The explosion of social media has created a content war in which only the strongest brands win.
In a climate where anyone can easily and rapidly reach wide audiences through a number of channels, entrepreneurs are struggling to generate content to engage customers and appear knowledgeable.
We all know the internet is a major component of daily life in 2019, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around just how far it’s influence extends. Here are some stats you should know:
- The internet has approximately 3.17 billion users.
- Of these internet users, 2.3 billion are active on social media.
- U.S. adults spend nearly 11 hours a day interacting with media.
- 91% of retail brands use an average of five social media channels to grab the attention of potential customers.
Any business that isn’t taking advantage of their potential online reach in a strategic way is missing a major opportunity to shape their public perception.
A recent report shows that people believe 60% of the content that companies publish isn’t relevant to them and, frankly, isn’t even good. In other words, these billions of potential customers are demanding. To reach them, companies have to be smart.
In today’s content swamp, it’s crucial to take steps to create a brand identity that sticks in customer’s minds and sets your brand apart. Here’s how:
1. Pinpoint your core values.
Identify what makes your company unique and let that guide your core values.
If you’re having trouble identifying them, that’s okay. Ask yourself the following:
- Why did I start this business?
- What beliefs are important to my company?
- What do we do better than anyone else?
- What three words would we use to describe our brand?
- How can I integrate these values on my brand’s social media presence?
Whether you want your brand to reflect you as the creator (think Dr. Bronner’s) or you want a more general corporate image (like Google), it’s critical to define your identity and stick to it.
How customers perceive your brand is communicated through everything that is associated with the company—your logo, values, how you handle customer relations, etc. But to remain competitive today, this should translate across your social media channels.
Whether you’re an early-stage startup or a Fortune 500 company, your company’s digital footprint should embody the brand image.
2. Adapt those core values to digital trends.
Staying true to your identity while also accounting for changing market forces is challenging, but very possible.
Last year, for example, Amazon’s voice assistant products like Echo and Alexa dominated the market. By creating and marketing devices designed to make things as easy as possible for users, Amazon delivered on their company mission to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Echo and Alexa strengthened Amazon’s brand identity by making it easier than ever for customers to get what they want when they want it. By focusing on its core value, Amazon gives its customers a low-friction shopping experience using voice and fosters trust that Amazon will always put them first.
In other words, Amazon capitalized on the popularity of voice-enabled AI while also furthering their long-held company message.
Once you’ve figured out who you are, bring that identity to life and build and market products around that identity.
3. Humanize your brand.
Adding a human touch is critical for brands today’s digital world.
Studies show that 83% of U.S. consumers prefer to deal with human beings over digital channels or other forms of automation, which they perceive as inauthentic.
One of the unique qualities that makes us human is the way we talk and interact with others. Everyone has their own way of talking that forms a part of their personality. Teenagers, for example, use internet slang like “lit,” “mood” and “truu” in ways that weren’t used before. Doctors and lawyers tend to speak more formally, while technocrats tend towards casual diction. So for your brand to become more human, it needs a unique voice that fits the overall image it wants to portray.
Say, for example, that you’re a reputable sports brand. Your voice would need to be authoritative and motivating, but not overly formal. Or if you’re a skincare brand, you’ll need to maintain a voice that’s caring and soothing as well as dependable.
You can also make your social media interactions more personal by signing your posts.
If you have a team that handles your social media posts, make sure each person adds their name to the posts they create. This shows your audience that there are real people behind the post and lets them know who they’re talking to.
Whether you’re responding to a tweet, sending customers a handwritten note, or writing copy on your website, if you take a personalized approach, you will leave a lasting impression on your customers.
4. Use social media influencers to boost credibility.
Social media influencers are a great way to personalize your brand and bring in new customers.
Studies show that customers look to social media influencers for product recommendations and reviews before they decide to make a purchase. Influencers are real people who are seen as authority figures in their respective fields. They’re perceived experts customers can rely on for honest recommendations—they help sell a lifestyle to wide audiences.
That said, keep in mind that influencers tend to be selective about their affiliations and only partner with brands that reflect their values and won’t alienate their followers.
Alex Gastle, who founded the marketing company Vetterview, said that “[w]orking with influencers that not only have established relationships with your target audience but also believe in your message is key to crafting consumer brand perception.”
You could, say, organize a campaign in which a relevant influencer takes over your social media for a day and creates content on your behalf. Fiji Water, for instance, partnered with fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein last year to offer eight-minute workout videos with Bernstein and personal trainer Eric Johnson. The campaign was meant to demonstrate Fiji’s commitment to hydrating people who want to feel as fit as Bernstein. And for Black Friday, Old Navy partnered with former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA). Rodriguez’s promotion helped Old Navy raise $1 million during Black Friday sales alone.
These are just a few examples of how influencer campaigns work to establish brand identity and drive sales.
Your brand is more than just a logo. Building an effective brand identity takes years of hard work and constant re-evaluating, but it’s necessary for your company’s success.