How do you build a brand that is a sweet orange in an online social world of bitter apples?
How do the brands that leave lasting imprints in your head do it? Why is that jingle you hear one time on the radio or TV in the morning stuck in your head all day? Why do you consistently buy one brand over another?
Standing out in a crowd of noise, confusion, spammers and fakes online is not easy. It takes hard work, research, knowledge of people, knowledge of tools, knowledge of best practices and more. There are some days you may just want to throw in the towel and go back to your old spammy ways? Don’t do it!
There is a reason that the brands, jingles are stuck in your head. They are compelling, the words resonate with you, they are easy to understand and they probably spark an emotion inside of you.
Good marketers know how to do these things with their eyes closed. Yet many business leaders and small or medium size business owners find themselves in an online world without a staff to help them or the knowledge themselves to guide their team in creating a compelling brand that people will remember and want to engage with.
I like to stick things in a nutshell and make it as easy as possible for you to understand. There is a way you can build a compelling brand without a million dollar budget. However, there are some strategic and tactical things you are going to need to do and focus on to achieve success. Below are a 23 tips to help you build a brand that will be remembered, sung, tweeted, and virally shared.
1. Know your goals! I’ll say it in one blog post and I’ll say it in 1,000,000 more! Know why you are doing what you do! What does success look like to you on Friday, Monday, next week? Next month? Next year? Five years from now? You must set goals and objectives for your business first. Who do you want to be when you grow up?
2. Know your audience. You should know what your audience likes, wants, needs, desires and wants to be when they grow up. How are you going to help them do all of the above? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, this better be your first and top priority (right after you write down your goals, objectives and build your plan!)
3. Know your value. What value do you offer your audience, partners, clients, employees? Why should anyone care you exist? Why should they talk to you, listen to you, tweet you, like your Facebook page, follow you or give a rip that your business exists on this planet?
4. A logo does not equal a brand. Many small business leaders think they are done with brand when they receive the logo and business card set from the local print shop designer. They think they’ve went all out if they have a website with two or three selected colors. Sorry folks, this is not brand. My first question to you will be why did you choose such colors? What do the colors say about you? What does your logo mean? Not just what does it look like.
5. Be your brand. Know your brand, share your brand, be your brand. Every employee in your organization is a representation of you and your brand. They better know the core brand attributes, brand promise, differentiators, value offered to your audiences. From the receptionist to the CEO to the tweet stream of your corporate Twitter account, each touch is a brand impression. Accept it, deal with it and make them count!
6. Brand development doesn’t happen in a day. If any agency or consultant tells you they can develop your brand in a couple days and after a one hour session with you, run the other direction. A good brand consultant or agency will want to spend time with you to understand your business. They will want to know what it is you do and why. What markets do you serve? How are you different? Why are you different? Do your customers think you’re different? How do you want to make anyone who comes into contact with your brand feel?
7. Align your social media and marketing efforts to your goals. Facebook should fit into your business. Do NOT spend the next year fitting your business into Facebook. You’d be surprised how many businesses are doing just this! Don’t be one of them!
8. Consistency. Did you know it takes 6-7 brand impressions for someone to remember your brand at all? Yup, so that means every impression must count. The more consistent you can be the more easily each and every brand impression is going to leave a memorable imprint in their brain. Even if budgets are tight, find a way to build consistency across the various platforms. Focus on consistent avatars, logo placement, colors, value proposition messages, company and product descriptions, bios, titles, fonts. Basically anything that is seen or heard should be consistent.
9. Know where and how you are positioned in the market. Be realistic. If you’re currently seen as the low dollar, bargain solution then you are not going to overnight turn into the midnight sensation worth premium membership. You can over time evolve your products, services and move the mindset perception of your audience. However, it is going to take focused time, effort and work.
10. Connect with your audience via emotions and feelings. Determine the feelings you want your audience to have when they come in contact with your brand. Write down the top 10 words that describe how you want them to feel as they come in contact with your brand. Do you want to be the family room, kitchen or sales floor? Choose colors, textures, words and engagement based on such. Then narrow it down to three words. Those three words should be the foundation for how your brand looks, smells and tastes to your audiences and community.
11. Be unique. Focus on compelling, relevant value and content that inspires, enriches their life and makes them better. Say good-bye to status quo and dare to be different! Don’t build your brand and your content based upon your competition’s website and social presence. You have no idea what their goals are, what audiences they are really targeting. Their strategy could be completely different than yours and you may find yourself in a year further behind than where you started!
12. Create a quick message house. The longer term goal is to obviously create a comprehensive message house in coordination with your broader brand and identity development. However, for now at minimum create a one to two page document which at minimum includes your vision, mission, elevator pitch, description, value proposition, benefits, features and unique differentiators. This document will also be very useful if you hire a consultant or agency. It will provide them with something to start with and a better understanding of where your heart and head is in regard to your brand and identity.
13. Share yourself. The more you share of yourself the better your audience will connect with you.
14. Be you. There is only one you so be that person. Be that brand. Be who you are, what you are, period!
15. Use a variety of mediums. Everyone learns differently. Some people like written word. Some like audio. Some like video. Some need all three before it sinks in. Don’t be afraid to try something different you have never done before.
16. Engage your audience. Talk to them and inspire them after the Facebook like, not just before. Ask them questions. Speak in language they can understand to enable them to understand and connect with you.
17. Take your game up a level. Acknowledge you have competitors and simply doing what everyone else is doing is not going to be enough.
18. Humanize yourself and your brand. Treat your audience as humans. Let them know you are human too. Talk in words they understand and want to hear, not the corporate speak of your 1999 printed collateral.
19. Be relevant. If your audience doesn’t care what you have to say or do, it’s all for nothin’! Focus on developing content that enables you to have a conversation with your audience that they view as relevant and can resonate with their thinking and needs.
20. Integrate to reinvigorate! Integration is the key to success with successful social brands. The better you can integrate your efforts including marketing, social media, brand, and communications the more consistent, compelling and relevant your brand is going to be perceived by your audience. Integration doesn’t take necessarily more money or time. It takes more focus and usually a shift of focus from random acts of marketing to an integrated plan that requires accountability and measurable results.
21. Stop the Random Acts of Marketing! If it’s not in the plan, not in the budget or integrated, then chances are it is a Random Act of Marketing (RAM,) RAMs will eat your every last morsel of positive return on investment (ROI.) Don’t get stuck in the RAM rut. Instead focus on the list of tactics and approaches in this post and they will help you stay away from those nasty RAMs!
22. Ask your audience what they think. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients, partners, stakeholders, board members and employees what they think about you and your brand. Ask them to describe the three words they would use to describe you and your brand. You might be surprised to learn they are not the same as the three words you want them to think. The only way you can fix this is if you first know it’s a problem. Communication with your audiences will inspire them to talk with you, share their same issues, and you will as a result be better able to help them solve their problems as well!
23. Don’t give up! Even though this may seem like a lot of work (and it is), don’t give up. Develop a plan that enables you to bite it off piece by piece. You can’t build your brand or your business overnight. If you fall down, then just wipe off your knees, grab a friend and have them help you up. Learn from your mistakes and remember we all make them. Yesterday you probably worried about today. Today turned out alright. So why worry about tomorrow?
Inspire your audience to connect with you. Help them achieve their goals. By focusing first on helping them achieve their goals, you will achieve yours. People want to laugh. They want to cry. They like when you pull an emotional string inside of them. That’s what makes a jingle a jingle. It’s more than a few words, notes or people dancing around your tv. Get in the heart of your customer, readers, partners and community and they may just see and hear you as a sweet orange they need to savor and remember!
Are you focusing more on selling your old, sour, worn out apples? Or are you inspiring your audiences to desire your sweet oranges? Are you giving them something to savor and cherish? Are you giving them something they like so much they sing all day or are compelled to share it with their friends? What tips can you offer others? What do you look for when looking for a business to help you with services? What is a sweet orange to you?
This blog post is the first in a new series I am kicking off titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It will include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.
Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!