This one should come as no surprise. It is the reason branding came to exist in the first place! Of course today the competition is much, much, stiffer, especially in an economy battling it’s way out of a recession. We are in age of such abundance that there is a company for nearly everything you can imagine. Not just that, MULTIPLE companies for just about each and every niche you can imagine. Turns out you’re just not that special… But you still need to convey that you are, and that’s what makes branding so important. Branding is not copying your competitors and shifting some things around, nor is it slapping together a quick logo and template website. Branding is about communicating a unique identity and unique qualities to your customers, in a myriad of possible ways. It is a consumer-oriented process that requires research and planning. Who are your customers? What are they looking for? How do you fulfill their needs? Very few businesses seem to understand how important this is, and it’s those select few that do understand it that we see every day on the television and digital media.
In a free enterprise system and a consumer culture, differentiation is everything. And this is a GOOD thing! Humans love variety and novelty, hence the old saying “Variety is the spice of life”. Embracing that idea by having a unique identity – and communicating that to your customers, is the first step towards being a successful business in today’s age.
We are all aware that Social Media use has been skyrocketing. It is a very daunting realm for many businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. Social Media is providing so many new ways of engaging your customers and communicating your brand to them. If that brand image is strong and consistent, you will have an edge on many of your competitors who have yet to create a strong social media presence. It’s important to understand that you do not HAVE to be on every social platform, but the more opportunities to put yourself out there, the better. For example, Pinterest is a great platform for engaging female demographics. Google+ is great for location-based searches since it merged with Google Places. Facebook is great for reaching a wide variety of demographics and creating contests and promotions.
All of these social platforms are connecting human beings in so many new ways, and there is no end in sight. People expect businesses to be more social and personal with them as well. And that leads us to…
Consumers are much more aware of reviews, and are much more willing to put the extra time into researching your competitors, particularly if your product or service is in a higher price range. People are also much more critical of companies, and want to see them as value-seeking entities comprised of real people, not profit-seeking faceless corporations. What this means is your company has to become equally conscious of its image, the value of its products or services, and the degree to which it engages people on a personal level. Consumers have so many choices to make each and every day, relieve their stress by being the clear choice – And communicating that! Branding is not just about the “idea” of a company, it should reflect what the company actually is.
This has been touched on in some of our previous blog posts, but its importance cannot be understated. Mobile use is skyrocketing. It is a complete paradigm shift in the way we interact with computers and the internet. Unfortunately only a small percentage of companies have really begun to take that to heart. What it really comes down to is a matter of consistency. Your brand experience should be the same no matter what, or the ambiguity will create tension and distrust in your customers. If pulling your website up on a mobile phone pulls up broken images, text going off the page, and a confusing layout, you are missing out on leads. And there’s a good chance they won’t be back. You need to respect your customers by going for a responsive web design that provides consistency and an enjoyable user experience for them. They will respect you in return.
This is What We’re About!
Branding is very important and is in fact central to Cardinal’s interactive marketing approach. Who cares if more people are getting to your site if the content is outdated, you have a weak brand image, or there’s inconsistency in your user experience?