(And how to ensure that consumers perceive your brand the way it was intended to be.)
By Jessica Alex
When you think of a ‘brand’ what first comes to mind? For some it’s a logo, but a ‘brand’ is much more than that.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, your logo is an important piece of your branding. It helps with making your brand more distinguishable and can boost your brand recognition. (For instance, when you see the dark green mermaid logo with a crown, you automatically know it’s Starbucks without seeing the name written out.)
However, your logo is just one piece of the puzzle. Your brand is a combination of what you put out into the world (i.e. your brand values, messaging and visuals) and how people define or identify your brand. The latter often wins out, so it’s important to find alignment between what you intend, and what consumers perceive.
For example, let’s say you own a brand that wants to be considered as a “luxury brand” –– that’s great as long as consumers perceive you to be luxury as well. What if you are trying to convey the message of luxury, but consumers perceive your brand to be “cheap, poor quality”? Not only will that mean a disconnect between you and your target audience, but it also would mean a lack of sales because your luxury price point doesn’t match with how consumers perceive your brand. Why would people pay premium pricing for poor quality?
How can you avoid such dissension?
Consistency with your brand elements
When you’re building a brand, there has to be consistency. Consistency between your values, your messaging and your visuals. If there is a disconnect between these three parts of your brand, it will spill over, from your product design to your marketing initiatives. And this will lead to consumers being confused.
Solution: Take time to create a brand guide – and actually use it. 85% of companies have brand guidelines, but 70% don’t reference it (Source: Marq 2021, formerly Lucidpress). Can you see the problems arising here 😬? Without a compass, your brand may end up being led astray. And depending on how many people are on your team each person may have a different interpretation, which could mean your packaging gives off a different message than your website, your website is disconnected from your social media, and your copy is on a completely different planet. So use your brand guide to bring all of your brand elements together, and use it as a compass or a guide for your branding and marketing initiatives.
Consistency with what your brand values – publicly and privately
It’s also very important, especially as a conscious brand, to have consistency between how you present yourself publicly and how your company operates on the backend. For example, perhaps you desire for your brand to be considered “sustainable and eco-friendly,” but behind-the-scenes you engage in wasteful practices and unfair labour practices. Not only would it be a PR nightmare when it’s revealed how your products are really made, it could also mean the loss of thousands of customers.
Solution: Review and verify that your operations matches your brand values. If it doesn’t, look at adjustments that can be made to get up to speed. For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand shipping out your products using bubble wrap – it’s time to look at more eco-friendly materials to package and ship out your product. Although you only make first impressions once, consumers can appreciate honesty and growth, so be sure to share how your product or processes have improved.
74 percent of customers say transparent communication has become even more important after the pandemic (Salesforce, 2022).
Consistency with what your target audience expects
Consistency also means in how you show up. People are faced with daily responsibilities –– and daily distractions. This means, you are not going to be top of their mind all the time. So consistently showing up and keeping your level of quality (products, customer experience and service etc.) the same will keep you top of mind, and in a favourable light.
Solution 1: Keep your customer and user-experience top of mind. Does your website need to be more user-friendly? Your SEO is important for search rankings, but what happens when people land on your site? Is it such a pain to navigate? Does it have too many mixed messages on your site? That will affect how people perceive your brand and it will affect your bottomline. The same goes for how you treat your existing customers. Do they feel heard? Are their concerns being met? Is it easy to purchase your products or services? Is it easy for their questions to be answered?
94 percent of consumers say how a brand treats its customers influences their decision to buy from them (Salesforce, 2022).
Solution 2: Create a content calendar (and stick to it). A content calendar can help you map out in advance what you’ll be posting and where (e.g. select social media platforms, website blog, newsletter etc.) and you can connect it to issues that matter to your target audience and brand values. For instance, July 3rd is International Plastic Bag Free Day. If your brand is about sustainability and eco-friendliness, it would make sense to post relatable content to this special worldwide initiative.
If customers are the heartbeat of your business, your brand is the soul. It’s what makes your business real, it’s what gives it life. It’s not something that you worry about prior to launch and then leave it on the back-burner. If you don’t work on consistently cultivating and conveying what your brand is, someone else will, and it may not be what you want it to be.
Need a consultation to discuss your brand and how to take it to the next level? Book a complimentary clarity call.