What makes a strong brand? If you’re asking that question, rest assured, you are not alone. While many people are aware that a company’s “brand” includes its logos and colors, other aspects of the branding process may not be quite so familiar. Just the fact that you are thinking about branding at all deserves a pat on the back. Your brand is probably your agency’s most valuable intangible asset. It can help establish your competitive difference. On the other hand, a poorly thought-out brand can harm your reputation.
Building a strong brand, however, can quickly get complicated; it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to strengthen your brand that are relatively straightforward. Ready to learn more? Then let’s begin.
What is Branding?
Originally, branding was the practice of marking cattle or material goods. Later, in the middle ages, it evolved with the introduction of watermarks. During the Industrial Revolution, proprietors began placing distinguishing marks on generic, mass-produced goods to give them an appeal for consumers accustomed to locally produced products. By the late 19th century, branding had been developed enough as a field that legislation was passed to protect corporate investment. In the 20th century, the development of the field ramped up even further, with corporations introducing slogans and mascots, and taking advantage of new communication mediums such as radio and television.
Creating a memorable logo and visual palette can help your company leave a powerful first impression and separate it from the competition. All strong logos include several elements. A logo should reflect the nature of your business. It should use colors in an intentional manner that communicates aspects of your company’s personality. The fonts you select also need to work well with its other visual elements. Lastly, all logos should strike a careful balance between being distinctive and being simple enough for easy replication across a wide variety of marketing materials.
Of course, logo design is easier said than done. And if you are running an independent agency, funds may be too limited to pay for a graphic designer. Thankfully, there are now several sites online that can assist you in creating a professional DIY logo either for free or for a manageable price.
If you want a strong brand, then you must have a strong “brand promise,” a short, simple statement that outlines what consumers can expect from your company. A brand promise describes the products and services you provide, as well as the impact they will have on your customers’ lives. The purpose of a brand promise is two-fold. Once again, it helps your company create a positive and lasting impact on a consumer, concisely communicating what you can do for them. It also acts as a unifying force, clarifying a company’s scope and focuses, and helping lay the groundwork for other parts of the branding process.
Successful branding can’t happen in a vacuum. Instead, it must be infused into all aspects of an organization’s output. This brings us to brand voice – the tone in which a brand communicates. Establishing a memorable brand voice is a terrific way to give your company personality, but it also requires careful thought and consideration.
Not all tones are right for all brands. For instance, if you are cancer research company, it is probably not appropriate to communicate in a casual or jokey tone. Similarly, if you sell board games, you likely don’t want to project a stodgy air. Find the tone that works well for you and master communicating within its structures. Don’t forget that the strength of your brand voice hinges on it being adopted company-wide. All employees must be educated on the particulars of the company’s voice, and you could consider creating a style guide or full-scale brand book that they can use as a reference for any questions.
Your brand positioning statement describes your position in the marketplace. More importantly, this statement is your opportunity to describe further how you differ from your competitors and why consumers should choose to work with you over another provider. A well-written brand positioning statement involves a keen understanding of your target audience, knowledge of your core competitors, compelling use of your value proposition and evidence that you can deliver on your brand promise.
Let’s Start Branding!
Now that you have an understanding of some of the core aspects of branding, you should be ready to start putting it all together. While this list of steps is by no means comprehensive, by developing your brand aesthetics, promise, voice and positioning statement, you will have a great start on creating a distinctive identity for your business and a leg-up on your competitors.
Testimonials are an often overlooked, yet effective marketing tool. They can be helpful to gain new customers and keep potential return customers.
Think of your own experience making purchasing decisions. Do you go to a restaurant based upon a recommendation from family or friends? Before making major purchases, do you research and read reviews from people who have experience with the product or service?
Testimonials work because they aren’t strong sales pitches and they come across in an unbiased voice and establish trust. You’re using real people to show success in your product or service. In the end, your testimonials will be there to convert more prospects into customers as long as you use them correctly.
If you’re selling a product or service on your website, customer testimonials can be a key content element because they are unbiased comments that prompt visitors to buy. By using testimonials in text, audio or video formats on your site, you introduce content that will promote your product in convincing fashion.
Here are some tips for effectively using testimonials to convert more leads on your website:
1. Be Selective
A key to using testimonials is to choose the ones that work best. Instead of direct recommendations of your product or service (“I think it is great!”) – find testimonials that provide details that explain how it satisfies a consumer need or tackles a pain point. Testimonials that provide specific product benefits will induce sales.
2. Show Face
Make your testimonials eye-catching by adding an image next to your customer’s statement. Research has shown that adding a picture increases your click-through-rate by a significant amount.
Prospects like to put a face to a name. It helps them feel more secure and confident in what you’re claiming. It shows that the testimonial is coming from a real person. Adding an image is a simple addition that will increase your trust factor.
3. Show Them Everywhere
Once you get great testimonials for your website, it’s important to show them off.
Make sure to add them across your website wherever appropriate. Add them to your homepage, contact page, case studies page or even create a dedicated testimonials page. Use in ads, on social media and other materials.
You might try a web application that allows you to set up a testimonial page or a plugin that will allow you to post different testimonials on each page of your site. There are a number of possibilities, so determine what works best and incorporate testimonials all over your site.
4. Remember Your Buyer Personas
When gathering your testimonials it’s important to make sure you’re hitting all the pain points of every one of your buyer personas. Many of your prospects are looking to see testimonials that they can relate to; stories that show others like them being successful.
Be sure to feature customers from all the demographics and buyer personas that you’re trying to attract. Focusing on just one in your testimonials will limit your reach and value.
5. Never Fake It
The most important rule in sharing testimonials is to use real testimonials from real customers. It’s not worth the risk to fake anything on your site, especially testimonials.
Testimonials are there to provide credibility and establish trust. If you’re faking them, how are your prospects supposed to build a healthy relationship with your company? Faking testimonials can put your reputation on the line and even if you do win some business, your customers are likely to go in with unrealistic expectations.
6. Get Video
Creating a video testimonial isn’t a must, but it’s something you definitely should consider. Seeing and hearing a customer talk about your product or service resonates more than just reading about it.
Get some of your more personable customers to create a short 30 second to 1 minute video testimonial sharing how your company has helped them. Your prospects will be able to really see the appreciation and emotion from your current customers.
Reach out to your current customers who you know are happy with your company and ask them to share their success story. By showcasing these powerful feelings and stories about your product or services, you’re creating another tool to get prospects to trust your brand and commit to it.
It used to be that personal recommendations solidified
decisions, but in today’s fast-moving digital orbit, news about your company
travels differently, and online reviews—think Yelp, Google and Facebook—are a
primary source of feedback.
A 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by
Brightlocal.com reported that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as
much as personal recommendations and that 57 percent of consumers will only use
a business if it’s rated four stars or higher.
Suffice it to say that online reviews are remarkably
Not everyone responds to reviews, but there are several
reasons why you should (even if they’re negative), including the fact that replying
to feedback shows that you’re paying attention to your clients and customers,
you’re not afraid of transparency and your business is all about building
The goal is to convert fans of your business into super-fans
and offer disappointed reviewers an acceptable resolution, which often leads to
a revised review or inspiration to remove a negative one. While there are
multiple ways to respond to reviews – the positive and the negative – follow
these tips to put the face of your business in the best light.
Be pleasant and don’t hurl insults:When
a client or consumer is frustrated, they’re ready to fight. The last thing your
business wants to do is fuel the fire or burn bridges, so when you’re
responding to negative reviews, take a deep breath, be courteous and polite and
provide solutions when feasible.
A little sympathy goes a long way in defusing an unpleasant
situation. If you sense that the dialogue is taking a turn for the worse,
suggest settling the matter offline, far away from judgmental public eyes.
Keep your responses short and to the point: Social media users are looking to digest information quickly. If they want to read a novel, they’ll grab their Kindle or head to the bookstore. Keep your responses brief and genuine and stay on topic.
Thank those who post positive reviews: While handwritten “thank you” notes are, sadly, a thing of
the past, clicking the “Like” button on a positive Facebook comment takes a
second. Literally. Typing “Thank you for the kind words!” takes four seconds – five
if your typing skills need work.
You don’t have to thank every single person, but if someone
takes the time to write a favorable review, it’s a good idea to show your
Don’t be a salesperson: When
a user writes a review, it’s usually proof that they’ve already interacted with
your business, so there’s no need to tell them what they already know.
If you have something new to share about your business, it’s
fine to share, but make sure the content isn’t spammy or irrelevant.
Let clients and customers know that you loved working with them: Want to turn a
customer or client into repeat customers or clients? If they post a glowing
review, let them know how much you enjoyed working with them – and you’d
welcome the opportunity to do so again.
If you want people to continue to work with your business, you
need to let them know that you’re the kind of business that welcomes them back.
It can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of what intellectual property is; and how it can benefit you and your agency.
Intellectual property comes in many forms. Your company logo
is intellectual property. So is the name of your agency, any tag lines you’ve
developed and consistently use to identify your company, your color schemes, if
you have any – and content you’ve originated, like your website’s copy.
The good news about intellectual property is that it clearly
identifies and separates you from your competitors. What can be a challenge,
however, is challenges to your right to use your agency’s name or logo – if
another entity takes issue with the use and raises the question of your right
to its use.
IP lawyers know the ins-and-outs of intellectual property,
but it can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of (a) what intellectual
property is; and (b) how it can benefit you and your agency.
The World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) is a helpful
website dedicated to intellectual property issues.
Who hasn’t stopped, looked up addresses (including one’s
own) – to determine what a property is worth, how it compares to similar
properties and whether or not professionals involved in appraisals really know
what they’re doing?
As Zillow and similar sights today embrace the added option of selling a
property and eliminating real estate brokers’ commissions, the conversation about accuracy is a fast and furious trending topic.