In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, building a strong brand is critical to attracting and retaining customers. As the unique identity of your company or product, your brand consists of more than just a name, logo and color palette. It also includes your company values, your brand promise, your social media voice and more.
Getting these right is critical because a strong brand allows a company to stay competitive in its industry, increase customer retention, and command a higher price for its products or services. So how can you become a brand that customers love?
1. Identify and communicate your brand’s values and mission
A clear sense of mission or purpose can help make decisions within your company and differentiate it from competitors. It can also help you attract like-minded customers and employees. I’ve found that the best brand advocates tend to align themselves with brand values. I remember speaking to the CMOs of one of the largest beverage companies in the world, and learning that they didn’t have to pay for influencer marketing campaigns. This is due to the fact that influencers volunteered to get behind the brand because of its values and mission.
Let’s say your mission is to make financial services accessible to younger consumers and other investment newcomers. To define your brand’s values and mission, consider your company’s unique strengths and what sets it apart from your rivals. You may have financial advisors who can explain complex concepts in easy-to-understand language and make recommendations that give novice investors a sense of confidence. Your website can be packed with informational content that makes the stock market a less scary place and empowers customers to invest on their own.
Use your brand’s values and mission as the basis for the language and message that appear in your marketing materials. Stuffy Wall Street jargon doesn’t match your mission and values. Speak in terms your customers can understand and address them as a confident but level-headed friend will.
It’s just as important to communicate your company’s mission and values internally as it is externally. This way your employees can align their work with these principles. When employees embrace your company’s mission to bring financial literacy to the masses, it will affect everything from the inclusive copy your marketers write to the welcoming tone of your customer service representatives.
2. Prioritize customer satisfaction
Providing excellent support is crucial to building a positive brand reputation. It’s hardly rocket science: Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a company to others, while the dissatisfied will tear you apart on social media. In every company I’ve been involved with, I’ve always emphasized the importance of taking pride in your service. I’ve seen a marked difference in employee loyalty versus companies that prioritize customer service. Employees seem to naturally want to add value to people as it can give them a sense of self worth in their position.
Customer satisfaction naturally starts with the delivery of the promised product or service at the agreed price. If you can do this with remarkable speed or an unusual degree of friendliness, so much the better. But guaranteeing customer satisfaction does not end there, because mistakes will inevitably occur. Your employees are only human and your business is just as subject to the vagaries of the global supply chain as any other.
When hitches occur, it is essential to respond quickly to customer inquiries and complaints. Customers appreciate quick responses, which show that you value their time. While chatbots are available 24/7 and can solve many minor customer issues, make sure that customers offer multiple channels to engage with your business. Providing email, phone, web, and social media options makes it easier for customers to contact you. This allows them to choose the communication method they feel most comfortable with.
Your goal in these interactions should be to find a solution that satisfies the customer in a timely manner. A brand that is willing to go the extra mile to address customer concerns and make them happy will gain their trust and loyalty.
3. Promote trust through transparency
People are more likely to do business with companies they trust. That is why trust is an essential part of any customer relationship. Building it requires transparency about your business practices. For example, if you are a manufacturer, that means you need to be open about how you source materials. You can support this by earning your industry’s responsible sourcing certification – they exist for everything from agricultural products to concrete.
One of the biggest things to be transparent about is pricing. I have a rule with my sales teams that they have to disclose prices over the phone or in person, then in writing, and also in the agreement. It is a three level approach to price transparency. This includes disclosing any fees or additional charges that may be associated with your products or services. It also means being clear and concise with pricing information so that it is easy for customers to understand. Transparent pricing not only builds trust with your customers, but also helps avoid misunderstandings or frustrations that can arise if prices are unclear. When consumers get what they pay for, and they know how much it is, they are much more likely to come back and tell their friends.
A strong brand, built on a foundation of trust, transparency and excellent customer service, can lead to a loyal customer base and long-term success. But as with most things in business, brand building is not a one time deal. Rather, it is a continuous process that requires regular adjustment to changing market conditions and customer needs. You will need to continually seek feedback on customer expectations of the company and how well their experience matches those expectations. By responding to their feedback, you can continue to improve and maintain a strong, recognizable brand that customers return to time and time again.