The following post comes to us from Keith Coppersmith, an experienced business consultant who serves small businesses and startups.
The most essential goal of every brand is to ensure customer loyalty, satisfaction and engagement, among other things, of course. It all sounds pretty simple when you say it out loud. But is that really the case in practice?
Unfortunately, guaranteeing your brand’s success is a long and challenging process, to say the least. Ensuring loyalty through your brand’s image is especially difficult. So, what exactly is a brand image? Simply put, a brand image is how your audience perceives your brand and their overall opinion of what you do as a brand.
As you can imagine, you don’t have complete control over your image but there are things you can do to improve your reputation and good standing with your customers, which in turn, improves your overall brand image. With that in mind, here are a few ways to build customer loyalty through your brand image.
The importance of research
Developing a brand the right way means there are a lot of aspects to cover. If you want to have a good brand image and ensure it works in your favor, you will have to get a sense of what it all means and how consumers generally respond to brand messaging.
The best way to achieve that is through research. Your first step should be to determine your target audience; who they are, what they do and what are their preferences, expectations, needs and demands.
After all, you can’t serve your audience if you don’t know anything about them and you certainly cannot impress them if you don’t know what they like. After you find out all you need to know about your target audience, it’s time to focus your attention on your competitors.
A competitive analysis is not solely designed to help you understand what your competitors do and what their brand image is like. Its main purpose is to help you gain a competitive advantage by finding a way to do something better.
Developing a brand identity
Brand identity and brand image are correlated more than you think. As mentioned before, a brand image is how your audience sees you, whereas a brand identity is how you present your brand to the audience.
These two branding elements can complement each other quite well if you work on your brand identity. In order to do that, let’s divide a brand identity into two categories, your brand’s “face” and your brand’s persona. Here are a few examples of what both categories should include.
- Determine your company’s core values, mission statement and a brand promise. Make sure you walk the walk and talk the talk.
- Choose the right kind of brand messaging and how you communicate with your audience.
- Choose the corresponding tone of voice for your messaging.
- Develop a unique selling proposition and emphasize your offers.
- Create a brand logo.
- Pick a color palette for your web design in accordance with your audience’s preferences.
- Choose a unique design system.
- Use fonts that compliment your messaging.
- Decide on specific iconography, photography, illustrations, data visualization and other visual elements.
The purpose of putting these two together is to present your brand in the best light to your audience and make sure that they see you the same way you want them to see you.
Put yourself out there
To ensure you have a good brand image and that your image will generate loyalty, you have to be out there for the audience to see you. That means establishing a strong online presence and communicating with your target audience as much as possible.
Therefore, make sure you have an exceptional website up and running with the right design and a blog to complement your efforts. You can further work on your brand development by focusing on internal branding and encouraging employees to become your brand ambassadors. The more favorable your online reputation is, the better your image will be and consumers are loyal to reputable brands.
Moreover, make sure you have a solid PR (Public Relations) strategy and an effective social media presence on relevant networks. It’s important to note that regardless of your brand identity as a unique entity, you have to have a unique approach for every social media platform you’re present on. Last but not least, leverage SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to boost visibility, brand awareness, credibility and exposure online.
Consistency is the key for a good brand image that will foster loyalty, engagement and, of course, customer satisfaction. If you deviate from your original path, even in the slightest, your audience will notice and they won’t like it one bit.
Consistency encompasses everything you do, ranging from how you communicate to how well you keep your promises. If there’s a need to change things and there’s no other way forward but to rebrand, make sure you consult with your customers and make changes based on their feedback.
Building customer loyalty through brand image can be challenging. Everything rests on your reputation and how effective you are at doing what you said you’ll do. Consumers have expectations and you must meet, if not even exceed, those expectations for them to perceive your brand the way you’d prefer and to ensure their loyalty.
About the Author: Keith Coppersmith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. With experience in numerous small businesses and startups, he enjoys giving advice on all things marketing.