We've all spent weeks, if not months, brainstorming ways to improve our company's brand identity. It goes along with the territory of being a marketer. You want to have the company that everyone relates to: one that has an appealing, effortless image; one that suggests being more than a company.
A good brand feels like a friend. To your customer, you have the potential to bring them comfort, to understand them, to entertain them, and to make their life easier. Brands that evoke a high amount of emotion from their customers receive 3x as much word-of-mouth as less emotionally-connected brands. The best brands evoke a sense of love and attachment as if it were a person.
But, like any good relationship, creating this dynamic between your company and your customer takes work. Companies spend millions of dollars trying to truly connect with their customers in creating a brand that they can identify with. So how do some companies get it right, while others fall flat?
Here's the secret: If you want a great online brand presence, make happy customers.
Happy customers and positive reviews are the best form of advertising. If you want to create a great brand identity, start by digging your most valuable asset out of the rubble: happy customers.
You've got to have them. If you've been in business even for a short time, you are bound to have done things right for at least a few customers. There are certainly people who are enthusiastic about your brand, and who would love to have a platform on which to gush about what you do right. The key is finding them.
This is where surveys are extremely useful. Many marketers disregard surveys because they think that nobody fills them out. This is not true. As long as customers feel that their feedback heeds results, in general, they are more than willing to participate in surveys. Surveys are effective, and they are essential if you want to find your company cheerleaders -or brand ambassadors, if you want the marketing term for it.
Finding your brand ambassadors is a process. You need to send out surveys at the right time, and you need to ask the right questions. The right time is directly after the customer has had an interaction with your company.
The right questions are questions that allow a customer to express their experience and dig into who they are as a person. Some example questions can be found here:
"Do you identify with our brand? Why or why not?" → This question comes right out and asks what you want to know. Does your customer identify with you? If so, you can find out why. If not, you can take some notes.
"What do you like about our company culture? What do you dislike?" → This question invites your customer to take a second and actually think about your company culture. A lot of customers will never consciously consider what a company's culture is. They will just buy the product because it feels right. Asking them this gets them to think and put your company culture into words: and getting their insight on this question saves you the hassle of guessing what they want and think.
"Do you feel that our company cares about you as a customer?" → This is maybe the most important question. The main reason why customers leave a company isn't because the company made a mistake--it's because the customer feels that the company doesn't care about them. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Finding out if your customer feels cared for is essential to determining who is a potential brand ambassador, and who is a step away from leaving you as a customer.
"When you think of our brand, what images or ideas come to mind?" → Another great question to spark your customer's imagination. This question allows your customer to help you brainstorm regarding what your company represents (or SHOULD represent.) The answers to this question should serve as the foundation for your development of a brand identity. Be what your customers think you are (as long as it's something positive.) .
"Who, in your opinion, is our ideal customer?" → Again, getting perspective from your customer on how you appear from the outside is invaluable. If they say "me", then great! They see themselves as one of your customers and probably really identify with your brand. If they say someone else, consider that them giving you their opinion of who your "buyer persona" is. Are they right? Are they wrong? What does that mean for your brand?
"Why do you purchase from our brand? What sets us apart?" → Hopefully, this question is where you will find your brand ambassadors. If this response comes back positive, you can believe that this customer cares about your brand, has considered their options, and has chosen you as the best choice amongst the competition.
The next step after collecting survey responses is to follow up with people who respond positively to your survey and start to cultivate brand ambassadors. This means inviting them to give you shout outs on social media, rewarding them for positive product reviews, and encouraging them to share and like your page with their family and friends. Positive reviews from other customers and strong brand ambassadors are how strong online brand identities get made. 68% of consumers trust online positive reviews, and 72% of consumers say reading a positive customer review increases their trust in a business. You can tell the world how great you are, but it will only mean so much if customers are keeping quiet. Once you have real customers vouching for you, and openly expressing how happy you have made them, your reputation will skyrocket in the online scene.
Image courtesy of pushup.com
When you have found some solid brand ambassadors, it's time to showcase them. Put testimonials on your website, give them shout outs on social media, and share their positive reviews whenever possible. If you can, make your brand ambassadors into personalities that your other customers can get familiar with. Getting customers to trust your brand ambassadors and to identify with them is the fastest and most effective way to build a brand identity that is relatable, trustworthy, and coherent.
Example of a celebrity testimonial as a brand ambassador.
Your brand presence online is your number one way to reach your customers. Making sure that you keep a positive, relevant image online is the first step to succeeding as an online marketer.