Thursday, March 2, 2017

5 Secrets to Business Branding Success



We know that branding done right can be a powerful catalyst for growth.

But when it comes to branding or rebranding, there’s one thing that can kill the whole process faster than you can say “brand”: Buy-in.

If you don’t have buy-in from your partners, your employees, and your customers, you just went through a whole lot of something for a whole lot of nothing.

So, how do you make sure your internal and external teams are rooting for the new brand that you’re investing in? Follow the tips below to make sure your whole team is on board with the new brand.



Tip #1: Bring together all of the decision makers


If you don’t get all top stakeholders involved with the rebranding process, the rebrand will fail, no matter how beautiful your new logo and website are.

So, before you rebrand, make sure you carve out special time with all of your business partners. That’s the best way to make sure everyone is invested in the new brand and ready to be champions of its success.

When I ran a branding agency, we worked with a startup eCommerce company. The CEO thought it best to just include herself and her COO in the branding process, but I gently persuaded her to include all of her top stakeholders in the company to ensure a successful outcome. For two days we worked with this stakeholder group, diving into important business issues as well as exploring photographs to determine core aesthetic values.

The rebrand landed the company in a very different place than they had previously been. The new brand was edgier and more sophisticated—and all of the stakeholders loved it. That shared passion for the new brand fueled a 350 percent increase in revenues the following year.

Tip #2: Include your employees


The best rebrands come from the bottom up and get all employees involved.

Another company we worked with when I ran my agency was a large medical clinic. When we launched a new branding campaign that highlighted how the clinic was invested in the wellbeing of the whole community, we made sure to include employees as the models for this campaign.

The print and TV ads showed employees biking on their favorite dirt trail, jogging on their favorite path by the river, or walking downtown with their kids through a Saturday street fair.

By involving employees in the branding efforts, several great things happened.

First, the ads were authentic and truly resonated with potential customers. Second, the employees were thrilled to be included in the branding efforts. By feeling included, they were happier about being at work and more invested in helping their patients. Third, internal communications radically improved. Departments that had held grudges against each other started cooperating in ways they never had before. Even external referrals picked up because employees were more willing to go the extra mile to deepen new business relationships.

Tip #3: Get your customers involved


Lululemon launched a brilliant “ambassador” program that was the linchpin to their success.

They knew that athletes influenced buying decisions on a local level, so they embraced the local athletes from every community they sold in. They reached out to local yoga instructors and promised them a handsome discount for clothing no matter what city they were in.

All Lululemon asked? Wear your Lululemon clothes when you teach. Sure enough, the yoga students noticed the cute yoga clothes their instructors wore, and would ask where to buy them.

By feeling that they were a part of the Lululemon family, the instructors gladly spread the word about the yoga clothing company. By creating this “circle of goodwill,” Lululemon created deep bonds and fostered long-term customers.

Tip #4: Come from a place of authenticity


Les Schwab Tires is famous for its service. In fact, when Les first set up shop in a small tire shop in Prineville, Oregon, he made sure he delivered top notch service—right down to making sure the bathrooms were clean and the popcorn was fresh and hot.

More than 50 years later, the company engaged a high-end ad agency from Seattle. The agency could have pushed for a glossy view of the company, featuring perfect families driving perfect cars with perfect tires underneath.

Instead, the agency took the smart route: They decided to focus on real customer stories and bring those to life. One of the ads featured an older woman whose car broke down at night, leading her to knock on a nearby neighbor’s door and ask for help. It just so happened that the neighbor worked at Les Schwab. He sprung into action, repaired her car on the spot, and sent her on her way free of charge.

Great, true story. The ad agency nailed it. They knew that Les Schwab’s tagline “Doing the right thing since 1962” depended on coming from a place of authenticity.
Tip #5: Go above and beyond

You can’t just get a new logo and expect everything to fall into place. You need to go above and beyond to make sure your new brand really takes hold.

Let’s take a look at Starbucks. From day one, they’ve invested in their employees. They’ve offered health insurance and even paid for education. They’ve empowered employees to give free drinks and take other bold steps to encourage customer evangelism.

The company has also invested in its customers. Starbucks encourages the customer to be very picky and get their coffee exactly the way they want it—even if it’s a decaf, light on the foam, extra hot, no lid order. No wonder Starbucks succeeded in leading the way for a whole industry of coffee companies that are able to sell coffee at a premium price.

So what’s the moral here? Open your arms, open your heart, and bring in the troops to help you with your branding. Your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

Happy branding!

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