Coke. Nike. Apple. These companies’ names and logos conjure images, provoke emotions and stick in our minds. The reason for this, quite simply, is branding. Based on cattle brands from the days of the Wild West, branding has evolved to encompass much more than a business’ logo and tagline.
Branding is concept that’s difficult to define and even more slippery to identify. I think it’s best summed up as the promise you make to your customers. Coke promises refreshment. Apple, innovation. Nike, fitness. Furthermore, your brand conveys what your customers can expect from you, and how you are different from others.
And although you may associate branding only with the “big boys” mentioned above, after working in the contact center space for more than 15 years, I’ve come to understand that brand awareness is equally important for smaller businesses. In fact, I’d argue it’s especially essential for companies who are newcomers in their fields. The start-ups and up-starts who understand – and are connected to – their brands are the ones who succeed.
SingleComm’s brand identity is very strong because we have considered (and continue to revisit) who we are, who we want to be and who people perceive us to be. Yes, branding can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you’re probably already thinking about it and, on some level, doing it. To gain a better understanding of your brand – and begin to shape it accordingly – start by answering the following:
Sounds simple enough, right? But think about it this way, what product or service do you offer that makes life easier for your customer? At SingleComm, for example, we make life easier for contact center managers by providing technology that allows their operations to run more efficiently, and therefore be more profitable. What solution do you bring to the market?
If I had to choose one of these four considerations as the most important, it’s this one because it defines your audience. It drives me crazy when business leaders tell me their target audience is “all businesses.” Even “all small businesses” raises my hackles. Get specific! For example, in the answer above, notice that I said “contact center managers,” not “business leaders,” or “everyone.” This answer will guide all of your future marketing efforts, from your stationery to your website.
This is the differentiation question. What sets you apart from all the others who do the same thing for the same people as you? Traditionally, the answer to this question had to do with quality or cost. You were either the best, or the cheapest. That’s not true anymore. In fact, according to new research, consumers are starting to rank customer experience above both quality and cost. AND, they have reported they are willing to spend more on a product that offers better customer experience. So, get creative here. Are you the tried-and-true service provider with 27/7 support, or the innovator who solves problems from a new angle?
In other words, “So what?” Dig into why your differentiator is important for your customers. Does the fact that you offer 24/7 support mean they can sleep at night, or that your innovation means they don’t have to work overtime trying to figure out what’s next for their business? At SingleComm, our “so what?” is based on contributing to contact centers’ profitability.
One final thought: try to involve several people in this exercise. If you can get a trusted, long-time customer, all the better. You don’t have to take a four-day retreat to make it happen. In fact, everyone can email their answers, then meet to discuss. I predict there will be a wide variety of answers to the above questions. And although that’s OK, you will want to come to some consensus on these basic questions, as they form the foundation of your brand.
Written by Wade Hauser - Get in Touch!
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