By Maria Rosati, Founder and CEO of Eminence Communications
In working with companies of all sizes, from early-stage start-ups to mature global organizations, I’m consistently asked this question: how long will it take to build my brand?
Did Serena Williams become a world class tennis player overnight? Did Lady Gaga start out playing Madison Square Garden? In today’s digital world, it is possible to be a viral sensation in a fairly short amount of time; but building a true and lasting brand, on the other hand, is an ongoing, never-ending activity.
However, what has changed is that brands now control how they are perceived. Once the domain of advertising and public relations agencies who relied on building relationships with journalists to obtain favorable endorsements of their client’s brands, the power now lies with the brand itself. My company, Eminence Communications, begins every client engagement with an exercise to define the brand’s promise which is the combination of their mission, vision, and values. It functions as the backbone of all messaging and informs the development of content that is engaging and emotionally connects with the target audience.
In working with companies of all sizes there are some common mistakes made early on that can impact long-term results. Before launching a full-scale program, brands should consider these three things:
Understand Your Resources
Every brand that I have worked with immediately wants to start developing and firing across all marketing channels — but is that the most effective use of time, money, and resources?
When working with early stage companies, we outline the business’s vision and goals over the near, short, and long term to build a marketing infrastructure that can support the business as it grows. Two important systems that are key elements of most businesses are a customer relationship management system (CRM), to manage customer outreach, and a content management system (CMS), to manage content needs such as newsletters, blogs, social media and email campaigns.
Given that most smaller brands have limited resources, the next step is to discuss which tactics, channels, and platforms will yield the greatest return on delivering against the stated business goals. Do we need a YouTube channel or is it better to launch an email sales campaign? Once we identify a channel that delivers, we add in another channel that can be managed by the small team.
Listen to Your Customers
The first rule in building a brand should start with the questions: what value am I providing my customers? What pain points am I solving? Brands often tend to speak about themselves—particularly on their websites—without addressing the need they are fulfilling.
Listening to customers is about connecting with them. Essentially, you are signaling that you understand their pain points and want to solve the problem. Creating an open dialogue with your customers enhances credibility and trust and creates a loyal customer base. It is also important to have regular conversations with your customer-facing teams, particularly your sales team, to gain insight into what is and is not working and how that effects how consumers perceive the brand.
Creating content that resonates with your audience goes hand-in-hand with addressing their concerns. As an important bonus, publishing informative content also boosts SEO results which leads to increased website traffic from potential customers.
Commit to Consistency
Once you decide the best channels to employ, brands need to be consistent in delivering upon their brand promise. Brand consistency reinforces your brand promise, makes you more recognizable by your customers, builds trust, and increases revenue generation.
Start by developing the company’s brand promise, which is what your company stands for as outlined in your mission, vision, and values. The brand promise must be clear with every interaction each stakeholder experiences. That means every part of the organization has a role to play in branding, from research and development to finance to talent development. Most brands forget that angry or happy customers and employees become your best or worst brand advocates. Consistency goes a long way in creating loyal fans.
Building a brand is never finished; it is an ongoing process which includes defining, refining, and evolving tactics to meet the changing needs of your customers. However, the investment is worth it as it builds trust, credibility, and loyalty with your customers. And that’s priceless.
For even more information on the topic, take a listen to Maria Rosati’s recent podcast episode on All Things Book Marketing: