By: Jenna Wigman
In today’s digital media landscape–and with the rapid brand to consumer feedback cycle–it’s more important than ever that brands be “authentic” and “relatable”. With customer service conducted in the comments section of social media pages, and smartphone videos of brand missteps going viral in mere hours, it’s safe to say that what your customers/clients say about your brand can’t be buried.
- Take the time to discover who you are
I know this is easier said than done, but it is a step that can’t be skipped regardless of how rapidly your company is propelling towards launch or growth. Executive teams must work with third-party branding experts to determine not only what their brand looks like, but what they stand for: their tone, the unique value they provide to their customers/clients and where they hope their brand will be in 5-10 years. Create brand guidelines that extend to your web and social presence, employee standards, office design, brand ID and more.
- Own up to your mistakes
Even with careful planning, the odds are you are going to strike out a couple times up at bat. And while the repercussions of your brand’s missteps can vary drastically, it is essential that you quickly take ownership of the mistake. Consumers value brands that can admit when they are wrong; they respect the humility it takes to accept responsibility.
After that, fix what you can and make amends for the rest. Many times damage cannot be undone, and so it is important to identify the demographics of the audience that you’ve offended with the misstep and design appropriate retribution. An apology truly goes a long way, so make sure any amends beyond that are carefully considered and authentic.
- Make social good part of your company DNA
More and more consumers are especially interested in brands that have a social good component. However, making this an afterthought could actually do more harm than good to your brand awareness. It’s not enough to simply choose a cause and align your brand with it. It is key to search for a cause or movement that has synergy with your brand ethos. If you are a technology that is grounded in a drive for creativity, working with an organization that promotes art and music in schools would be an organic fit, while simply sending your employees to a soup kitchen once a year reads as more of a PR stunt.
- Stay on top of trends, but don’t become a slave to them
Being aware of industry trends and forecasts is essential for any successful brand, but leaping to be a part of every shift or “innovation” can lead to wasted resources and a confused consumer base. Take the time to assess which trends fit into your brand goals and make sure to fine tune their application before launching anything consumer-facing. Just because the “floss” is hot right now doesn’t mean that your brand should hold an Instagram contest to find the best flosser. Keep in check and make sure your viewers are on the same page with trends you embrace. Be timely, but not rushed.
- Have some fun
No matter the nature of your business, there are always windows of opportunity to create levity in an organic manner. There’s an appropriate time and place, but even when dealing with serious issues discovering a way to inject fun into your brand presence will make your company infinitely more relatable. And at the end of the day, if you’re not having fun, how can you expect your consumers/clients to enjoy themselves? Create the client experience from the inside, out.