We’ve talked about branding in the digital age and the fundamentals of building your brand online, but how do you keep it growing? What happens when you aren’t sure about the next step? Luckily, we have a few tips on how to keep growing customer trust and improving brand experience without feeling stagnant.
Your brand is a living, breathing thing, and even more so now that your customers have more touchpoints with your company than ever. This means that your customers expect a lot more from you, and if you don’t live up to their expectations, you can easily lose the interest of a prospective customer as well as those who have been loyal to your brand.
In addition to brand transparency, your customers want to know that you care—about them, their values, and the future. To continue to build your brand and establish relationships with your customers, consider these seven tips for branding success.
1. Engage with your customers.
Don’t be one-sided. Talking at a brick wall is boring for you, and it’s boring for your customer. Open up conversations and engage with customers. Listen to them and adapt to their needs and wishes. A brand is not just a logo or a product; it’s also the reputation and perceived value from your customer base. Customers notice when you don’t interact with them.
Example: How about how Slim Jim grew their account by hiring a super fan to take over. I still cry from laughter from the unexpected interactions.
2. Stay relevant but appropriate.
This is a tricky one! If you’re paying attention, you should know your customers better than they know themselves. You should know what they care about. If you need help solidifying who your customer is, market research can help you create customer personas and take the guesswork out of who you are talking to. Taking an interest in what they like and care about will help them feel that you really care about what they value.
Example: Keds has an iconic shoe, but how can a shoe be iconic throughout the decades? Founded in 1916, it has evolved through collaborations with brands such as Kate Spade and Rifle Paper Co. with a focus on female empowerment.
3. Don’t treat your customers as numbers.
While leads and conversions are ultimately what pays the bills, you are doing your customers a disservice if you think that they are just walking moneybags. People often pay a premium for a brand that they believe in, so make them feel appreciated for choosing your brand. If you do an effective job of marketing but don’t care about customer satisfaction after the fact, it can lead to a situation where a lost sale was probably better than dealing with the fallout of an angry customer—which can make you lose even more.
4. Invest in your employees and culture.
Your best brand ambassadors are your employees. Cool culture bleeds through, and when employees are not passionate about the company, that can lead to a transfer of feelings to the customer. Every person you invest in internally is another chance to spread the message about your amazing brand. Attracting exceptional talent can only grow your brand. Make the workplace somewhere where your talent can grow and thrive.
Example: Here is a list of a few companies that are empowering their employees. While this is not a one-size-fits-all list of what to do, it can offer insight on ideas you can incorporate into your own company culture.
5. Believe in your values.
Staying true to your brand also helps create a cohesive product line. This is your north star to why you do what you do. It’ll also help build trust with your customers. If you continually do things in line with what they expect, it will help you make those bold decisions that are right and identify those that are a bad fit for you and your customers.
Example: Social justice is an important part of the landscape right now, and according to Forbes.com, 60% of people and 78% of those aged 18 to 34, expect brands to take a stand on racial justice. It’s also widely perceived that staying silent is no longer acceptable.
6. Own your mistakes. And learn from them.
Look to the future and where your customers are going. This should be a journey, and it’s important to evolve and adapt. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the same thing or doing whatever everyone else is doing, that is no way to beat the competition or to keep your brand growing. Focus on what makes your brand stand out and embrace it. No one is perfect and despite the best planning, sometimes things aren’t received as well as initially planned. Apologize, learn, and move on.
7. Read the room.
This is a big one…PLEASE don’t forget to read the room. Listen to reviews. Don’t get defensive. Try to understand the root of the problem. If people don’t want to engage with you, that’s a problem. If they are going somewhere else, there is a reason why. This goes back to engaging with your customers but also taking the time to self analyze and understand feedback. It’s great if you want to adapt to reach a broader audience, but sometimes with adapting comes alienation… and then you find yourself on one of these lists on the Internet for eternity.