5 Big Lessons from the World’s Top Branding Experts

Are you trying to expand your brand? Looking to start exporting goods? Or do you just want to get your brand’s reputation off the ground? Whatever stage your brand’s at, it’s important that you find the right ways to propel it forward into your chosen industry. To help you along, we’ve collated some advice from the world’s top branding experts to bring you 5 important lessons that any brand can learn from.

Branding Experts Tell You to Discover the Story Behind Your Business

Customers don’t want to spend lots of time trying to find out what you can offer them, which is why many branding experts believe that you need to get to the point quickly. You need to find a way of telling your brand’s story, choosing the details that are going to be most engaging and informative for your customer. (Think about that person you always avoid at parties because they take an hour to tell a five-minute story and you’ll understand exactly what you’re trying to do for your customers!)

Iain Bluett, co-founder of Freshtex, found that when he launched his company he had a higher rate of engagement when using brief emails and short videos to showcase his brand. These got straight to the point unlike other longer forms of content, capturing people’s attention quickly without lots of unnecessary jargon.

James Cotton, the founder, and director of Onespacemedia (a digital creative agency), also feels that an effective way of engaging the audience is to use a humanistic approach. He cites the trend of telling a founder’s story for technology startups, which he believes is a great conversation starter and covers the often forgotten part of a business – the people behind it.

Build Relationships that Create Opportunities for Your Business

To get the biggest return on investment, Lewis Howes, former professional football player and host of The School of Greatness podcast, suggests that you make friends and develop relationships. He believes that many opportunities for businesses arise out of these initial connections, and these will only come about if you go out there and find them. He also comments that you shouldn’t just network with influencers but should also try to make friends with them.

And thanks to technology, making friends is much easier than it was on your first day at school! Make connections and build professional relationships by attending local events, discovering people who are willing to engage with you on social media and connecting with people through online forums.

Be Consistent with Your Brand and Its Message

Being consistent is something that seems straightforward but over time, it can be easy to deviate from the original brand messages that you put in place. However, a number of experts believe that one of the keys to establishing and maintaining a good reputation is to be consistent in how you portray your brand and follow its key commitments.

For example, Marlee Ward, founder of Radical Entrepreneur, believes that a brand isn’t just about a logo or name. Instead, it’s about the overall experience that’s provided to the customer and if you’re not consistent with this, customers are going to question why they should invest their time and money into you. There are plenty of other choices out there for them so be clear in what you’re going to offer them but then make sure you offer them this without fail.

Jessica Kupferman, founder, and host of Lady Business Radio, adds to this by saying that if you deviate from the look of your brand, even if it’s only slight, you’re going to confuse the customer. You should be married to your brand, making sure it reflects your personality and you. Then, by being yourself (warts and all), you’ll make sure your brand retains its strength and consistency.

Make Key Business Decisions, Using Your Brand as a Filter

Once you’ve developed your brand’s unique promise, this provides you with the perfect filter for all of those important decisions that you’ll need to make, suggests Julie Cottineau, founder, and CEO of BrandTwist. Some of these decisions will be what you’re going to charge customers, what new services / products you’re going to offer and how you can use social media to effectively drive your brand’s mission.

By developing a strong brand, it helps you to make these crucial decisions with more precision and within a shorter period of time. Good brands will drive forward their message at every touch point with the customer. Cottineau uses Starbucks as an example suggesting that they don’t just say that they’re about community and coffee – they prove it. When you walk into a Starbucks, you can feel their brand promise being realized and they do this by using everything from the comfy seats they provide to the baristas that are donned in green aprons.

Be Ethical. Be Transparent. Be Honest. And Change Negative Opinions.

Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc., believes that when you’re looking to improve your online reputation, you need to have a moral compass and be honest, transparent and ethical. She also suggests that when people say a company has a “PR problem” when negative comments about them go public, this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it’s just an elaborate excuse because the true problem lies in their customer service or business operations or executions. And until they’ve fixed these things internally, they’re never going to be able to improve their brand’s reputation.

If a company needs to clean up a previous process or executive team, Dietrich points them in the direction of online searches. They should search all of the social networks for “I hate [COMPANY NAME]” and take a look around all of the review sites, e.g. Yelp, to find out what people are saying (warning – you may need some Dutch courage to get you through this part!). Then, they need to reply to all of these people, offering to chat with them to prove how they’ve changed. They then need to create content that showcases how their brand has changed and how their processes are different. It won’t happen overnight but eventually the brand’s reputation will start to shift in the right direction.



How to Create a Brand Without Blowing Your Reputation

If you’re new to the business world you may be looking at creating a website, developing your products / services and marketing yourself to a plethora of customers. But did you know that one of the most important aspects when you create a brand is to build a good reputation?

If your brand’s reputation gets tarnished, even just a little bit, you might as well wave goodbye to some potential and current customers. But build and keep a strong reputation around your brand and you’ll give yourself a good chance of earning loyal fans and customers. Consider yourself the Justin Bieber of the digital world.

However, before you can start thinking about preserving your reputation, you need to build your brand. So, here are some tips as to how you can establish and build a positive reputation for your brand:


Create a Brand with a Positive Reputation

  1. Be Yourself

Regardless of whether your brand’s offline or online focused, it needs to revolve around who you are, what you do and how you want other people to perceive you. You need to be yourself – not a Justin Bieber cabaret act.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), the definition of a brand is a design, symbol, sign, term or name (or a combination of these) that are used to identify the services or goods of a seller and to distinguish them from other sellers. When you can consistently manage this, you’ll be able to establish credibility and customer loyalty, delivering your brand’s message with clarity.

  1. Be Engaging

Now you’ve defined your brand, you need to get out there and start engaging with your specific industry / community and with influencers. You need to start sharing your expertise, asking questions and contacting industry leaders. Networking within your niche will enable you to establish relationships with other people in your industry, creating a pool of contacts that could have a whole host of future possibilities. Remember – this is not about making a sales pitch worthy of any American auto salesman.

  1. Be Creative with Your Content

Once you’ve connected with like-minded individuals, you need to start bringing your own content to the table. This will enable you to engage your audience and will showcase your expertise, hopefully bringing justified recognition to your brand. The content you create should be of an exceptional quality and should compel your readers. It needs to be informing, entertaining or useful, and most importantly, it needs to be something that people will share.

Need some inspiration? Just take a look at your Facebook and Twitter feed to see what content’s being shared and what’s gone viral. Videos involving cats always seem to do the trick.

  1. Be Protective

Now you’re getting your brand’s name out there, you need to protect it. Monitor what’s being said about your brand by using tools such as Hootsuite or Google Alerts. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can make sure no-one’s wrongfully trying to tarnish your brand name and diminish your reputation.

Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at monitoring this and preventing negative comments, you are still going to find people saying bad things about your brand. This is unavoidable. But instead of taking these comments to heart and reacting in the wrong way, you need to have a crisis plan in place, just in case this negativity starts to take hold. It’s a worst case scenario but it’s better to be prepared for all eventualities.

  1. Be Mindful of Your Offline Reputation, Too

While online reputations are increasingly dominant, it’s important that you keep tabs on your offline reputation as well, especially if you have local bricks-and-mortar stores. You need to keep your customer base happy because this will help you to develop brand advocates and brand loyalty. It’s so important that you don’t forget the true value of word-of-mouth because as the AMA found, 64% of marketers feel this is the most effective form of marketing.

Making your customers happy need not be difficult either as it’s all about listening to your customer so you can create an outstanding experience for them. And as soon as you start to notice any negative comments, find out what the cause is straight away. Don’t just dismiss bad feedback as “a crazy customer who doesn’t know what they’re talking about” (even though it’s likely that they are!) because if you don’t manage this properly, your brand could be facing serious problems with its reputation, both online and offline.

How to Blow Your Reputation

When we talk about blowing your reputation, we’re not just talking about an epic Justin Bieber-esque drink-drive arrest because reputations can be affected by much more subtle things. Sometimes, as business picks up and you start to get busy doing other things, monitoring your brand’s reputation can fall by the wayside. Here are some of the things you need to avoid so you don’t blow your reputation:

  1. Paying for Positive Reviews

As you start to build your brand it can be all too tempting to pay someone to create some positive reviews to get your reputation off the ground. But don’t, because this could have the opposite effect on what you’re trying to do. If Google finds fake reviews, they’ll punish your website, pushing it lower in the results so your online reputation is damaged even more.

  1. Encouraging the Trolls

Trolls are all over the Internet and they’re constantly looking for ways they can post negative comments to get a reaction from people. These keyboard warriors need no encouragement, so if you do get a negative comment, don’t fire back with an angry comment because this will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, acknowledge the comment and ask the person to get in touch with you directly so you can discuss it further (by phone or email, for example). In most cases, you won’t even hear from them because a pleasant remark is not the response they’re looking for!

  1. Creating Lies

Equally, you don’t want to turn into one of those trolls who hides behind their computer screen creating lies, making up bogus information about products and services. Feel free to be elaborate in how you describe what your company does (a little exaggeration never hurt anyone, did it?) but avoid placing any false information out there. Being honest and open is far more likely to get you good brand recognition, even if there are some initial flaws in your plan.

  1. Ignoring the Customer

The customer is the reason you’ve got a business so looking after them is paramount if you want to maintain your reputation. And whilst the phrase, “The customer’s always right” may be said through gritted teeth sometimes, you should never ignore a customer, no matter how angry or wrong they are. This gives the impression that you don’t care so always respond to any queries in a prompt and professional manner as this will cast your company in a positive light, even if you can’t provide the right solution for the customer all of the time.

In summary; to create a brand, you need to first establish who you are and what you want to achieve. Then you need to propel yourself into your industry, creating valuable content and honest advice, all the while monitoring your brand’s reputation, dealing with any negativity in the appropriate way.