybe, they’re meant to be broken:

  1. Be professional. Yes, customers want to know that you’re a resource – a go-to hub for information, services or products they want or need for certain reasons. They want to know you’re an expert – someone they can trust and lean on. But you know what? They also want to know you’re a person – someone just like them, who has feelings, thoughts, dreams and a sense of humor. That’s what will endear you to them and make them feel a part of your brand. So don’t make your branding strategy all about professionalism and business. Develop a brand voice and personality, and show your customers who you really are.
  2. Constantly communicate. Many companies think they need to constantly drive their brand down customers’ throats in order to be effective. In reality, some of the best, most well-known brands don’t do any sort of communicating at all. How often do you see a Google commercial? Are you always getting email newsletters from them or text message promotions? Definitely not. Great branding is more about communicating creatively, effectively and in a way that resonates with your customers. As not all customers are the same, the amount of communication you really need varies depending on your audience. So study them, listen and find the right way to reach your unique customers.
  3. Always provide information. Not every branding effort needs to talk about your products, your services or your benefits. It doesn’t even have to be about your industry or company. Really great branding delivers customers a lifestyle – something they can get behind philosophically and on a day-to-day basis. As such, some of your branding efforts should be aimed at developing this lifestyle – making your customers happy, giving them something to laugh about, or just putting a smile on their face for the day. Maybe that means posting a funny meme on your Facebook, instead of another promo for your upcoming sale. Maybe it means uploading a behind-the-scenes video of your staff having fun at work. Remember, customers want a brand they can feel a part of, so invest time and resources in providing that.

Rules are just a starting point. If you really want to break the mold and stand out as an organization, breaking those rules is sometimes (and often) a necessity. Want your brand to make a splash? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

5 Powerful Brands You Can Learn from

classroom

One of the best ways to learn is to study others who have gone before you, and this is certainly true in branding.

There are millions of brands out there, but only a select few are really, truly successful.

Want to see success like they did? Then it’s time to study the masters.

How did they climb their way to the top? What did they do differently? How can you emulate that? Let’s take a look at some of the world’s best brands now:

  1. Apple From the beginning, Apple has always set out to differentiate itself. Its products never looked like your typical computer (or phone, for that matter), and the company has always been at the cusp of technology – releasing new and unique products before any other brand got to market. From a visual standpoint, Apple has carried this same “uniqueness” through and through. Its simple, white logo has become iconic, and every product released has the same clean, minimalistic touch that just screams “Apple” the second you look at it.
    What can you learn from Apple? That what makes you different makes you special. Call attention to it. Make it your selling point.
  2. Google – Another tech company, Google has become one of the most successful brands in American history. Though it originally started out as a simple search engine, Google now rules the tech world, releasing products, programs and services that help individuals and businesses alike. Their ever-changing logo has become a symbol of knowledge, and the company has now become one of the most reliable resources of information around. They’ve made themselves virtually invaluable to the economy and U.S. business.
    What can you learn from Google? Make yourself a necessity to your customers. Offer them not only products and services, but give them value in return – be a resource for their needs and wants, and you’ll be around for a long time to come.
  3. Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola is one of the longest-standing brands in America. It’s been around for more than a century, and you know why? They’re tuned in to what their customers want. While sure, they’ve expanded their beverage offerings over the years, they’ve stuck to what their audience demands: delicious-tasting soft drinks and sodas.
    What can you learn from Coca-Cola? Stick to what you do best, and do it right. Get to know your customers, and deliver what they want at every turn.
  4. McDonald’s – Though once a simple burger joint in California, McDonald’s is now one of the biggest brands in the world. They serve millions of customers daily, and boast restaurants in more than 100 countries worldwide. The secret to their success? They deliver value. McDonald’s knows there are better burgers out there – but those are expensive, take too long and aren’t as readily available. McDonald’s acts as the antithesis of all those, offering fast, cheap and easy-to-buy burgers on every corner. Sure, the Big Mac may not be the healthiest or tastiest burger in the world, but when you’re in a hurry or short on cash, it’s the most reliable place to get a solid meal.
    What can you learn from McDonald’s? Know what your value is. Do you sell the best part, or the cheapest part? Do you have the best service or the most knowledgeable staff? Hone in on what your customers value most about your brand, and stick to it.
  5. Amazon – Amazon has taken over the world lately. With its Prime offerings, Pantry Box program and even a drone program that can speed up delivery, the brand has become synonymous with convenience. No longer do customers have to brave malls or stores to buy birthday presents, books or even toilet paper. All it takes is a few clicks, a credit card number and you can have just what you need in hours. Though plenty of brands offer fast shipping and delivery, Amazon makes convenience their main selling point – and it’s a formula that’s helped them become one of the most successful brands in the entire world.
    What can you learn from Amazon? Make it easy for your customers to buy from you. Streamline purchasing processes and don’t add a lot of hurdles along the way. The easier and faster they can get what they want, the better.

Want to see success like these brands? Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today. We can help.

 

 

3 Steps to Unlocking Your Brand’s Potential Today

unlock

Want to be a Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola or Apple? A megalith of a brand known all over the world?

Unfortunately, every brand is different, and there’s no hard-and-fast solution that will make one a success over the other. In fact, some even become successes out of pure, sheer luck!

But that doesn’t mean you can only sit there and cross your fingers. While there might not be a secret sauce that can get you from $1 to $1 million in profits in a year, there is, however, a series of steps you can take that can point you in the right direction.

Want to unlock your brand’s potential and get on the right path to success? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Evaluate where your brand is and how far it’s come. Before you can move forward, you first have to know where you are and where you’re headed. On the journey from point A to point B, how far are you? Halfway? Two-thirds of the way? Just getting started? What would be the ultimate measure of success? You should also take a look at how far you’ve come since the beginning. What successes have you experienced? What caused those successes and how can you emulate them again?
  2. Create a path (for all areas of your business) to get you there. Once you’ve determined your marker of success, it’s time to create a roadmap of sorts – directions on how you’ll get there and who will be a part of the journey. Sit down with key members of every department and map out how each area of the business can help drive home your branding and further your company’s goals. Get down to the nitty-gritty details and assign specific tasks, deliverables and responsibilities to all involved and create a timeline. You want the entire company on board – from the mail room up to the CEO’s office.
  3. Implement safeguards and processes. Finally, you need to implement a few safeguards that will ensure your success along the way. Put quality control processes in place, assign people to oversee milestones and goals, make sure performance is being tracked, analyzed and acted upon to give you the absolute best results all the time. You need to be sure all the wheels are turning (at the right speed and in tandem) 24-7 to see success.

Need help getting your brand on the pathway to ultimate success? Let Haley Brand Intelligence help. Our branding experts have helped hundreds of companies climb the ladder of success, and we can help your brand too.