Effective Ways to Elevate Your Brand

Boost sales by sharpening your brand identity and improving its value perception.
brand-paint
Create a logo for your brand that is unique so it will stand out when compared to your competitors' logos. (Photo: quietfall/Shutterstock)

In today’s hypercompetitive business environment, branding is more important than ever. A consumer who knows and likes your brand and what it stands for is more likely to become a customer.

liz-goodold

“I recommend that every store and small business create a “brand vocabulary.” Those are those words that are only relevant to you.” -Liz Goodgold (Photo: Liz Goodgold)

Once you’ve developed a brand story, the next step is to continually find ways to sharpen your brand identity, improve your brand’s visibility and boost its value perception.

NCR Silver spoke with Liz Goodgold, branding expert, author and owner of consulting company Red Fire Branding, about how small businesses can elevate their brands.

What common mistakes do business owners make that cheapen their brands?

The first one is they do too much promotion and discounting for no apparent reason. You can do promotions and offer discounts, but you need to give people a reason. So you can, for example, offer first-time clients a discount without cheapening your brand. That makes sense.

But continually having sale after sale or promotion after promotion sets expectations and changes your entire price value perception.

A great example is Bed Bath & Beyond. Those 20 percent coupons are so ever-present that you would never want to buy something full price because you know you could wait to get a coupon for 20 percent off.

Additionally, doing things willy-nilly or inconsistently is a mistake. People say, “we’ll try a blog” and don’t stick with it. Or “we’ll do email marketing” and don’t stick with it. It looks instead like a lot of trial and error versus new marketing initiatives. You’ve got to give it time to work.

To make your brand more recognizable, what visual elements should you consider changing?

The big mistake that I see is similarity when it comes to logos. So often, owners look at their market and they go, “Wow this is such a beautiful logo.” What they need to be doing is if everyone else is blue, sometimes you need to be red. You cannot create a logo in a vacuum. You must be looking at your competitors and at other products that appeal to your target.

The other thing is people let form overwhelm function. Oftentimes, owners are so concerned with the font or script is that it’s unreadable. No one will ever say it’s too easy to read your signage and business cards. Giving people a complicated font when I don’t know the brand name is a bad decision.

How can you improve your in-store brand experience?

My favorite litmus test for a store or a restaurant is this: If you look around your environment, ask yourself, do you know where you are? If you are seated at a restaurant or standing in a store, what screams your brand to your clients? If you can’t tell the difference or know where you are, you have lost your brand identity.

How do small businesses sabotage their brand in other ways?

They get tired of their own design, logo or tagline more quickly than their customers do. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners will say, “Oh my gosh I’m so tired of that line.” But it’s deploying it consistently that builds brand awareness and cements the message. If you look at Nike’s “Just Do It” or BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” they have made a longterm commitment to their tagline and work it so long and so hard.

How else can you take your brand awareness to the next level?

I recommend that every store and small business create a “brand vocabulary.” Those are those words that are only relevant to you. For example, at some hotels they’ll say “your suite is ready.” If it’s an all-suite hotel, it’s the perfect word to use. They’re not saying, “your room is ready.” They’re reinforcing, every single time, that they sell suites, not hotel rooms.

There’s a thousand different ways to do this. You can change how you greet your customer, how you check out with your customers, what you call the bathrooms. The second thing to check is your follow-up. What do you do after the sale? Are you saying thank you or sending surveys?

The third thing to consider is how your email marketing is working. Don’t think that just because we have social media that email marketing has gone away. It hasn’t. It’s an alternative way to reach your customer and more importantly, it’s the only communication device that you still get to own. If Facebook goes down tomorrow, you cannot reach any of those people. If Twitter closes, you don’t have the contact information of any of those people. When you have email, you own your customer and you own the communication.

If you’re not doing these three things, you have a problem right now.

Any other last words of advice?

Every one of your people should be trained on the art of conversation. For example, at a high-end restaurant, you can’t go in and say to customers, “Hey guys, how’s it cruising?” They need to be able to have a conversation with customers. This is how we make connections, and at the end, we know that it’s your sales reps and servers that influence customers most about whether they’re coming back.

If your people really do know how to communicate and chitchat, they can make connections that last a lifetime.

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