More than ever, brand management is social, it’s public, it’s high speed…and thanks to all of this, a slip-up or missed opportunity in the social media arena (or any media for that matter) can be enough to damage the brand you’ve built.
Please don’t be alarmed. The brand management benefits offered by social media and real-time human interactions greatly outweigh any pitfalls – particularly if you’ve been educated in the nuances of putting a real, honest, and genuine face to your brand.
So let’s get started with learning how to manage your brand by putting your brand “out there” in the most authentic ways.
Authenticity in Brand Management
Whilst communicating with clients – and the public in general – remember to always be honest and genuine. The human ability to detect rubbish is acute, and many reactions will go public. So, keep these brand management authenticity points in mind, whenever interacting with consumers:
- In order to remain genuine, you must be honest with yourself about what’s important to you. Allow your values to positively affect the decisions you make, including the clients you choose, the employees you hire, the subcontractors you contract with, the words you use, the tone…virtually every business choice you make. Every person associated with your business must understand and willingly communicate those brand ideals. And even more, each one must have the freedom to express their own values and make them evident through the personalities they display in their dealings with the public. Of course, employees can’t be running amok, firing off opinions or statements that are detrimental to the brand, but consumers want to know that there are real people behind your brand…with real lives, real issues, real taste, real interests. It’s up to you to learn how to maintain your brand identity whilst allowing those individual personalities to interact, personably, in a consumer-centric manner.
- Know to whom you’re talking. Don’t make assumptions or serve stereotypes. Instead, conduct your own, current research with focus groups, interviews, panels, etc. to learn what your target audience really wants. The landscape is probably different now than it was last year. It’s likely different now than it will be next year, or in a neighbouring city or country. Listen intently. Determine how you can use what you’re passionate about to speak to people’s concerns, needs, and desires. Don’t try to change them. Instead, learn and respond in ways that put their requirements first.
- Tailor your communications regionally. Broad, corporate messages work well for setting off rubbish detectors. Get into communities. Know what residents want and respond accordingly.
- Answer questions directly, with words and actions. And if you’re contacted with a suggestion or a problem that you can use to publically build your brand, please do so.
- Address difficulties with humility. Don’t attempt to bury mistakes. Instead, explain what happened, what you’ve learned, and why it’s not likely to happen again. Remember that it might be just a small problem in scope of your business, but for the sufferer, it can be life-altering.
- Explain processes. Even if consumers don’t agree with the way you conduct business, recounting your decision-making process and disclosing at least some of the reasons behind your procedures may persuade them to appreciate your work.
- Listen intently and respond promptly (and with action) to those who disagree with you. This will provide valuable insight into how your words are received in a variety of groups.
- Talk to those individuals not interested in what you’re offering. Instead of attempting to convert them with hard sells, use the experience to learn about what you can do to increase your mass appeal.
Genuine brand management is a lot like building human relationships in your personal life. People want to be heard, so listen to them with an attentive ear – one that is genuine and unique to your brand. Don’t blow smoke; instead, give real answers that teach consumers about your brand. Don’t make excuses, but rather, display your brand passion with clear, authentic, and definitive brand language.
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