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Helping brands make friends

Every firm has a brand. Your brand isn’t your logo or even what you try to tell your customers that it is. It’s the impression that people—your potential market—have about you, your services or your products. We describe brands with terms such as strong, dependable, helpful, aloof or down-to-earth, the same terms we use to describe people and their personalities. Just as we are naturally drawn to people who display characteristics we value, we are drawn to brands that display characteristics we appreciate.

It's certainly challenging to manage the opinions and perceptions of others but there are strategies you can follow to help your brand make, and keep making, friends.

Know your brand’s persona
If you don’t already have one (and you really should), make a list of the brand attributes or personality traits of your brand. Imagine your brand as a person and describe it’s personality and characteristics, is it approachable or reserved, friendly or rigid, professional or fun-loving? Five or so items at least but, no more than ten. This is what you believe is your brand’s persona.

Much like looking in a mirror can’t tell you what people think of you, it’s impossible to see your firm’s brand without talking to customers. Start with your persona list, and next to each trait write in it’s opposite. Armed with that list of attributes and opposites, have someone (a staff member or a third-party) ask some customers to rate your brand on a sliding scale between those opposing values. The more people you ask the better your results. Past customers have an opinion too, so ask a few of those as well. While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive study, it should give you a better sense of where your brand stands relative to where you’d like it to be. If you’re at all surprised by the results, you have some work to do to either better align your brand to your original list or rethink your list based on the feedback from your customers—your brands friends.

Consistency is key
The friends we keep closest are those we rely on the most. The ones we feel most comfortable with—regardless of distance or span of time between interactions—with them, we just know what to expect. They’re consistent and we’re drawn back to them.

Brands are built through every interaction, every touch-point along the way. But many brand’s persona’s are plagued with inconsistency. While you might see your brand’s personality as friendly, if your website isn’t written in a friendly and approachable manner or tone-of-voice, then it’s at odds with your desired persona. If you believe your brand persona is helpful yet your voice-mail doesn’t provide an alternate contact or another means of communication, can you blame a customer if they feel put-off?

When was the last time you looked at your website? Take a hard look, but now through the eyes of a customer. Does it match your brand’s persona? Does it display well on every device? Call your main phone number and find out just how easy, or difficult, it is to place an order or reach a specific department. Have a friend send a request through your website’s contact form and track what kind of response they receive. Take a good walk thorough your brand from your customer’s point of view.

Review all your printed and electronic communication, ads, brochures, website, business cards, email signatures, eNewsletters—does it all work together, or is it a bit of a jumble? Often variations in style are due to materials being produced without a clear understanding of what the brand’s persona should be. Other times it’s simply by using different designers on every project. It’s nearly impossible to ensure consistency if you change designers frequently.

Effective and successful brand building is accomplished by first identifying series of attributes, your brand's persona, and then managing every interaction to support and display it’s persona in a clear and consistent way for your potential clients.

If you need help in defining your brand and ensuring each interaction supports its persona contact us and find out just how we can help your brand make friends.