To be considered for a job at all, suspects and prospects need to know that your brand exists. The first principle of branding is awareness. Do people know your business? A reliable way to build brand awareness is to give your brand a unique “personality. There are two ways to develop this personality:
A personality that matches the needs of the marketplace
This is how large companies “make their products and services look”. You research the look your customers want to see and adjust the image accordingly. This has the advantage of allowing you to choose the largest group of prospects to serve.
A company that provides medical products will like to be a medical personality. So the (visual) material you develop in the process will have a medical appearance. Your primary communicator then probably wears a white coat and a stethoscope.
One of our clients has a target audience that, oddly enough, is less interested in the outcome of their service than how they deliver their service. For this company, we mainly create content about their machinery and create images of people in their production.
A personality that matches your company’s core values
This is much easier to implement than the previous one. You don’t have to do intensive research for it, because you already have the elements for it. In addition, it has the advantage of finding the clients that belong to you. That generally leads to long relationships. A drawback may be that some of your target audience may not feel addressed by the image. If you choose this way of working, ask yourself what market share you are satisfied with.
Administration and accounting firms all provide an equivalent product. Large firms invest a lot of money in communication to the largest possible audience. In doing so, they compete with each other and approach the same target audience. If you operate in this type of market, it is more valuable to look at what your core values and capabilities are and focus on a niche that suits you.
A wholesaler of cleaning products competes with a number of large suppliers, whose main selling point is price. Our client is environmentally conscious and supplies for products with less environmental impact. In addition, the family business provides sincere personal attention and custom logistics. The market for those services is smaller than the market where price is procured, but produces profitable relationships with remarkably low acquisition costs.
The guy is the tent
In many companies, commercial and general managers are the “personality” of the company. If that is the case with you make sure that this personality always exudes the desired image. Do you have one of those strategies where “the guy is the tent”? Then think about ways to make your commerce less dependent on “the guy” and the space you create when “the joint” becomes a little more well-known. If you can let your personal charisma spill over to your business with the help of a good campaign, you yourself will have more time to do business instead of running after business.
As a founder of the company, you are often the point of contact with existing and new customers. As your business grows, you have less and less time for it. By training your staff with close attention to your corporate identity, you can increasingly hand over tasks and work more behind the scenes yourself. So brand perception is also important in the organization.
When I worked, years ago, at the Royal Jongeneel Lumber Company, we invested a lot of time in training our drivers. After all, they had the most contact with our customers. Because they were imbued with our brand personality and acted on it, we, as commercial people, had much less to worry about in the day-to-day operations with customers and more time to develop sales.
To the market
Now that we have decided what our brand personality looks like, it is time to “market” this personality. You do this using a brand directory. On the brand map, name all the characteristics of your brand personality.
Then ensure that that personality is visible at all levels, creating a positive brand experience even with suspects. Fortunately, there are more and more approachable, digital channels to strengthen your brand awareness. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are the most popular social networking platforms for business. When used correctly, these channels help build brand equity or drive prospects to your website. To use social media correctly, describe your social media policy and make an officer in the organization responsible.
We often see companies underestimate the complexity of social media use. Make sure the communications officer has a clear framework and is trained to deal with difficult situations so that you are not surprised by unpleasant comments about your expressions.
We are currently developing the Social Media Policy for the charity foundation The Hague Hat Challenge. In doing so, we not only named what we communicate about and what personality it has, but also wrote a great piece on how to deal with negative reactions. After all, when you raise money to fight diseases, people who have negative experiences also come along.
Most business owners manage their own linkedIn accounts. I see people communicating there about anything and everything, from sharing cat pictures to expressing an opinion on social issues that you really weren’t trained for. It is better to save your private opinions for the pub and stick to your business goals on social media.
Remember how you used our brand directory in the previous paragraph? Grab these again and produce your own content. Blogs, white papers and podcasts are becoming increasingly popular ways to reach audiences. Using this type of content increases brand awareness, search engine traffic and rankings, and the reliability of your brand by creating a strong online presence. The great advantage of digital communication is that it is inexpensive and approachable. The downside is that it has a low attention value. When creating content, don’t forget print materials in particular and make sure you organize enough physical meetings with your target audience. Again, all expressions should reflect your personality.
An entrepreneur is a deserving racing driver and has the idea to organize a big event at Circuit Park Zandvoort for an anniversary. Unfortunately (for him), his company has a green personality, with a strong focus on environmental awareness. So that event did not take place; it became a sailing day.
Digitalization underestimates the importance of a neat company brochure. Still, in my experience, it has a high attention value. It has happened to me more than once that prospects contacted me years after I handed them one based on that brochure.
Tip: Many companies struggle to produce relevant content. Yet there is a lot of “usual” content that is easy to produce and have great attention value. Often the best-read posts are these usual announcements around the vacations, Christmas, moving etc. In addition, there is plenty of content you can recycle.
If you’ve followed the steps in this blog, you now have a picture of your brand personality, a brand map that all your expressions should adhere to and a policy on how often you communicate about what on social media. In the next blog, we will address the second B: How do you create engagement with your brand?
Want to get to an appropriate brand awareness strategy and execution faster? If so, please contact Erik Camman now
*) Disclaimer: Branding is a long-term activity. It is better to invest a small amount of money over a long period of time than to pull off a one-time action all at once. If you desperately need new sales, it is better to focus on direct sales. You can read more about that here.