In troubled times marketing and advertising are often seen as unaffordable luxuries which are quickly pared back or scrapped altogether. Just when they need to shout loudest, reminding customers why their products and services are still worth buying, too many companies disappear from view, cowering in the shadows in the vain hope enough of their existing customers will both remain loyal and have the resources available to keep spending. It’s a forlorn hope for all but the luckiest. For everyone else the money saved from cut marketing budgets is soon eaten away and the stark reality of failure looms. The grim reaper sees into the shadows and he takes those he came for.
The answer, as already mentioned, is to stand in the sun and shout, loudly. This is the only way to remain front of mind with existing clients and to be noticed by potential new customers. What is shouted depends upon the company and it’s offering and is tailored to the target market and brand proposition. Business to business communications have a different focus to business to consumer. Both, however, have common ground, the most critical of which is trust. When money is tight trust that a service or product will be delivered on time and to specification will make or break a deal. Most of us would rather spend a little more on something we know will deliver rather than take a risk on losing money on an unreliable alternative. A polished, thoroughly executed brand suggests a successful and thriving business. A thriving business has loyal customers. Such peer recommendations are powerful and build the trust we all look for. A weak ‘thrown together in Word’ brand or mistakes in its implementation suggests unprofessionalism and/or a lack of resources from dwindling sales, which suggest a poor product/service. This creates dis-trust. And pushes potential customers towards competitors.
A well considered and executed brand creates trust as it communicates success through the confidence to invest in the brand as well as professionalism through the awareness of the value of the brand. It also builds a personality which customers can identify with and aspire to.
A brand has power in its long arms, which stretch far beyond logotype, look and feel and tone of voice. It embraces every member of staff and colours the way they feel and interact, not only with each other, but also with customers and suppliers. Every brand is ultimately experiential. Every touchpoint plays its part – website, literature, packaging, advert, stationery, service… Even the ‘hello’ when the phone is answered. A positive experience builds acceptance of, openness to and identification with the brand. This leads to trust which leads to the hallowed ground of loyalty and repeat custom.
These are grey days in dour times, which makes this the perfect time to add some colour and energy to your brand, the perfect time to get out there and shout at everyone! Engagement is key. A constant and evolving process it encompasses everything, from a memorable logo, through a joyful website to clever advertising and happy, smiling service.
It does require investment, but it does bring rewards.