Nowadays, brand reputation means everything to a successful company. As consumers we’re being sold to from the second we wake up (quite literally if you use your phone as an alarm clock). Unsurprisingly, we’re all a bit sick of it. We have never had as much choice with our buying decisions, as companies worldwide are now more accessible than ever.
Faced with this massive competition for every sale, companies must have a strong brand to survive. But building a globally recognised brand is difficult, you may think. And you’re dead right. Global brand recognition takes years of painstaking and consistent effort.
However, the steps to achieving a winning brand are no different, whether you’re Apple or a local greengrocer selling apples.
This is your first challenge. Customers aren’t queuing up to discover your company. They’re already buying the products or services you sell from one of your competitors. You could take the traditional approach of finding out who they are and bombarding them with cold calls. But that hasn’t really worked as an approach for some years now.
Better for them to come to you. And the best way to achieve that is by creating content they love. Help them with their problems, give them your knowledge, entertain them. Write blogs, publish posts on social media, create videos, the options for content marketing are enormous these days. Get them used to your logo and company colours. Over time they will subconsciously associate your logo with a good experience.
Part of your audience engagement will include responding to people who comment or interact with your social posts. Some companies, like the US fast-food chain, Wendy’s, do this exceptionally well. The Wendy’s brand was always wholesome and based around family values. However, their Twitter feed has a high-level of sassiness about it. Totally unexpected when you consider their company ethos. But it’s very effective. They strike a balance perfectly between the sweet and innocent, pigtailed girl in their logo and the take-no-shit alter-ego on Twitter.
KFC are another fast-food brand who have embraced social media. As well as their regular KFC Twitter account, they’ve also created one just for customer service. They know their audience hangs out on Twitter, so they’ve given them a direct communication channel.
Following on from that, the best companies also pay attention to any negative feeling towards them on social media channels. Many CRM systems have built-in social listening tools which alert them whenever their company is mentioned on social media. They respond quickly and publicly to any of these negative comments.
Over time you will build an audience who’ve got to know, like, and trust you. When they need your product or service, they’re already 90% of the way towards buying from you.
When you think about the most successful modern age companies like Netflix, Amazon or Apple, they’ve worked out their customer journey. They know exactly who their customers are and what they want.
Netflix has redefined (or even defined) online video streaming and set the benchmark. They put the customer at the start of the process and asked what they want. The answer was whatever they wanted to watch whenever they wanted to watch it. So that’s what they created. But they took it further by personalising the service. Their algorithm learns the shows and films you like and pushes alternatives to you. As such, you’re never short of something to watch.
Like Wendy’s and KFC, Netflix has also created a first-class customer service experience online. As well as their standard Twitter and Facebook accounts, they also have dedicated Instagram profiles for their Netflix Original series.
By using a combination of app notifications and email marketing, these companies keep in regular contact with their customers. They tell them when something they may be interested in watching or buying becomes available. They stay close to their customers.
Finally, they know that no matter how good your processes are or how thorough your quality control is, something will always go wrong. On their websites, they have multiple ways to resolve a problem. As a basic there will be a FAQ or Troubleshooting page, they will have Live Chat, email, and phone support. Customer service teams in those companies are rated on what they call FCR – First Contact Resolution.
Customers hate being bounced around from one support agent to another. They want one person to deal with the problem. The customer service teams are trained to a higher level and cross-trained in multiple areas.
Your company branding isn’t only outward-facing. As well as your customers, it’s essential to give your employees the best experience too.
The best companies have outstanding employee engagement programmes. Countless studies show that engaged, happy employees perform better in their jobs. Consider Apple’s approach to its front-line staff. Calling them Geniuses in the stores may seem a little over-the-top, but it works. They aren’t assistants or workers, they’re the people who can fix all of your Apple problems. As a result, their customer-facing staff aren’t only supporters of the brand, they become Ambassadors.
And the good word spreads. Apple doesn’t struggle to recruit people in their stores. Their employees have told everyone they know how great it is to work at Apple. The Apple brand must save the company millions of dollars in recruitment costs alone.
All the companies mentioned in this article are big, global corporations. But size is irrelevant when you’re building a brand. If you focus on these three areas, it doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur, SME or multi-national, the principles are the same. At Brand Adapt, we work with companies of all sizes to create and develop their brand identity. If you’d like to get in touch about your company’s brand, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org