Every businesses goal is to grow and prosper and in order to grow and prosper your business is dependent on consumer behavior. The brand a consumer chooses is primarily dependent on two main factors, how people feel about your brand and the situational factors such as price and availability.
Branding your products and effectively communicating that brand is essential in determining success in marketing and building value for your products and organization. Creating, building, and managing great brands require exceptional insights, great creativity, in-depth analysis and ultimately, a highly focused communications strategy.
While each brand is unique there are certain elements that are common qualities for success. These include appealing to both emotion and reason, they retain the ability to inspire loyalty over time, they demand organization-wide commitment and support, and when managed well they inspire all stakeholders – customers, employees, partners, and the investment community.
In order to understand how to set about your brand communication strategy, you first have to understand the dynamics involved in the consumers decision making, there are all manner of elements that influence consumer attitudes and behaviours. You could have two very similar products and the consumer elects to chooses one over the other based on specific factors, these factors can include, previous experience with the brand, interactions with sales, customer service and other employees, recommendations from friends and colleagues, reviews by reputable sources and advertising.
What is your brand?
Your brand is your voice in a bustling noisy, stream of content; it is your reputation, it is what makes you stand apart from your peers. Your brands goals should be aligned to your company goals. Your brand is defined by how your customers perceive you and how you make them feel. You have to ascertain exactly what it is that makes your company that little bit different from the others, what it is that your company does best beyond from what you sell, what is your unique vantage point with which you can interact with the consumer on a platonic level?
Whatever your unique values are, be consistent about them, repeat the message you are trying to convey over and over again until it becomes second nature to both your consumers and your company, let your brand flourish but above all make sure it is consistent. Consistency will reassure the consumer that their trust in your brand is not misplaced and consolidates your reputation and credibility. Consumers have long memories, if you are sending out a message and retract that or contradict it in any way it will be viewed with disdain by the consumer and irretrievable damage to your brand inflicted.
The main aspect of your brand communication strategy is to get your message across in a way that is heard and ultimately acted upon. Engagement has to be encouraged, customer’s voices have to be heard and answers provided to any queries they may have. The shift to the digital landscape has only further compounded this, businesses and marketers alike are now aware that in order to flourish and prosper they have to embrace the online culture that has swept over our planet. Consumer attention has shifted from TV, radio and print to digital which, while bringing with it a new set of challenges, also opens up the opportunity of real time engagement with consumers and prospects alike. This enables brands to find out what it is the consumer really wants and desires and allows them to quickly pivot their approach to match like never before.
The real deal breaker in this approach, valuable content, hasn’t changed, all that’s changed is the way it is now viewed, shared and digested. The methods of delivery may be varied but the game stays the same. The consumer wants to be educated, the consumer wants to know why your brand is the one for them, why it can make their life easier by doing x, y and z. You have to get to know your customer inside out, understand them, put yourself in their shoes and understand what it is they want, you have to be them. Only by doing so will you be able to start creating relevant, valuable content that will truly make them take notice of your brand, make them remember your brand when they think of a certain subject or experience a certain situation. Consumers habits have changed and businesses have to change with them or risk being left in a chasmic void created by their own negligence.
Building a relationship with the consumer
Building a relationship with your consumer is the same as a relationship in any other walk of life, it is built on trust. Trust that you will build up through the communication of your brands values, ideas and commitments, trust that will be gained by conveying relevant, valuable knowledge that the consumer can use to arm themselves for any future purchases or decision making. The human mind is a complex conundrum, you have to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask yourself, what is it that the consumer really wants? What is it the consumer needs? What is it about your brand that can help fulfil these needs?
It is all about establishing a connection with the consumer and maintaining that connection through trust and engagement. The consumer should be looking forward to recieving the content you have on offer for them; it should offer value and relevance to their lives. Most consumers believe that companies see them as nothing more than money source with no care for their needs or wants once their hard earned has been handed over, while this may be true for a lot of brands, you have to break the mould, you have to prove and show that you are willing to go that extra mile to ensure the consumers satisfaction is appeased. You have to keep these lines of communication open, find ways and methods of regular engagement. Regular newsletters with relevant content, interaction through social media offering honest answers to honest questions, regular blog postings, offering rewards for customer loyalty, these are but a few of the ways you can continue to build your brands communication strategy and reputation amongst your client base.
The shifting landscape
The biggest shift in marketing and communication terms in recent times has been how the internet has grown into our everyday lives; there aren’t many trouser pockets or handbags that don’t have the capability to access the internet and the wave of data it contains. Instead of seeing this as a hindrance to your traditional methods of brand communication, embrace it, see the value it inherits and act upon it. In keeping with the methods of using social media and email mentioned earlier on, this is the perfect platform to reach out to your consumers and communicate with them like never before, this is where you can really build up your relationship with the consumer and really listen and if necessary, act upon what they have to say. We have a realm of possibilities at our fingertips, it would be truly short-sighted and folly not to utilise it to its full advantage.
It is vitally important that your brand content is mobile friendly, recent figures have shown that the world has whole has gone mobile and more pertinently the world is online through their smartphones, a recent survey found that in France 90% use their mobiles to access the web every day, 90%, take a second to digest that, this figure is simply too much traffic to ignore. Juniper research also published a report which estimated m-commerce and online transactions will pass $3.2 trillion by 2017, this is up from an already impressive figure of $1.5 trillion for this year. This only further emphasizes the absolute necessity in having your distribution strategy in line with responsive content. The ability to convey your content across all platforms is imperative.
Any business using the internet, (and even those who are not), should have a brand communication strategy in place when it comes to planning what it is they want to publish in association with their business. This can take the guise of text, audio, video or anything that can be viewed online, remember everything is content. Brand communication strategy rests on the planning, creation and distribution of your content, once you have these three fundamentals in place, your goal then is to gather information from your clients, engage and interact with them in turn building healthy long lasting relationships.
Your consumer base is the life blood of your business, if you are listening to them on a regular basis, really listening, then you will quickly establish possible problems and fixes. You will have your finger on the pulse when it comes to consumer mood and behavior. Once your consumer base realizes that you are supplying regular, high quality content that you will happily engage with them about then you will quickly establish as reputation as a thought leader and raise your brand profile in the process.