Not long ago, when the internet was consigned to being solely the slow domain of Star Trek fan-fiction writers and ‘visionary’ university professors, brand management for the smaller business was a simple affair. Ensuring that employees showered daily could serve as effective brand management.
Free marketing was resigned to word-of-mouth recommendations and attractive window dressing. Now, however, the metaphorical shop window has been extended to give customers, potential customers and perpetual critics a panoramic view of your brand, your employees and your business endeavours.
Twitter wars and bad TripAdvisor reviews can leave indelible stains on your company’s reputation that extend further than word-of-mouth complaints ever could. This has made it more important than ever to maintain a healthy business ethic and keep all customers satisfied.
Create a Brand Identity
If you have numerous employees representing your brand online across various platforms, it is important that a consistent brand identity is created and perpetuated throughout. The removal of unexpected and unwelcome surprises and an instilled consistency can help customers place their trust in the brand.
Brand identity extends further than a logo and colour scheme for uniforms. Create an ideal spokesperson for your brand complete with a full lexicon and personality, and infuse that throughout all marketing and public relation endeavours.
BrewDog Brewery offered a perfect example of sticking to your guns and retaining brand personality. The brand was criticised by drinks standards panel, Portman Group, for reportedly encouraging binge drinking. BrewDog co-founder James Wyatt’s official response labelled Portman Group a ‘gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths’. Rather than offering a retraction devoid of personality, BrewDog’s response was labelled by some as the ‘best corporate statement of all time.’
This retort fits perfectly into the ethics of the brand which identifies itself and its product range as passionately unique.
Whilst your brand identity doesn’t necessarily have to be so combative, it needs to be representative of the company’s ethics and appeal to the target audience.
Be Real and Personable
Tesco has long been faced with difficult brand management. Often facing backlash for perceived unethical operations and employing millions of staff, it will have been tempting for their decision-makers to assume a faceless identity and hide behind it. The brand has boiled down its brand guideline and given dedicated social media staff instructions on how to represent Tesco online.
The social media team at Tesco and Tesco Mobile have come out fighting and have produced one of the UK’s most popular corporate Twitter accounts. Willing to engage with online banter and responding hilariously to abuse has seen Tesco Mobile being named the coolest mobile network ever by the US site Social News Daily and featured innumerate times on Buzzfeed.
The social media channels of Tesco have gone some way to adding a personable identity to a large corporation.
Always be Honest
Fabricated testimonials and reviews may seem like a fantastic idea when implementing a brand management plan, but customers should be treated with greater respect. The vast, vast majority of internet users are savvy enough to see through testimonials such as:
“[Brand name] are exceptional. They truly went above and beyond the call of duty when providing the service that they provide so well. I would recommend it to everybody and their competitors are truly woeful in comparison. Plus their staff are all super sexy!”
Publicising positive reviews can be extremely helpful in turning potential customers into actual customers, but these reviews need to be presented in a manner that make it immediately obvious that they are genuine. Reviews links to the social media accounts of the reviewers strongly but subtly imply that they have come from a genuine source.
Share your Expertise and Show your Passion
Customers are more likely to place their trust in a brand that is passionate about their product or their service. Use blogs and social media channels to share your expertise and demonstrate passion for the industry that you are involved in.
We all want to believe that chefs are crafting dishes because they have a burning desire within them to feed the world and perfect the art of cooking. Emerging burger restaurant Almost Famous has developed a loyal Twitter following with their teasing updates and passionate descriptions of burgers. Followers are led to believe that the Almost Famous team are cooking these burgers out of an implicit love of great food – creating devotion and trust.
Customers are wary of businesses which they believe are involved in the industry just to earn a quick buck, preferring to take their business to passionate experts.
Evolve and Grow
Sitting still for just a short period of time can lead to internet stagnation. The fast-moving and instant-sharing nature of the internet and social media gives fads a very short shelf-life, making the period of penetration very short lived. Memes and trends can become passé incredibly quickly and soon become a poor iteration of self. Mass use of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster soon made it clichéd and irritating.
Keep abreast of memes and trends at all times to get a slice of the action whilst the pie is still hot. Confused metaphors aside, it is always worth monitoring 4Chan – the sometimes daunting source of innumerate internet trends. Whilst much of the content is tasteless, many internet sensation have gained initial popularity on 4Chan including Chocolate Rain, Rickrolling and more.
Applying these trends to your brand can help you stay ahead of the game and develop a stronger and more involved brand identity.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Source: Peter Dutton, Bernt Rostad , Tyrgyzistan, Iain Farrell