branding

A strong brand allows consumer advocates to spread your company’s messaging and offerings to a larger audience.

It’s interesting how some words have evolved over the years and taken on new meanings and value. To historians, the word “brand” dates all the way back to 2700 BC, but it was popularized in the 19th century by American cattlemen who branded their livestock to identify who owned them.

To marketers today, brand represents a product or service. In recent years, it’s come to be embraced by a growing segment of consumers as a symbol of a company’s values. Howard Schultz, former CEO at Starbucks, explained  it best when he said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”

Importance of a Strong Brand

64% of consumers say they support brands because of a shared value, according to Sevenality, a digital branding firm. And to strengthen the point, the company said that the first transaction is the most important in gaining their loyalty, according to 48% of customers. Brand loyalty is also key to customer retention and the best form of peer-to-peer support.

Penefit, a brand loyalty rewards vendor, confirmed the merits of customer retention. The company stated that it cost five to ten times more to find new customers than retaining existing ones. Existing customers spend 67% more than new ones, added the firm.

Building a Brand in 2020

Producing quality products and delivering good customer service remain critical to a company’s success. To take it a level higher, brands might consider advocating for a particular cause that not only aligns with their brand, but also to their target audience(s) – this is when building a brand comes into play. Today’s younger market of Generation Z and millennials are more socially aware and inclined to support companies whose values align with theirs.

One of the keys for marketers in any industry is learning as much as possible about their public(s), not just from a consumer perspective, but also their values. What is their average income and net worth? What are their social, business, community and other interests? Other things like their occupations, education levels, and buying styles are also important to know.

Buying styles can be revealing. For clothiers, are the company’s customers ethnic explorers who are curious and willing to try, or buyers of premium brands? For food suppliers, do they prefer fresh/healthy or quick/easy or natural or weight-conscious products?

Do lots of research. Surveys can deliver valuable information from which to gather and analyze data. Focus groups are even better, as they allow a facilitator to dig deeper into areas that demand more detail. 

Should the brand decide to advocate for or about something, ensure that there’s a communications strategy and a plan to roll it out. If possible, identify and recruit others in the community for support and endorsements.

Encourage feedback but be sure to respond to comments both negative and positive. It’s important to nurture all feedback as it also instills loyalty to the brand. Be particularly aware of customers who leave comments that draw lots of feedback. They might possibly be recruited as micro-influencers.

Finally, ensure that all necessary departments are aboard and kept informed about the strategy. It’s equally important that goals with timelines be set. Assess, report, and be prepared to adjust the plan as it evolves.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.