Real Social – 4 Keys to Expressing Your Brand Image
There is nothing more important in business than the way in which you express your brand. Not your products, not your pricing, not your supply chain. These aspects are important of course, but without the presentation of a uniform image and a brand expression, that reaches people on an emotional level they are all but useless. People today do business with brands, not with prices. They want to know who the brand is, what it stands for, and what they can expect when and if they choose to do business with that brand. Here are 4 ways that every business can ensure that they are presenting their brand in a way that will be accepted and trusted.
Saying that your marketing needs to be creative is about as philosophical as saying that you should carry an umbrella when it’s raining. It’s just a given. However, some businesses think that they need to take creativity to an extreme in order to stand out. That’s not always the case. In fact, if your business competes in a field where over-the-top marketing campaigns are the norm, simply scaling back your creativity can become more creative, however counterintuitive that sounds. Standing out in the crowd doesn’t necessarily mean being the loudest or most colorful. Sometimes it could mean being the simplest and most straightforward. Analyse your competition’s brand image and their customers’ reaction to it. Then decide how your own brand image can stand apart from them. If a room full of people are screaming, you might get more attention by whispering.
The expression of your brand is going to be an expression of yourself, to some degree, if you have any input at all. What are your personal values? Do your brand values match up to them? Does your brand image express those values, either directly or indirectly? Be honest about what values your brand should emulate, and then make sure that any branding exercises reflect those values. The internet has made brand transparency a must. If you say one thing and do another, it doesn’t take long before the whole world knows it. It’s also much easier to stay consistent when honesty is a driving factor, and a consistent brand image is vital. If you’re inventing a set of values out of thin air and changing them as the wind shifts, at some point you’ll get caught in the tangled web.
Speaking of transparency, much of that comes from the rise of reviews and review- based sites. Millennials trust online reviews and recommendations from friends more than anything else, and they don’t really trust advertising much at all. We can debate whether review sites are in fact advertising, but they don’t care about the semantics. That’s why online reputation management is so important to your brand’s image. If you aren’t consistently proactive about your online reputation, the masses will decide who your are for you. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole cart as they say, so make sure that you are monitoring and responding appropriately to any and every review, tweet, or comment that could threaten to damage your reputation.
Managing your reputation is a part of engaging with people, but it shouldn’t be a reactive exercise only. It’s a social world now, so engage regularly with social media on behalf of your brand. Get out of the old-school concept that engagement is all business. Like and share posts from your followers. Leave a comment that doesn’t promote your brand and encourages or compliments the poster. Be real. But doesn’t that take a lot of time and effort? Yes indeed. Which is why social media only really works for those that jump in head first. A half-hearted effort will get you pitiful results. A wholehearted effort will almost always yield a positive brand image.