“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” – Howard Schultz
Any organization has myriad parts but for a customer to see the organization as a seamless whole, it uses the brand to interact with the market and customers. Companies that fail to break silos and thus present themselves as many parts of a whole, find it hard to engage, attract, or retain customers. In contemporary times, actual experiences and service that customers receive from the company consistently overshadow branding. Improving engagement and provide stellar customer service is now about making a brand valuable to the modern customer. Today, customers control branding – the message that goes out is customized to appeal to them and to let them know that the brand has been developed to satisfy and meet their needs. This is what drives experience, engagement and makes a brand valuable to the demanding new age customer. Even in an age of severe competition, low customer trust, and attention, it is possible to build a strong, trustworthy, and valuable brand by focusing on customers.
Making a brand valuable is now about investing in the intangibles – creating value, networking, engagement, superior experiences, and easy customer service. Managing these factors and consistently improving on them will create trust and dependability and influence the customer’s decision in favour of the particular brand. Companies that incorporate this ‘wisdom’ in their strategies will soon find themselves in a commanding market position. Their brand’s value increases when people recall the brand based on some positive experience, colour, typography and other such factors – with great experiences creating the strongest recall and encouraging future business and WOM (word of mouth).
Technology is another factor towards making a brand valuable, especially with the tech-savvy customer of today. With so many on-line channels of communication now available, customer experiences take place primarily through them as these channels connect them with the people, strategies, products, and brand of a company in an unprecedented manner. Technology adds more power to the customer as it enables them to share their experiences instantly across channels with others at the click of a button. In order to make a brand valuable, it is imperative that companies allow customers to reach out to them through any channel of their choice and provide them with swift and effective responses.
Meticulous use of technology can prove to be an asset for any company if it enables smoothly flowing communication and customer engagement and positive experiences that are worth sharing. Those companies that still view this indispensable asset as merely an expense will be unable to realize its full potential to further the cause of their brand and products. Technology should enable all the departments of a company to remain connected and encourage communication in order to fulfil the brand’s promise. Making a brand valuable begins from the inside.
Engaged and energized employees will support the ideology that a brand’s value begins on the inside. They would be willing to create the aura of the brand for the customers by providing outstanding customer service at every touch point. These employees would have the support of the managers and leaders, who would treat them with care and attention they deserve. This internal environment of empathy and warmth would then reflect in the brand and through the experiences, customers have with the company. The human touch will enhance the value of the brand, making it more affable and attainable by customers.
The ‘process’ of making a brand valuable could be as follows:
- The brand would have clarity – of expression, of who the target audience is, the values and beliefs it symbolizes and the focus on customer
- It would display commitment from each member of the organization to provide customized solutions to customer needs
- The brand would be free from any legal hassles – copyright issues, unique design and other factors
- It would be an authentic and differentiated symbol of the company’s goals and also a statement that would confirm the delivery of promises made to the customer
- The brand would be more valuable if it maintained its relevance for the target customer – transcending the narrow boundaries of demographics and physical global location
- The message delivered through the brand would be consistent and uniform with all the other communiqués through other channels.
- A brand becomes more valuable when it is present – a ubiquitous presence – that constantly occupies space in the mind of customers – both existing and prospective
- The brand should convey a simple message such that it customers can easily grasp and understand what it stands for.
Counting the monetary value of your company’s products may not be that hard, however, it is the perception of customers that matters. They determine a brand’s value and product usefulness. Companies that are able to build, enhance, and sustain value into their brand and convey this value consistently, are more likely to ‘taste’ success early on and for the long-term. Making your brand valuable is not about simply assigning a monetary value to it. What matters more is that a strong brand has some huge and sustainable benefits, which every company needs, especially given the highly competitive market now. These benefits include, but are not limited to, customer satisfaction, enhanced market reputation, high credibility, increased brand awareness, and over time brand advocacy through loyal customers. All these factors together then become tools a company can use to target and get high net worth and highly discerning customers – thereby gaining an even greater foothold in the market.
We know that customers are no longer swayed by what companies tell them and neither does making a brand valuable depend on the brands / companies. Customers now are mindful, discerning, intelligent, and well informed – they are willing to buy only when they can see value. To make a brand valuable, a company must be able to address primarily the emotional and social needs of customers. Research proves that customers now are more ‘digitally inclined’ and are able to gain loads of information about companies that may have the products / brands that would interest them. The most powerful and convincing sources of information for ‘to be’ customers, is social proof – the reviews, recommendations, ‘shares and likes’ of certain companies and their products. In order to make a brand valuable, a company must be able to understand its customers, thereby ‘mirroring’ its brand to match the personal brand of its customers.
Making a brand valuable is a factor of all the aspects mentioned and a lot more. Customers seek to form bonds and emotional connections with brands they perceive as being high in value, which in turn would add immense ‘weight’ and authority to a brand. Tying together all the factors mentioned, is the underlying and unsaid truth that a brand becomes valuable when it is able to build a relationship with the customer. It would foster mutually beneficial associations and customers would ‘lean’ on it even to satisfy their emotional needs. A brand that customers can trust and depend on would have already earned the right as a valuable brand.