When a customer begins their journey through the buying process, a list of possible options flashes through their mind. But, of course, their brain doesn’t offer them an alphabetized list of stores. Instead, a flurry of logos, names, and other branding elements come to mind. Oftentimes, the customer will go with the brand that they are most familiar with.
Coming to mind at that moment of buying intent is the dream of every company. It’s why the world’s largest businesses hire million-dollar marketing consultants. Here's a few tips on how to keep your brand top-of-mind.
Why Branding is Key
Branding is vital to the success of your business, and is particularly important when it comes to staying top-of-mind. In this section, we’ll explore just a few of the reasons why before moving on to specific techniques.
#1 Strong Branding Improves Recognition
As the face of your business, a logo is one of the major components of your brand. Your logo should be simple enough that customers will remember it easily, but it should also be powerful enough that it creates a positive impression. With a stellar logo, you increase the odds that a customer will think of you when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
Other elements of branding, such as image, storytelling, positioning, personality and equity all come together to help you stand out from your competitors. Let’s look at these one at at time.
Brand image. The brand image is the impression of your company and product you make on people. Your brand image exists in the nebulous no-space of the customer’s mind. When you collaborate with a charity through cause-related marketing, for instance, you’re attempting to positively influence your brand image.
Brand storytelling. This encompasses the press you create around your brand and can appear on your own blog, on platforms such as Medium or in other formats, such as video. Effective brand storytelling captivates the audience by including tried and true elements of story such as: character, setting, conflict and resolution. Brand storytelling is one of the most important weapons in the battle to remain relevant.
Brand positioning. This is simply how you place your product in the market and how you compare to your competitors. When you think about brand positioning, you’re considering which segments of the market you’re targeting. For instance, Virgina Slims was a cigarette brand marketed toward women, yet on a broader scale, most cigarettes are more or less the same.
Brand Personality. More and more, consumers like to engage with companies with personality. Through your branding, and in particular, through brand storytelling, you can demonstrate that while you’re a business, you can still relate to your customers. Social media is a great way to portray your brand personality and engage with customers.
All of these elements taken together make up your brand. Consistently strong branding will reflect these elements, and will prompt users to think of you when it comes time to make a purchase. In other words, branding helps you stand out from your competition.
#2 Branding Creates Trust
Customers value a personal connection with the companies they do business with. Eyewear company Warby Parker uses their many socially-conscious campaigns demonstrate to consumers that they’re about more than their bottom line. By incorporating their social responsibility into their brand, they have created a brand personality that creates trust and loyalty. While branding takes time, it’s a passive process that costs you relatively little in the long run. Trust will translate into steady sales.
#3 Branding Supports Customer Advocacy
Building a strong brand will save you money over time in a couple of ways. The first ties back to points one and two above. As you build recognition and trust, your list of loyal customers will gradually expand, resulting in a steady increase in revenue. This list of loyal, happy customers will fuel your word-of-mouth marketing, which is an immensely valuable asset for all brands.
Stay Top of Mind with These 4 Strategies
With that out of the way, let’s look at some specific techniques you can employ right now.
#1: Start on Your Brand Story Journey
Establishing a brand story won’t happen overnight. Your brand story stems, at least in part, from your company culture. A company culture, in turn, takes time to develop. It’s one of the few things in the business world you can’t buy—though you could hire a consultant to move things along a bit faster.
Google has a robust company culture that reflects well on their brand and enables them to tell remarkable brand stories. But that culture emerged over more than a decade of fostering strong employee relationships.
What can you do, then, today, to get started?
Well, if you don’t have a blog, you could make one. If you don’t have an Instagram account, you can make one of those, too. You can’t tell stellar brand stories if you don’t have a platform. Medium is great, as is YouTube, but you’ll also need a space all your own. Dedicate a part of your website for your stories, and then fill that sucker up. Again, consumers love to see the human side of a company, and they will gravitate toward the company that appears to have personality.
#2: Connect With Your Customers
To stay top of mind, you need to make real connections. This goes beyond offering coupon codes or hosting contests. You need to be present at the touch points that matter most to your customers. This means finding the social media platform where your customers are spending the most time and engaging with them frequently. Remember, in today’s interconnected world, creating a lasting connection with your customers is key for success.
#3: Anticipate Needs
You can sell a tired guy a cup of coffee, or you can listen to his woes and sell him a cup of coffee and a donut.
In the first scenario, you’re merely a business providing a service.
In the second, you’re a friend inviting the customer to vent their frustrations. You’re listening. Invite the customer to open up to you and you're well on your way to establishing a relationship with them.
Barnes & Nobles are famous for taking this approach. They could have saved money by making their stores much smaller. But instead, they made their stores bigger, integrating a cafe and several comfortable chairs. They did more than solve the customer’s immediate problem—needing a book. They went the extra mile and invited the customer to relax and alleviate some stress. Using this approach, they have thus far survived the decline in physical book sales that has doomed other chains.
#4: Create Personalized Experiences
In 2019, it’s no longer enough to create one-size-fits-all content. Content is becoming more and more interactive. If you sleep on this, it’ll be your competitors who stay top of mind, not you.
What you need to know:
Utilize conversational marketing. Your goal should be one-to-one messaging across all the channels you’re active on.
Profile and segment your customers as much as possible, especially when it comes to your email list. Doing so will enable you to create more relevant content.
Analyze past buying patterns. If you can anticipate their needs, your customers will thank you for it. Marketing messaging is welcome when it’s truly useful.
Don’t think of your customers as stats. Remember, your customers are living, breathing people. To stay top of mind, demonstrate that you care about them.
#5: Be Consistent
When it comes to staying top of mind, this final point may be the most important. Use whatever tools you need to use to help you publish content on a consistent schedule. Consistency is critical. If you publish sporadically, your customers will forget about you. If you make promises you don’t keep, your customers will resent you.
This goes beyond content marketing, of course. You must strive to achieve a consistent level of quality throughout your entire operation. Think of any company with a sterling reputation and the one common thread you’ll find is consistent quality.
Three Brands to Emulate
Next, let’s look at three brands that have succeeded in staying top-of-mind.
As more consumers wish to transition to an electric driving experience, developing the technology that will enable them to do so becomes more profitable. But Tesla had a problem: how to compete with established brands such as Toyota? After all, when Tesla came on the scene, the assumption was that consumers who wanted to drive electric valued economy, and Toyota and Honda were the poster boys of economy.
Tesla decided to take an alternative approach. They broke into the electric vehicle space with an offering that Toyota or Honda wasn’t even close to considering: an electric luxury sports car. In so doing, Tesla carved out their own niche. Consequently, the Tesla brand has emerged as a key player in the industry.
At a time when airlines like Delta were cutting back on creature comforts for passengers such as peanuts and extra leg room, JetBlue came along offering high-quality snacks and roomy interiors. It was the perfect time to do something different in the space, and JetBlue has done an amazing job of carving out a space for themselves. Everything about their branding aims to bring the fun back to flying, and consumers have responded.
Taco Bell was top of the totem pole when it came to fast food Mexican restaurants. Then Chipotle came along, offering something more: a higher quality experience. Sure, Chipotle costs more, but they offer a casual dining experience that clicked with a younger generation who were just coming into their own buying power. Everything from their joke-laden soda cups to their hip atmosphere resonated with their customers.
While branding may seem like a daunting task for smaller businesses, there are simple steps that can be taken to establish your brand as a local, or even national brand. Branding is an ever evolving phenomenon, but has shown powerful results when taken seriously. We hope this concise guide has helped you in your quest to stay to of mind. If you're looking to establish yourself as a top-of-mind brand, we're here to help! Fell free to fill out our contact us form and we will be happy to help your brand achieve its marketing goals.