What’s your favourite coffee chain? Is there one particular beer you always buy? How about holidays? Do you always book through the same provider? If you crave Starbucks but wouldn’t go near a Tim Horton’s, scoff Dunkin’ Donuts but couldn’t swallow a Krispy Kreme, chug away on Northern Monk but have banished BrewDog from your weekend repertoire or give Delta a shady side-eye as you venture into Virgin, you know first-hand the power of branding.
If you’re just starting out on your bid to build a stronger brand, you might not be quite at global player level before the year is through, but by the end of this blog, you’ll be in no doubt of just how crucial solid branding is for your business.
Let’s get cracking, shall we?
What is a strong brand?
A strong brand refuses to relinquish pride of place in the minds of consumers. Stubbornly persistent, it crushes the competition as it goes: a perfectly placed ad here; a well-timed tweet there.
From McDonalds to Mercedes, Starbucks to St. Tropez, Nike to Nespresso, strong brands have a special place in the hearts of their customers. Often recognisable by just a logo – or even the colours of that logo – a solid brand commands attention like nothing else.
Take MacDonald’s for instance: you can be driving down an innocent A-road, minding your own business, and then you see it: the golden arches. You weren’t even hungry; you’ve just been to your mum’s for dinner; the kids would kill you if they knew you’d been without them – but before any of those useless objections have time to process (honestly, the kids won’t even know), you’re cruising merrily through the drive-thru, seconds away from tucking into a Big Tasty.
And that, my friends, is a strong brand.
What are the benefits of a strong brand?
We’re so glad you asked! Here’s why a strong brand is worth its weight in gold.
- Super happy staff
Let’s start with your people. If they work for a strong brand, a brand that people know and respect, they’re going to feel proud. This, in turn, boosts employee engagement – which, as we all know, leads to greater productivity, higher profits, and much better retention. Working for a strong brand incentivises people to put their all in, because they – like loyal customers – are invested.
If you’re not sure how your employees feel about your brand, check out our employee experience survey software (it’ll bring you some priceless employee insights!).
- A VERY deep talent pool
While we’re on the subject of happy workers and low attrition, another brilliant benefit of a strong brand is the number of people who want to work for you. People love the kudos of working for a majorly hyped brand. Look at it this way: when Google posts a job, how many applicants do you think they get? Things go CRAZY. HR needs a holiday within an hour of a role going live, because their brand is just so damn popular.
- Colossal customer recognition
Did you know that 59% of customers prefer to buy from brands they already know about? Well, they do, and we get it. People take comfort in familiarity – particularly when their previous experiences have been positive and they feel a degree of trust. If you have a strong brand then, people will naturally gravitate towards you when it’s time to buy a product you sell, or invest in a service you provide, because you’ll feel familiar to them.
- The edge factor
Once your recognition starts to rise, so does your share of the market. Brand awareness is big business for your, well, business (especially when you consider that 77% of consumers admit to making a buying decision based on brand name alone). Your brand is essentially what tells people what you do, how well you do it, and why they should choose you over your competitors. The better people know your brand, the more likely they are to understand what makes you different – and that’s the competitive edge that draws customers in.
- Easier expansion opportunities
If you find yourself eager to branch out, a strong brand will do a lot of the heavy lifting. It’s much easier (and less risky) to introduce new products and services to an already receptive audience. Loyal customers are always keen to try out the latest from the brands they love. Just look at iPhones! People eagerly await the new release – not because they need a new phone, but because they’re totally bought into the brand.
- Repeat business (for life?)
Every business dreams of a loyal customer base – because when you have them, they keep coming back. In fact, 77% of consumers have been loyal to at least one brand for 10 years or longer. So if you can translate your values and direction through your brand, and connect with customers through those values, you’ve secured yourself a long-term revenue stream. And don’t forget that your loyal customers are most likely to tell their friends and family about you, you lucky thing.
- Extra street cred
For a brand to be credible, it needs to deliver on its promises, cough up the goods (think high quality, great service), and leave a trail of satisfied customers in its wake. And it’s well worth aiming for high-cred status, because you’ll find it far easier to bag customers if they find you credible. You’re probably realising now that all these things are related, and credibility will certainly serve to boost brand recognition, increase customer loyalty, and extend your market share. Boom!
- More effective ads
It’s endlessly annoying when you plough money into an ad campaign and the results are lacklustre at best, but maybe you weren’t actually ready for all eyes on you? When you take the time to build a strong brand, your advertising efforts will carry far more clout because people will already be interested in what you have to say. They’ll better connect with your ads if they recognise your brand; it’s as simple as that.
Examples of a strong brand
Let’s take a moment to commend some of the companies who’ve got this brand thing down pat.
We can’t talk about strong brands without touching on Apple, now can we? As the most successful brand in the world (quite the achievement, right?) Apple’s brand game is incomparably strong. Because of that, consumers will willingly pay over and above standard market rates to get their hands on the latest Apple products (in actual fact, 46% of consumers would willingly pay more to buy from a brand they feel they can trust). With a brand value of approximately US$214 billion, and an annual revenue of around US$230 billion, you’ll understand why we bang on about the importance of a strong brand as often as we do. Customer loyalty and market share in one.
From online shopping to audio books, music to groceries, Amazon has its finger in so many pies it could open a bakery. In fact, that’ll probably be next on the list, but we digress. With Prime delivery speaking directly to the needs of today’s fast-focused consumers, and an online video library that would make Blockbuster blush, it’s no surprise that the brand behemoth has the largest number of customers in the world. With a world holding value of US$100.76 billion, it’s no surprise that Amazon’s customers are loyal to a fault.
When you head into a bar, you’ll ask for a coke without even stopping to check if they stock the Coca-Cola brand – that’s because the brand name has become synonymous with the beverage (this is known as a proprietary eponym, and it’s often the holy grail for a company). We don’t need to tell you that Coca-Cola is HUGE, because its fame is global – netting an annual profit of $6 billion, and a brand value of $66.34. Going strong since 1882, the longevity afforded by its loyal customers has been passed down through the generations. And their marketing efforts are on-point: once you’ve seen the Coca-Cola ad at Christmas, you know holidays are coming…
You may not quite be in Apple, Amazon or Coca-Cola territory just yet, but if you want to grow your footprint, help is at hand.
How can Forsta help?
If you’ve got your sights set on strengthening your brand, you really need to get a handle on where you’re at. With our brand experience software, Forsta can help you get to the bottom of what your customers really think: why they choose you, whether they like you, why they ditch you, and who for. Forsta can help you understand the full human experience.
It might not always make for easy reading (who wants to hear that their competitor is doing something better?), but feedback that carries real, actionable insight will ultimately help you to make your brand stronger.
It pays to listen, because this sort of savvy software can tell you what you’re doing well and where you’re going wrong, how you can make your customers happier, and even how your ads are landing (along with ways to make them better).
Ready to get the (incredibly professional) goss? Your demo is waiting…
Convinced? We knew you would be.
Building a strong brand is a no-brainer: you get employees who are proud to work for you, applicants banging down your door, profitable recognition in the marketplace, an edge on the competition, a much easier ride when it comes to expansion, loyal customers for life, a serious amount of credibility in your industry, and marketing that brings home the bacon.
As more and more brands spring up to inundate your customer base with rival messaging, it’s up to you to leave them in no doubt over who to choose. Make your brand strong, and success will surely follow.
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