Building an emotional connection that takes a target audience from brand awareness to brand loyalty relies on a company or organization’s ability to develop their brand identity. This involves developing a persona or a personality that allows the brand to emulate a single voice. But the best branding in the world is ineffective if it doesn’t resonate with your audience.
So, how are you being perceived? Is it well in line with what you’re putting out there, or is there a disconnect? Read on to learn how to mend the gap.
Brand identity vs. brand image
Essentially, brand identity is what a company puts out into the world – it’s how you, the business, wants them, the audience, to think about you. This involves how you define yourself through corporate values, positioning, and your mission. It’s your logo, colours, design. It’s what you tell others about you, what differentiates you from competitors, and what you promise your customers.
Your brand image, however, is what your audience picks up from that. It’s not created, but rather automatically formed regardless of what you say about yourself or how you wish to be perceived. For example, a logo is merely an identifier of a brand – a signifier of that company or organization’s perceived values, voice and reputation. The brand itself is made up of a slew of factors that determines how their audience perceives them. That is to say, it isn’t merely about the logo itself. It’s about what customers think about when they see that logo, and more importantly, the feeling they attribute to it.
You might not know that Nike’s iconic swoosh symbolizes the wing of the Greek goddess of victory without looking it up. But when you see it, you’re likely to think of motion and speed, and accomplishing your goals without hesitation – to just do it. Logos like Starbucks’, however, don't quite have the same effect. While the coffee chain is arguably as iconic and well-known as Nike, the mermaid isn’t as effective in translating the brand’s mission statement and values. You might think exclusively of the products they sell, or perhaps their excellent customer service, but nothing about their logo sparks the same feelings as Nike.
It’s the feeling the brand gives their target audience, and ultimately the emotional connection that brand is able to foster between themselves and their target audience that allows them to be successful. The question is, if you’re not already there, how do you get there?
How to mend the gap
While a strong brand image doesn’t happen overnight, there are a few things you can do to get on track to creating and maintaining one.
1. Communicate your values and be consistent
A big part of developing a solid brand image is creating values that align with your target audience and business, making them known through powerful marketing and communications, and remaining consistent.
People are attracted to brands that reflect their worldview, so even if your product is significantly better than the competition, your target consumers will flock to companies with missions that complement their values. At Humi, we’re all about taking good care of our people, and our mission is to help our customers do the same – we make this known through our blogs, newsletters, social posts, advertisements, and all other external communications.
When a brand does or says something that doesn’t align with an individual’s values, it can seriously hurt the brand’s reputation and risk the relationship they’ve built with loyal and potential buyers. So, study your audience, talk to them, and be genuine. Building a foundation for a strong community will pay off in the long run.
2. Capitalize on customer loyalty
The most successful brands put just as much, if not more, into building a relationship with their customers as they do selling their product or service. But only 15% of brands proactively work to manage their online reputation. That gives your company ample opportunities to gain an edge over competitors, especially those struggling with negative reviews and low conversion rates.
92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase your product or service after reading a trusted review. Take a more proactive stance by expanding your presence on review platforms that your customers trust like Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews. Make sure you are active, update your profiles regularly, and claim your account to track reviews.
Motivate your dedicated customers via email and socials to share their honest reviews about your products and services. Apart from building trust among your community and potential customers, you’ll get a good idea of what your customers love about your brand, and where they wish to see improvement.
3. Create a damage control plan
Negative reviews can hit at any time. To restrict damage and avoid tarnishing your brand image and furthering the gap, it’s important you have a plan ready.
The first step is avoid fueling the fire. Acting out of frustration and taking comments personally by responding negatively is only going to damage your brand image.
Reviewers are more likely to forgive companies and stick around if they receive a genuine apology and explanation. A solid plan involves understanding the points the reviewer has raised, speaking with your team about the issue, and responding with care, publicly before inviting them to continue the conversation offline. Acknowledge their frustrations, offer refunds and reimbursements where applicable, and make it known that you are working to resolve the issue.
4. Invest in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is key in allowing your brand and website to be visible and top of mind for potential customers. But controlling your position on the search engine results page (SERP) can be difficult without a proper strategy.
While building and updating your keyword strategy is essential in this process, you will need to improve your content game, consider adding new pages to your website, and pump out new blogs. It’s a long haul, but it’s necessary to stand out among competitors during keyword searches.
If you don’t have the team to leverage a SEO strategy at the moment, consider investing in software or consultants that can help you build one. To learn more, Mike Khorev has a great resource for IT and tech companies on how to improve their SEO strategy.
At Humi, we’re constantly working to improve our SEO strategy to show up in your searches. And if you found us there, welcome! We post blogs weekly about all things human resources, the workplace, and branding. See you in the next one.
Learn more with Humi
For more information on how you can improve your brand image, and all the dos and donts of building a strong employer brand, check out the resources below:
- Has your company outgrown its magical origin story branding and four ways to diagnose
- Should your company take a political or social stance on current events?
- A guide to graceful exits and last impressions
- 5 ways to optimize your candidate experience
- How to leverage your employer brand in the fight for top talent