Category Archives: Brand strategy & positioning

5 Actions that Build 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 authentic

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.

Asking 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.

Earning 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.

 

 

 

How to Get Your Team Onboard With Branding

Branding 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.

 

 

5 Steps to Building an Effective Brand

Your brand isn’t just the products you sell or the services you provide. It’s not even your name, your logo or your motto.

Your brand is your company’s personality – how you make customers feel and how you’re perceived as an entity.

It’s an intangible thing that can’t put in a box or even really defined. It means something different for each and every business out there, and if you want to see success as a company, it’s something you should work to hone, build and grow at every turn.

Does your company have a unique brand, or are you just a business that sells products? If you’re the latter, consider taking these six easy steps, and start building your brand today:

  1. Determine what makes you different. What are your brand’s strengths and weaknesses? What makes you stand out from your competitors? Sure, you might sell the same products as them, but do you offer anything that they don’t? Maybe you sell your products online? Or maybe you have better, more comprehensive customer service than them? Whatever it is that differentiates you – no matter how small – use that to define your brand and create a company message to share with the world.
  2. Find the right niche. You’ve heard that old saying about a “big fish in a small pond,” right? Well, that’s what finding a niche is. It means instead of promoting your brand to the entire world and competing with millions of other businesses out there, you instead choose to focus on a small, more tight-knit group of consumers – ones who are more likely to become leads or paying customers, either because of their interests, demographics or another factor. Determining a niche for your business allows you to cut down on the competition and reach more viable, ready-to-buy customers, and it can make a huge difference on your bottomline in the long run.
  3. Be consistent. Once you’ve honed in on your brand – what makes you different and what message you want to convey to the world – be sure that comes through in every other area of your business. It should be heard in your website copy, in your press releases and in your blog, and you should even follow suit in social media and with imagery, logos and graphics. If it doesn’t fit in with your overall message and brand, then step back, re-strategize and try again. You don’t ever want to get confused for your competitors, so always focus on what you do best and the overarching message you’re trying to convey.
  4. Reach your customers on a personal level. Nothing grows a brand more than word-of-mouth marketing – customers sharing their experiences with others, recommending a business to friends and loved ones, and just touting their favorite brands and companies around the water cooler. If you want your customers to help grow your brand, you need to reach them on a personal level and speak to them emotionally. Don’t touch base only when you have a new product or are hurting for sales. Instead, make them feel like valuable, integral players in your company’s success. Answer their questions on social media, make customer service and support a priority, and always go the extra mile to show them that your brand cares.
  5. Measure and reflect. Every once in a while, take a step back and measure the results of your branding efforts. Survey past customers, as well as random participants, and get feedback on your marketing efforts, your website, your social media strategies and more. Use metrics and analytics to see how successful your efforts have been at growing your brand, and if things aren’t trending the way you like, use this time to sit down and make some changes. Though you may not always see the results you were looking for when measuring, it will always provide you with valuable insight to grow and expand your brand even further.

Take a minute to consider your business. Do you have a recognizable brand? One that people can get behind, emotionally connect with and feel a part of? Or do you simply provide products and services? Building a brand may take more work, but the investment will more than pay off in the end. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more about branding and how it can help you improve your company’s performance in the long run.

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. Got questions about your strategy? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

Winning Strategies Focus on the Three R’s of Content Marketing

Have you ever noticed that when you see a McDonald’s, typically you will also see a Burger King? Or when you see a Target, odds are a Walmart is in close proximity? With brick and mortar brands, this is visually obvious, but the same coincidence is true when it comes to online space. Type in the keywords for your brand and you’ll notice that you might appear in the search results, but so do your closest competitors.

A little competition is actually a good thing. It gives brands a benchmark to compare or strive toward. It also provides consumers with choices. That’s right, I actually said that consumer choice is a good aspect of competition. A healthy bit of competition serves as a natural reminder for brands, forcing them to consistently have a gut check, evaluate current positioning and offerings, and push toward product enhancements.

While competition can be great for creating product roadmaps and defining consumer demand, it does make the landscape a bit more treacherous for online content marketers. Have no fear – we have three rules of content marketing that will steer your content marketing efforts toward search results success.

Roulette Anyone?

One of the biggest hurdles for any content marketer is to figure out how to create pieces that are not only interesting but also entertaining. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to make it fun – take it back to grade school and make it a game. Get consumers involved through a game of chance…a game of roulette.

Don’t leave the reputation of your brand to chance but rather make the involvement of your consumers exciting by engaging them in a way that they’ll never be completely sure what they’ll get. Make your message the surprise.

An excellent example of this is the new Doritos campaign, which is aptly named Doritos Roulette. This incredibly creative campaign has chip lovers across the globe rushing to purchase the mixed bag of regular Doritos with a handful of extra spicy ones in order to play the game for themselves. And word is spreading like wildfire on Vine and YouTube as consumers film their games and share their experiences.

By creating something that is fun and engages consumers in such a way, Doritos has established a campaign that is self-feeding with a message that is spreading virally and organically across cyberspace.

Rivalry Develops Advocates

Rivalries are a staple of our everyday lives through athletic teams, hometown cities and our brand preferences. New York vs. New Jersey, University of Texas vs. Oklahoma University, Pepsi vs. Coke – it’s something that is ingrained in our culture.

So why is this the key to content marketing? Glad you asked! These rivalries are key drivers for creating brand advocates. Think of how many times your grandparents preached about the dependability of a Buick as you were growing up or how many times you found yourself buying the maximum amount when your favorite but slightly more expensive brand, Tide, went on sale. Brands can become such a part of our lifestyles that, as consumers, we do a great deal of storytelling in hopes of swaying others on behalf of our favorite brands.

This natural tendency of rivalries helps create some of the strongest brand advocates. As content marketers, it is our job to fuel the fires of rivalry, providing our advocates with additional ammunition and publicly thanking them when they take a stand on our brand’s behalf.

Recognition Is the End Result

Want to increase your brand’s organic reach without spending a fortune? Recognize your consumers. This gesture of recognition often instills a sense of pride and provides a natural motivator for increased word-of-mouth advocate marketing.

You see this in restaurants all the time – a menu board full of sandwiches named after the store’s more famous and/or loyal patrons. Domino’s recently took this cue and created an app that allows customers to not only customize their pizza but also name it, and they can even earn money for local charities when other consumers order one of their creations.

Not only does this give consumers a chance for the public spotlight, it also allows Domino’s to put themselves in a position of charitable giving within individual communities, giving consumers even more reason to pledge their loyalty to the brand and return again and again.

Creating a Game Plan for Your Brand

The first step to any journey is always the hardest. At Haley Brand Intelligence, we’ve helped hundreds of brands create roadmaps for success with their content marketing strategies. If you’re ready for your brand to get into the game, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let us guide you to a winning strategy.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Who Is Your Brand?

brand

A brand isn’t a “what.” It’s a “who.”

It sounds strange, but it’s true. To the outside world, every brand has a voice – a personality with unique values, goals and needs. And it’s those values, goals and needs that help customers determine if a brand is right for them.

Unfortunately, not every brand has its voice and personality finely tuned. This can make it difficult for customers to make a judgment call. What does the brand stand for? Do they value what I value? Can they help me overcome a hurdle or meet my need?

If a customer can’t answer these questions with one brand, they’ll find another brand that’s better tailored to their specific wants and needs.

Do you want to ensure you’re not losing customers due to your branding? Want to make sure customers can glean your company’s values and voice from the get-go? Then make sure you focus on these areas:

  1. Your employees. Your employees control every aspect of your brand. They create the strategies and marketing plans, they design your website and write your brochures, and most importantly they interface with your clients and customers every step of the way. They need to be intimately aware of the branding you want portrayed to the public. They need to feel it, believe in it and get behind it, because in the end, they are your biggest proponents. If they’re passionate about your brand, they’ll make sure others are too, and that can go a long way in business.
  2. Your online presence. In today’s digital world, your website is probably your most important marketing tool. It’s what many customers will see first, before ever going to a store, calling a customer service agent or making a catalog order. Because of this, it needs to be clear and up front about who your brand is and what it stands for. I don’t just mean create a great “about” page, either. Your brand should shine through in your site’s design, all of its copy and imagery, and even in the layout and styling of the pages. These all contribute to your “personality” as a brand.
  3. Your social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media can allow your brand to actually have a “voice” – one that’s not connected to a certain person or face. You can use these platforms to really develop your brand’s personality, with likes and dislikes, a sense of humor and other real, relatable traits that people can grow attached to. Use social media to your advantage, and don’t ever let them fall by the wayside!
  4. Your customer service. Virtually any touchpoint customers have with your employees is a branding opportunity, but your customer service is No. 1. It’s during a customer service interaction where customers can really see what your brand is about. Do they value your money and business? Or do they make you feel like just another sales number? Is your satisfaction important to them? Or would they rather resolve the issue as fast as possible and get you off the phone? Your customer service can either leave people with a bad taste in their mouth or encourage them to go tell all their friends about how wonderful you are. The choice is yours!

Do you know “who” your brand is? Are you showing that brand off to customers in the right ways? If you’re not sure, contact Haley Brand. Our branding experts are here to help.