Branding is an essential part of business. It’s a continuous process that evolves with time and the ever-changing needs and trends. This is why businesses must allot time, resources, and effort to build and maintain their brand image. But how does one go about improving upon their current branding?
7 Best Ways to Improve Your Company’s Brand Image
Today, we’ll discuss seven ways a business can create a more successful brand image. This is by no means extensive, and it surely doesn’t apply to every situation, but it’s a great place to start.
Identify your value and message
As our old pals from the Temple of Apollo once said, “Gnothi seauton,” or “Know thyself.” This particular piece of personal improvement wisdom doesn’t just apply to people. Businesses need to be able to state their guiding principles and use them to communicate their message to the world.
Understand your customers
One of the basic principles of effective marketing is knowing who your customers are. Knowing is a prerequisite to understanding, and understanding your customers’ needs and preferences is your goal here. It will be easier to reach them once you get to know them. It will also be easier to anticipate their requirements and fulfill them.
But it doesn’t have to end with understanding them to increase sales numbers. Customer satisfaction and retention are crucial to keeping your business running for as long as possible. Furthermore, you will need this deep understanding to communicate effectively with them, which we’ll discuss later.
Anthropomorphize your brand
Michelin Man. Ronald McDonald. The Duracell Bunny. Pillsbury Doughboy. The Marlboro Man. These are all excellent examples of how a brand character can improve upon a company’s image and become inextricably linked to the business.
This facet of marketing is called brand anthropomorphism. Research conducted in 2020 by Golossenko et al. found that the effective use of brand anthropomorphism has a direct and measurable impact on brand trust and commitment. Utilizing this strategy can lead to significant leaps in brand awareness. Effectively utilizing it, meanwhile, can lead to having your brand image lodged in your customer’s minds for years. Heck, it’s been almost a decade since I saw a Compare the Meerkat ad, and I still can’t forget about it. And I don’t even live in the UK.
But before you start drawing up concepts and hiring people to wear the costume, you must know that launching a brand character out to the public isn’t entirely necessary. Instead, think about who that brand character will be. Think of your brand as a living, breathing person with goals and agency to achieve those goals, then work out how you want that person to be perceived by others. You need to create a persona for your brand upon which you’ll instill personality traits and direction. This makes it much easier since all efforts will be directed toward one direction and help keep your branding efforts consistent.
Embody your brand
So you have your brand identity, values, and direction sorted out, and you have all that squeezed into a fictional person or figure that may or may not become a mascot for your business in the future. So, what’s next?
Well, it’s time to embody your brand. Your brand uniquely expresses your business values, principles, and personality. You need to present your business in alignment with your desired brand image, which means using your brand’s guiding principles as a blueprint for interactions. Do you want your business to be tied to a happy, positive mindset? Then, ensure your customers get that experience whenever they connect with you.
Remember, you’re not only selling products and services; you’re selling experiences.
One of the best examples is promoting an environmentally friendly brand image. This doesn’t end with just slapping a few “Please recycle” stickers on your product packaging. You need to put your money where your mouth is and go the whole way. You can implement zero-waste policies, transact with ESG (environment, social, governance) suppliers, invest in electric vehicles, and more. And it doesn’t end when the customer looks away, no. This needs to be a sustained and long-term effort on your part and should be rooted in the core of your business.
Seek out your customers
One of the most oft-repeated phrases in marketing is, “Meet your customers where they are.” This is solid advice, and you should heed it. It means making an effort to become visible to your customers in their preferred media or distribution channels. You need to know who and where they are, of course, to do this.
If your business targets drivers who spend hours upon hours on the road, consider getting billboard advertising along their route.
Your target demographic spends a lot of time on TikTok? Get an ad campaign up and running.
You’re a recruitment firm, and you need young professionals? Make your presence known at job fairs, seminars, and conventions, and don’t forget to post on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn and TikTok —
Leverage social media
A lot of people use social media, and I do mean a lot. Businesses big and small all over the world have recognized the value of social media platforms as ancillary or even primary tools in building brand awareness.
Now, there are a lot of strategies that can help you be more visible on different social media platforms. Still, the key foundations for all of these strategies are what we’ve discussed: you need to know who your customers are, what they want, and where they are. Otherwise, you’d be throwing content all over the wall just to see what sticks, which can waste time and resources.
Another thing to consider is which social media channels to use. This is important because you want to focus on the platforms that can give you the most returns. And to identify which ones, you’ll need to know where your customers are. For example, Facebook remains the best platform to reach older audiences. Younger generations, meanwhile, are flocking to TikTok and Snapchat. Millennials prefer Instagram’s more polished UI and content editing suite. These are important so your business can focus on the platform that matters most to your target demographic.
Create and engage
Let’s apply what we’ve learned earlier — who your customers are, where they congregate, and what they want — to making content and engaging customers online.
Content creation means generating and publishing various content types to promote your company’s products, services, brand, and online presence. It’s a foundational aspect of digital marketing and is crucial in attracting and engaging with customers, building brand awareness, and driving business growth. Again, you must align content and customer engagement with your overall direction and business persona. Here are some ways to do this:
Focus on visuals
Consistent branding is the first step in creating a striking visual content blueprint. You have a lot of options when posting content online, like videos, photos, carousels, or even text. Take advantage of this expanded opportunity and create a consistent tone and unique visual style that customers can associate with your brand. For example, the simplest way to do this is to keep a persistent color scheme for all published content.
Be authentic and human
One of the goals of humanizing your brand is to… well, make it more human. That way, any move in marketing starts from a human perspective, which hopefully communicates well with your audiences. Your brand image should have a personality of its own that is entirely aligned with your business objectives and values. All of this should be reflected in any content you produce. People are sick of soulless corporations that are only after their money, and you don’t want that as your brand image.
Don’t be afraid to be funny
We all know that Netflix is a giant multi-billion dollar corporation, and like other corporations, they can be hyper-focused on their bottom line. I mean, we all know that, right? Why, then, do they not look and sound like just another soulless corporation online?
The answer is simple: their social media marketing team isn’t afraid to use humor, and they sure aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.
Humor can be an effective marketing and engagement tool, especially in today’s always-online culture. Be warned, though, that you can go overboard with this. You can search for online branding fails on Google to see what not to do.
Start a conversation — but act as a participant
Businesses need to engage customers, and one of the best ways to do that is to start a conversation online. However — and this is crucial — one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is assuming that it owns that conversation. This creates a position disparity between them and the audience, which is the exact opposite of what engagement is all about.
Instead, companies should start thinking of ways to be active participants in the conversations they start. They need to communicate as humans would. Lastly, they shouldn’t dictate the terms of the conversation, only the premise.
As I mentioned before, improving your brand image is a constant battle. Changes in the marketing landscape can come fast and unexpectedly, while customer preferences can change at the drop of a dime. Businesses need to stay on top of trends and industry changes to create and maintain successful branding.