Lynn Manternach/Tree Full of Owls
Why do your customers choose your product or service over other options?
Hopefully it’s because of your brand.
Ad agency founder Jim Mullen once said, “Of all the things that your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest. Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. Brand loyalty is the only solid foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth.”
Your brand lives in the hearts and minds of your customers and your prospects. It’s what they think when they hear or see your name. Your brand is based on a wide range of experiences and perceptions, some of which you can control and some of which you can’t control.
Consumers have more control now than they ever have before, and they’re a lot more demanding than they used to be. They are informed, vocal and have the technology to blast their opinions far and wide. Consumer expectations for brands continue to rise, but satisfaction levels remain steady.
So how do you build the brand loyalty you need to ensure a solid foundation for profitable growth?
Ask why. Why does your company exist? Why does what you do matter? Why should customers care? Why do your employees choose to work for your company?
According to Simon Sinek, leadership expert and author of Start With Why, every company can easily tell you what they do. Most companies could tell you how they do it. But very few companies know – or communicate – why they do what they do.
Why matters. It’s a critical emotional link to your customer. When you understand why you are in business, you understand your purpose. Your purpose clarifies what you and your people believe in. It unifies and motivates your entire team. And motivated and unified team is positioned to deliver a great brand experience consistently, which leads to trust.
Your brand needs both emotional and rational elements. According to Sinek, companies that lead their messaging with why get to the heart of the emotional connection with the brand immediately. It’s a way to differentiate your brand from similar products or services, and a way to connect with like-minded consumers. It clearly separates your brand from others in ways that matter. And it gives consumers a great reason to reward you with their loyalty.
Build trust for brand loyalty. Brand trust has always been important, but it is especially important in the current economy. Cautious consumers tend to choose to buy from businesses they know and trust.
Effective brand building includes building trust and developing relationships. You do that by communicating what customers can expect if they choose to do business with you and then making sure you keep that promise. Every time. No exceptions.
Your promise must be relevant to your customers and potential customers, and the message must be focused and consistent. The goal is to provide an overall brand experience that the customer feels is worth repeating.
Effectively delivering on the brand promise is very difficult to do on a daily basis. But the benefits of getting it right are huge.
The brand experience matters. A great brand experience starts with a great product or service, but it doesn’t end there.
If you can find ways to make a simple transaction connect with a customer on an emotional level, you’re on the right track. Go the extra distance to meet and exceed customer expectations. Make sure everyone in your organization understands their role in delivering a positive customer experience.
A successful marketing campaign may drive new customers through your doors, but if the brand experience doesn’t meet their expectations, they won’t be back.
If your company can consistently exceed customer service expectations, people will notice. Some of those customers will tell friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers. Those recommendations are worth a whole lot more than the marketing and advertising you pay for.
Your brand has the potential to be your company’s most valuable asset. Focusing on building the brand provides a wide range of benefits – benefits that ultimately contribute to the bottom line.
Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. (www.mindfirecomm.com) in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. Contact her at email@example.com.