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, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.