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There’s no doubt that brand recognition can help bring in more sales and profits for a company, especially when it’s done right. Consider three exceptionally well-known brands: Apple, which became the first trillion-dollar U.S. company; Disney, whose theme parks are showing record-setting growth in 2018, despite raising prices; and Nike, which saw a 31% spike in online sales after the launch of a new campaign.
Of course, brand recognition alone isn’t enough to determine a company’s success. Sears, for example, filed for bankruptcy protection in October, and Toys R Us closed its doors last June. All of these companies had great brand recognition. So what separates the companies seeing major growth from the ones going out of business?
There’s a common misconception that a brand is a name, a logo, a tagline, a visual. While these pieces do play a role in branding, this is not what branding is really about.
A Brand Is A Connection
The first thing to understand about successfully branding your business is that a brand is based on a deep connection. As in any relationship, that connection must include trust and an emotional bond. Without those things, the relationship won’t last.
According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of all purchase decisions are made subconsciously. Research shows that emotions play a huge role in the subconscious decision making process. That means that brands which make people feel a strong, positive emotional connection are going to gain loyal fans in the long run, which brings a competitive advantage.
On the other hand, when there is no emotional bond, there’s no incentive for customers to be loyal to the brand, and it becomes a commodity. So, how do you create this emotional connection with your audience? Here are three steps I advise my clients to follow.
1. Take A Stand
People connect with your brand when you have a strong point of view or belief about an issue, especially if they have similar beliefs and values. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be political or say something controversial to connect with your audience.
Instead, identify something you strongly believe in and that you want your brand to stand behind. Here are a few examples:
• Patagonia stands for the environment.
• Apple stands for the creatives and misfits.
• Disney stands for creating magical experiences for families.
• Lush Cosmetics stands for handmade cosmetics with fresh ingredients.
Taking a stand behind a belief can be disruptive because it helps people notice your brand and it gives people a reason to differentiate you from the competition. To identify what you stand for, start by looking at why you began your company in the first place. Is there something that you believed in? Is there something you wanted to change in the industry?
2. Embody Your Belief
It’s one thing to say you believe something, but it’s another thing to embody that belief through your brand. Consumers are savvy. They can tell if a brand is fully invested in their beliefs or if it’s just saying something because it’s trendy.
Embodying your beliefs happens through the brand experience you create (in your copy, brand visuals, product design, advertising, etc). The more you embody your beliefs throughout the brand experience, the better. Lush Cosmetics, for example, weaves its belief in handmade products into every part of its brand. Its ads mention fresh ingredients, and its stores are designed to evoke a farmer’s market.
This process of embodying your brand beliefs can also apply to personal brands. Lady Gaga has cultivated a massively loyal following for being who she is and standing up for equality and people who feel like they are misunderstood. As a result, she has a fiercely loyal fanbase.
To infuse your beliefs into your brand, think about all the moments in which your brand will interact with your customers, then brainstorm how can you integrate your beliefs into those moments.
3. Share Your Story
Finally, people connect emotionally when they connect with the story of your brand. Everyone loves a great story. That’s why bestselling books and blockbuster movies often capture the hearts of the audience. Great stories move people emotionally and forge unforgettable bonds. Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that you still thought about days or even weeks later? That’s the power of a story.
A strong brand story is no different. Every day, people are bombarded with different products and information. Consumers have countless options to choose from when they’re making a purchase. But if you have a strong brand story, the emotional connection acts as an advocate for your brand.
One of my favorite brands is Toms. I love that after the founder went to Argentina and saw kids playing on the streets without shoes, he created his company’s signature giving model that donates a shoe for every purchase. Like many others, after hearing this story I immediately bought into the company’s mission, philosophy and values and became a loyal customer and brand advocate.
Crafting a strong brand story starts with being genuine — people can tell when a brand is genuine or not. Then, think about your brand’s journey and the evolution you experienced to get to where you are now. You probably overcame challenges, learned something that changed you or discovered your passion.
Finally, humanize your story by adding emotional elements. How did this journey make you feel? By bringing in the emotional elements to your brand, you’ll be able to connect to your audience in a deeper, more meaningful way. This will, in turn, create more brand loyalty and love for your brand.
March 5, 2019 at 07:19AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs