Category Archives: Branding

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.

 

Disruption vs. Innovation: Is There Really a Difference?

disruption

The last 5 years have been the hey-day of disruption. We’ve seen Airbnb turn hospitality on its head, Oscar rock the health insurance world, and Snapchat change the social media game forever.

But what makes what these brands have done any different from what you do with every product launch or new service you offer? Is it not just innovation – but on a bigger, further-reaching, more lucrative scale?

For sure, innovation can be successful and profitable, too, but disruption isn’t just about dollar signs or fancy new offerings. It’s about changing the very landscape it operates in.

Different Sides of the Same Coin

Think of it like this: A disruption is always an innovation – it’s new, different and never been done before. But an innovation? That’s not always a disruptor. In fact, very few ever are.

Simply put, innovation is change. Now, usually this change is a positive one – something that improves an already existing product or service, or one that makes things better, easier, more convenient or more affordable for the end user.

A good example is the Keurig. While not a game-changing disruption, the Keurig was certainly an innovative step up from the old Mr. Coffee of days old. Instead of being forced to brew a whole pot, risking 5 cups of precious black gold getting poured down the drain, caffeine lovers could use the Keurig to get a quick, one-cup fix. It was simple, effective and a big improvement in the convenience arena for most users.

But was it a disruptor? Definitely not.

A New Game

A disruptor literally changes the game. Depending on the industry, it may alter how business is done (think of how Uber changed the way transportation services are called, priced and even paid for), or it could change how customers in the industry think and behave (like how Snapchat makes users more apt to share private and sensitive photos, because they know they’ll disappear in just a matter of seconds.)

Basically, disruption takes a current market (or a technology or industry), and replaces it with a different one – usually a more efficient, effective and faster one.

There’s also a large amount of destruction involved in disruptions. In order to create a new landscape, the disruptor first has to tear down what already existed – making those products, services or even the entire industry it operates in a moot point.

It might be a hard pill to swallow for non-disruptors in the sector (and a costly one as well), but in the end, disruption usually means a better product or service on the whole. And if others can catch up, that’s good for everyone involved – especially the customer.

Are You Disrupting or Innovating?

Both disruptions and innovations can propel your business forward, but if you really want to make an impact on the marketplace (and eliminate any competition), disruption is the only way to go. Want to make sure you don’t fall victim to unforeseen disruptors in your industry? Check out my last post on protecting yourself from disruption – and becoming a disruptor yourself.

 

Disruption Interruption: How Your Brand Can Do It

disruption

We’re living in an age of disruption. Companies like Uber and Lyft turned the transportation industry on its head, while artificial intelligence is doing the same for the brick-and-mortar retail world.

It’s a time of change and growth. And the only thing that’s predictable anymore is that nothing is predictable anymore.

For business owners, that can be pretty scary. It basically means that no matter how long a brand has been around, how much business it’s done or how much it’s loved by customers, there’s no longer a guarantee of success.

At any time of any day, someone – or something – could come in a change the game, and all past assumptions go out the window.

So what can you do?

Do you just sit back and wait for the impact? Or is there something you can do today – right now – to help protect your brand for potential disruption?

No matter what industry you’re in, lying down and rolling over for the new guys isn’t the right option. Here’s what you can do to stave off disruptors and protect your business in the age of constant change:

  1. Don’t want disruptions to catch you off guard? Then try to predict them. Put together a team of your most creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers, and ask them to simply brainstorm. What are the craziest things that could happen in your industry? What amazing things – if there were no financial, geographical or technical boundaries – would they want to see your company do or produce? Tell them the skies the limit, and see what they come up with. Odds are, even their most far-fetched ideas are already in the pipeline somewhere on the globe.
  2. Tune in. Stay apprised of what your market wants. That includes what they want from you and your products, as well as just what they want in business, love, and life in general. Find new ways to deliver on these desires, and evolve as the market demands. Better yet, evolve before the market demands. Give your customers what they want, before they even know they want it. (Great ways to tune into your customers: social media, surveys, interviews, polls, focus groups, customer think tanks.)s
  3. Disrupt. If you don’t want disruptors to hurt your business, become the disruptor yourself. Be the one who takes your competitors down a notch and catapults your industry to a new level that customers never imagined. Hire innovators and thinkers who can push your products and services to the limits, and never be satisfied with the status quo. Work outside the box, kick conventional ideas to the curb and don’t ascribe to it-worked-before-it-will-work-again model of business. Make constant evolution a mainstay of your organization.

You never know when disruptions will hit, so start taking steps today to protect your brand from potential disruptors in the midst. Need help? Want to be the disruptor in your industry? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

How to Traverse Today’s Changing Marketing Landscape

marketing

Marketing tactics are more diverse than ever. Hyper-targeted and interactive, nearly every method connects directly with the consumers, allowing them to be just one step away from a purchase.

Unlike the days of yore, marketers no longer have a clearly defined role. They don’t just simply create an ad, post it in some predetermined space and wait for consumers to inevitably see it. They have to work for it. They have to seek out customers. They have to find the target buyers and reach them directly.

This can make marketing anything incredibly difficult – whether you sell shoes, software or some sort of service. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain.

Are you trying to traverse today’s unsteady marketing landscape? Not sure what to pour your money into? Here’s what to do:

  • Power up with data. Learn as much as you can about your customers – their buying habits, their interests and finances, and more. Use this data to segment your efforts into the most granular level you can. You want to deliver a message that is targeted as much as possible, so you really speak to each customer’s individual needs and wants.
  • Forget keeping your marketing department in silos. Your web team shouldn’t be working separately from your print folks or your cold-calling sales reps. Integrate all your marketing efforts and interweave your digital and physical strategies. They should work together and play off each other, not operate in isolation.
  • Test and learn. No matter how much research you do, sometimes marketing efforts just don’t work – or they don’t work as well as you’d hoped. Set up A/B test versions of all your campaigns, so you can more easily spot what works and what doesn’t. Keep tweaking until you find a strategy that really resonates with your target audience.
  • Get creative with content. Not all marketing has to be done with ad dollars. Use content to attract new customers and sell more products. Social media offers a great platform for this, as does a blog. Developing relationships with journalists and media members can also help.

Are you finding today’s marketing options just a little overwhelming? Don’t throw your money blindly at every new strategy that’s out there. Let Haley Brand’s marketing experts help you determine the absolute best path to success for your business. Contact us today to get started.

 

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.

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.

 

How to Increase Customer Loyalty Through Your Branding

brand ambassadors

Good branding doesn’t just help increase leads and bring in new customers. In fact, it’s actually best at improving the loyalty of existing customers who already know about your brand, have bought from you and have used your services.

Now I know that doesn’t sound as exciting … the same old customers? Don’t you want new ones to improve your profits?

Actually, there’s a lot more money to be gained from a passionate, loyal following than just a bunch of newbies. For one, they’ll buy from you again and again – that means no advertising costs, no sales pitches, and no added expenses. Just regular income from them month after month or year after year.

They’ll also become your biggest brand ambassadors. Without any payment, they’ll start shouting your name from the rooftops, getting their friends and colleagues to love your brand too. You can’t get much better than that!

So how do you make this happen? How do you increase loyalty with existing customers simply through your branding? Here are a few simple ways:

  1. Give them an experience. Your customers should experience more than just an exchange of money and goods. Make their experience memorable. Make it easy, fun, helpful, valuable and anything else you can. Get everyone from your sales team to your customer service specialists on board, and create a consistent level of care and service that customers can learn to love and rely on.
  2. Make a human connection. Sure the web makes everything easier, but there’s something to be said for human connection, too, and don’t forget that. Whenever possible, add personal touches to your customer experience to make buyers feel more at home. Reach out with a personalized thank-you email, call them up and make sure their purchase is up to par, or check in a month later to see if there’s anything you can help with.
  3. Get to know your customers. Take time to find out what your customers like and don’t like, need and don’t need. Then use that information to tailor your brand exactly to them. Add them to an email list specifically aimed at buyers in a certain sphere or positions in a company. Direct them to landing pages that address the unique challenges they’re going through. Use their first name when they call for customer service or email your team for help. Make them feel like a part of your branding – not a victim of it.

What has your branding done for you? If it’s not encouraging repeat business or turning customers into outright brand ambassadors, you’re doing something wrong. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more.

The Ultimate Online Branding Checklist

social media

Branding is no longer just the logo and colors you slap on your products or hang from the walls of your trade show booth. While these physical pieces of branding are still very important, they only account for a very small portion of your overall branding strategy.

The bulk of your branding? In today’s world, that’s found online.

It’s your website, your social media accounts and your email campaigns. It’s everything your customers see when they search you on Google or research your products on the web.

So take a minute to look at your online presence. Is it branded properly? What is it saying to your potential customers? Is it selling them on your company or making them run for the hills?

Go through this checklist and make sure your online branding is up to snuff – before it’s too late:

  1. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website. Your website is going to be your first touchpoint with customers, so make it one to impress. Your site should be sleek, professionally designed and, most importantly, easy to use and navigate. Confusing menus or overly complicated designs are just going to turn users off, so keep it simple and beautiful at every turn.
  2. A well-honed voice. Just like your customer service reps have a voice on the phone, your brand needs to have a voice on the web. It should show off your personality and values as a company, and it should carry over through everything you do – your website, your social posts, your email newsletters and more.
  3. Matching social media accounts. On the web, your brand needs to have consistency so your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social accounts fall right in line with your website. They should share the same logo, have similar design schemes, and the same voice.
  4. Online customer service. The service you deliver is a big part of your branding too. It’s what makes people feel a kinship with your brand – what keeps them coming back for more time and time again. So don’t slap a phone number on your website and call it a day. Invest in online chat functionality, install web contact forms, and make getting in touch with your team a breeze. Don’t forget to also have the right staff in place to manage those contact funnels. You don’t want long queues or angry customers.
  5. Good calls to action. What’s the point of pulling in customers online if they’re not converting in some way? Make sure you have a call to action on every point of contact with a customer on the web – a product to buy, an ebook to download or at the very least a contact form to fill out. The more you interact with a customer, the more chances you have to impress them and draw them in for more business.

Want more help with your online branding? Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today. We’re here to help.