Building a Strong Brand Customers Identify With

“Focusing on the core of your brand – and staying committed to that focus – is the key to building a strong brand.” – Denise Lee Yohn

Irrespective of the size of a company and the industry within which it operates, it is critical to build a strong brand customers identify with and are happy to be associated. While there are a number of ways build such a brand, the most important thing for customers is top class customer service – this is what defines and differentiates a brand from the others in the market. As mentioned, there are other factors that customers may consider when associating and staying associated with a brand, it is customer service that proves to be the biggest advantage. It makes sense therefore, for a company to build a strong brand that aligns with the needs and expectations of the customers and meets the needs of the business too.

It is important for companies to understand the connection between a successful business and a strong brand customers identify with. Keeping this as the focus, a company must build its strategies such that its earlier successes continue and enhance with time. Building a strong brand is not just about the logo or the perception of the company’s business in the ‘outside world’. It is about creating a business that would define itself such that it would attract customers, the best talent, and other stakeholders. A strong brand exudes the values, culture, and focus of the company – it becomes synonymous with all that is right about the company in the true sense. The fact is that the customers of today are not gullible – they have access to enough information and can easily perceive an ‘honest and robust brand’ from one that is simply trying to charm its way to increasing sales for the business, without really having any value.

What building a strong brand customers identify with also means is the creation of something that customers feel emotionally connected with and can see an alignment of their own values and beliefs. This in turn would lead them to stay loyal, buy more, advocate the brand to others, and even not be price sensitive for the brand, irrespective of similar products at lower prices in the market. Not only does the brand get free publicity and reach, it is also able to sustain its growth margins irrespective of the market conditions. When the brand’s customers believe in it, there is little that can keep it from being successful. What steps does your company take to ensure it is building a strong brand customers identify with?

At the outset, it is important to define and clearly express what the brand is about – what it stands for. Defining your brand also means that your company has conducted enough research to know which needs and concerns it would address for customers, and how it would be able to differentiate itself from the melee. With so many brands already in the market, and new ones ‘sprouting’ up all the time, it would be hard to build a strong brand customers identify with unless some serious thought goes into making it different and unique.

One of the top priorities for customers, and one of the things that sustains their interest in a company, is knowing that there is a human element associated with a brand and that it has a purpose and a set of values. Humane service is what customers want and expect – which means that the brand must seem like ‘someone’ they can connect with and build an emotional rapport with – a personality that they can identify with and know that it would satisfy their emotional and rational needs depending on which one they seek satisfaction for. Sounds complex and cumbersome from a company’s point of view – it is not. All that companies need to do is take the time and make the effort to completely and thoroughly understand their customers and then build a brand around that understanding.

By understanding its customers, a company would be able to get most things right with regard to customer needs and expectations. This would also be the basis of creating and sustaining a long-term relationship with them and building a strong brand customers identify with. In building such a brand, a company would remain aware of its abilities, and would be mindful never to overpromise beyond those abilities. Keeping expectations real and fulfilling all promises made to customers are the hallmark of a truly confident and robust brand. Each person in the company must ‘wear’ the brand – that is exhibit the values and qualities that the company hopes to convey through their brand. Everyone’s contribution would make and sustain a strong brand customers identify with and remain with for a very long time.

With so many channels of communication, diversity in the customer base, and many different aspects at play, companies need to ensure that the image they communicate through and to each is consistent – that all can see a seamless business supporting the brand. This will build trust and confidence in the brand and customers will know exactly what they can expect from the company, keeping the association free from ambiguity. Confusion and irregularities easily lead customers to distrust and eventually away from the company. A strong brand will ensure clarity and a consistent message across all channels and to all customer segments.

Building a strong brand customers identify with is all about staying unique. This means staying away from duplicating or copying the ‘style’ or ‘feel’ of successful brands already in the market. Customers are quick to notice such ‘copy cats’ and will most definitely shun such brands. Remaining true to the company’s values and culture, and striving to build a distinct identity is what will grab the attention of today’s customers – they are always on the lookout for new and interesting ideas – even if the company were new. Since customers would already be using established brands, there would be no reason to switch to a new and smaller company’s brand if it ‘resembled’ the big brand they currently bought. It would be best to stand out by giving customers something bold, creative, innovative, and something that strongly reflected the beliefs of the individuals running the company. Remember that the big brands of today also started out small sometime.

Customers prefer buying from companies and brands that are easy going and adaptable – the policies would be customer-friendly and it would be extremely simple for customers to conduct business. It does not make sense for a brand to make customers work extra hard to buy – the customers of today are in control and are unwilling to accept less than the best from any company or brand. Building a strong brand customers identify with, happens on the inside – which means that the company would have hired the right people. People with the ability and desire to serve customers, be willing to go the extra mile to ensure that all customers receive consistent service, and that the company becomes and remains successful. These employees would be the embodiment of all that is good and right about the brand, ensuring that everyone would easily be able to identify the brand when interacting with the employees of the company. That would be one strong statement about the brand!

Customers, we know, buy for various reasons. However, the reasons for which they stay with and identify with a brand are few. If your company can convey values, customer-focus, empathy, care, and other such traits through its brand, it can be sure to build and sustain a brand that would withstand all market conditions and other external pressures. Building a strong brand customers identify with and respect, takes time and some serious effort – but in the end it is all worth the effort.

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