You know what they say about opinions — everybody has one. And with access to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, we all have a personal platform to share our opinions, no matter the context, background, or understanding.
How does this relate to branding?
First, when I’m talking about your brand, I’m not talking about your logo, or your tagline, or your SEO-optimized website. I’m talking about your company’s personality and reputation. When I talk about your brand, I’m talking about what runs through someone’s mind when he or she hears your name.
When it comes to branding in the digital age, it’s best to take the proactive route: inform your consumers, creatively and often, so you can control the dialogue about your brand and company. In any industry, the best way to foster loyalty among your consumers is to create a solid and favorable brand identity.
How Brand Identity Creates Consumer Loyalty
Let’s play a game. Like a word association, except with business names.
But what if I said Chipotle…
Yes, what about Chipotle?
It’s so delicious, and easy, and I know they use fresh ingredients … but there was that E. Coli debacle a couple of years ago … and I think they handled it pretty well. I heard they changed a lot of food safety processes and took it seriously, so I guess that’s good, right? I know they gave away a lot of free food after that, which was cool.
Chipotle Mexican Grill boasts perhaps one of the strongest brand identities of any current restaurant chain. Its commitment to clean ingredients, continuous push towards sustainability, and heartwarming video montages that subtly boast the chain’s unique approach to giving customers “real food” set Chipotle apart from fast food competitors.
It’s quite simple, really — Chipotle has positioned itself in a way that makes the brand trustworthy. So trustworthy, in fact, that many customers publicly scoffed in the face of the threat of E. Coli, and made their loyalty known to the chain. These were Chipotle loyalists through thick and thin.
I don’t know anybody who actually stopped eating Chipotle because of E. coli. It’s a risk I’m sure willing to take every day
— isaiah edoho (@IEdoho171) March 30, 2017
If you’re willing to forgive Chipotle their sins, you’re not alone. After over a year of struggling to make a comeback after their fall 2015 E. Coli outbreak, in December 2016, they finally saw an increase in restaurant sales again — an increase of almost 15%.
How Do They Do It? By Building Brand Identity.
The first step to making others believe in your brand is, of course, knowing what you are asking them to believe.
What makes your brand unique?
What makes your brand trustworthy?
Once you’ve nailed down the driving force behind your individual brand, building a following is as simple as using the digital methods of communication that are available to you. Some rules for digital branding include:
- Be genuine: Be honest about the products and the services you offer, and create your brand image around them. Consistency will go a long way in creating a recognizable digital personality for your brand.
- Be social: Interact with your followers on Instagram and Twitter; regularly disseminate relevant information on Facebook. Try contests and giveaways for brand promotion, or simply commit to updating your blog regularly so that followers can get to know your business on a more personal level. Social media allows your company its own free platform to spread real, factual, positive information about your brand.
- Be transparent: Crises happen, and businesses have to adapt. From big company changes to full-blown crisis management, transparency is always the best policy. Let your consumers in on the secret, apologize when necessary, and let your audience be active participants as you work through changes or problem solve.
Need help crafting your brand image, or finding the right voice for your business’s online presence? Reunion Marketing can help you get down to the roots of your company personality. If you have any questions, or want to discuss branding in more detail, our team is ready to work with you to build your online reputation.