In today’s crowded online marketplace, branding is important more than ever for your business. Your brand is the a key way that your customers choose between you and the competition. It’s what your business stands for and is a reflection of your entire business. No wonder so much time and money is invested into building “brand value”.
In today’s connected world, however, the way your brand is built, functions and thrives, has changed.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
First up, let’s recap what makes up a brand. Everything you do in business will build or erode your brand. Think beyond logo and advertising; your brand extends to customer service, your premises and most importantly your rep.
Your brand is built or destroyed through everything your business does. More recently, our online world means that more attention needs to be paid to your online “personality” to build and protect your brand. Consumer behaviour has changed and your approach to branding should take those changes into account.
NEW BRANDING REALITIES
Now that a mass of information is easily available online, the way people consume and interact with brands has changed. Your carefully-nurtured brand may now have a life of its own, online, often beyond your direct control. This stems from the ease with which people can express their opinions in a huge range of forums.
The consumer’s interaction with your brand is less linear, and less controlled these days. People used to talk of a “sales funnel” where users travelled a defined journey. This allowed businesses to have greater control over the process. Interaction with customers was more one-way and a whole lot more manageable for that reason. Digital has changed all that. Consumers are now very active online. Feedback can be fast and it can be furious.
Digital has changed the way your customers spend online and the way they perceive, engage and interact with your brand.
This can be both an opportunity and a threat to your business.
AGENTS OF CHANGE
Today’s customer comes from a more digitally-savvy landscape and may show some of these characteristics:
- Shows less brand loyalty
- Influenced by online information like reviews by other customers and influencers
- Researches extensively before buying and is more informed
- Looks for value-add, not simply an offering such as “How to” guides
- Accesses competitor’s offering more easily and actively
- Finds out about your brand, both before and after a sale
- Contributes to a brand’s development
- Can build or damage your brand
- Shows less brand loyalty
- Seeks to reduce risky purchases by researching before buying
- Rewards businesses that consistently answer their needs
- Seeks out new product values such as delivery times
- Tells others about their experiences – both positive and negative
Your brand is still important, but the way customers interact with it has changed. So what can you do to help your brand in this more dynamic yet deconstructed marketplace?
First up, become more digitally-aware as a business. Come up to speed fast if you’re not yet across social media. After all, your potential customers are out there every day.
In the past, most businesses put a lot of resourcing and effort into pre-sales promotions when your potential customers were considering the available offerings. However, digital has disrupted that dynamic to a great degree. It’s said that prospective buyers are at their most malleable when they’re evaluating; that means research is important.
In response, your business could provide more value-add through information about how to use your products (now and in the future) that prospects can access when they are actively comparing. Also, pay attention to what’s said online about your product after a sale has been made. The reason? Consumer advocacy is now a big influencer on your brand.
A brand’s reputation can be easily damaged through bad reviews. Customers can now make their dissatisfaction known to millions all from the comfort of their lounge room. Hmm. Equally, positive reviews and high engagement can catapult even the smallest start-up to stardom very quickly.
Clearly, your brand needs to navigate the digital environment as well as the physical. Here are some factors that may affect your brand, online.
CX IS THE THING
Customers have always been at the top of mind for small businesses. But today it pays to know even more about your customers, particularly how they interact with your business online. Then you can manage that knowledge in a centralised way to help with your overall business strategy. Customer Experience (CX) is consequently a big thing.
In fact, CX is key and should be nurtured carefully. Digital means immediacy. Keep in mind that any online interaction people have with your brand can affect your reputation in an instant.
CONTENT IS KING
Yep, we’ve all heard that content is king. True. Moreover, the content that your business makes ava
The right content adds value to the marketplace and adds to your brand value. It helps with building brand awareness, engagement and may even shield you should things go wrong online.
It may even be an idea to have a dedicated custodian to steer your brand’s content through the new digital economy to help build and protect your brand. Social media is pivotal and deserves an overseer who is senior enough to project your brand values (and protect them) swiftly online.
So there you have it – branding is still very important to your business but how you go about building and protecting it is now influenced by the digital economy.
So next time you’re reviewing your brand and marketing strategies, perhaps it’s best to consider a digital-first, customer-centric approach.