Many people are familiar with the adage, “fake it ‘til you make it,” but that has been replaced with, “you can’t make it if you fake it.” When you are creating a new business, you should consider the brand you’ll use. You must establish your target audience, create a strong mission statement, choose specific fonts and colors for your brand, design an enticing logo, and form a strong, aesthetic, recognizable and audible voice. And you do not stop there. You need to maintain your brand by making sure it maintains authenticity in all your projects, new content for publishing, your new staff, influencers, and the brands you choose to partner with.
Hamish Campbell says that businesses are chasing trends without a proper balance with the truth. This makes them lose sight of their reason for existence, and has resulted in Brand Faux-Thenticity or False Authenticity. Such acts make businesses lose productivity, customers, and amass extra costs since the brand is grappling with something it can never be. Campbell asserts that business’ should draw inspiration from their brand, as opposed to attempting every new trend on the market. Read on to find what you can do to design and maintain an authentic brand.
What do consumers see when they see your brand?
In the current world, consumers rely on brands to build their identities and lives. You cannot afford to build a weak brand since it won’t attract much attention from potential consumers. Customers are increasingly choosing brands other than just the item on sale. They require a brand that is in tandem with how they view the world. If a brand loses its identity and departs from its core truths and founding principles, the customers will realize it instantly. They will wait a little for the brand to regain its lost identity, before choosing a new one they can identify with. You cannot fool your consumers when they have connected brands to their lifestyle. They don’t just want a service or product.
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Building an authentic brand
1. Create an approved brand guide
Your business will hire new staff every now and then. If you don’t want to start from scratch every time a new employee arrives, you should write everything down; business goals, best practices and tutorials, brand, brand guide, and expectations. A brand guide should have everything a business needs to exist. It should incorporate a mission statement, competitor analysis, brand fonts and colors, target audience, a clear illustration of the voices you’ve chosen, and the sample works. You will find it easy to train new staff, since every initial training session will be the same. Your company will also maintain its brand for a long time.
2. Understand the purpose of the brand
This is the initial step towards building an authentic brand. The purpose of a brand reveals its ethos, and the story behind it. You need to know the reason behind the creation of the brand, the place it originated, and whether the designers intended to align to luxurious beauty, impeccable taste, sustainability, and fair trade. The reasons behind the existence of your brand are numerous, but you need to select a few that will be the core tenets of your business. Once you choose the reason(s) that hold your business together, you will see customers begin to align themselves with the design. Your brand should hold together, even when the trends of business are against it. It should be sustainable and easy to preserve.
3. Ask for feedback from customers so you can improve and grow your brand
A customer is always right. You should endeavor to listen to your customers regardless of the industry you are working in. Feedback is an important tool in building a strong brand. Look for feedback from potential customers, social media followers, and existing clients. Since you build a brand to attract the following you currently have, you should appreciate the feedback that customers provide. Give them what they ask for. You are not the one consuming the product or service; let them dictate how they want your service or product to be. Sophia Amoruso, an American businesswoman and the owner of Nasty Gal, says is is absolutely essential to connect with your customers. She believes most companies do not use their executive officers to man their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Sophia says that though she does not compose every tweet at Nasty Gal, she is the first person to know if there is a dissatisfied customer. Such should be the spirit of every business owner if they want the business brand to grow and be influential.
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4. Know when to say no
Most people are so excited when they launch their first website. They act as ‘yes’ people for every request that comes up, but eventually realize the tactic does not bear fruit. If you follow such a path, it is a surefire method to reduce your sphere of influence. You might end up compromising the authenticity of your brand, which could result in loss of followers since you’ve broken the trust they had in you. Regardless of the party you are collaborating with - an influencer or a brand - you need them to match with your voice, values and aesthetics. Keep your audience and clients in mind. Do you think they benefit from the partnership? Can you recommend the service or product you are advertising? If not, you’ve got your answer.
5. Be open
Whenever you are dealing with affiliate marketing, the influencers or publishers would want to cover up the fact that they got compensation for their efforts. Any influencer, sponsor, or celebrity who has had any partnership should disclose, or face the wrath of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
No one likes tricksters, so avoid such a tactic. Your customers will be happy about your honesty. They will appreciate the fact you received a certain product for free, and owning up to successes and failures in equal measure. If you have a habit of telling authentic stories, your customers will trust you. You will easily gain the trust and loyalty of people if you are open about your business. If you share any challenges you’re going through or share your financial muscle, you can easily build a large following. How do you begin being transparent? Share the success (and failures) every quarter, or every year. Write blogs about new collaborations and projects, and include the right FTC disclosures. Use Snapchat or Skype to update your audience about your company. Make sure your customers feel a part of what you’re doing.
How do you regain lost customer trust?
If your brand loses customer loyalty and faith due to falsehood, it is not easy to recover. Customers decide you have betrayed them since they identify themselves with certain brands. Therefore, a brand must act fast and respond urgently if it needs to restore lost trust. It is critical to admit the wrong quickly, and work hard to erase the negative impression in the minds of customers.
Staying true to a brand and working hard to maintain it is not a walk in the park. It calls for perseverance and openness. Customers prefer working with a brand that is transparent, and one that they can easily open up to. Do not try to be something you are not. Understand the mission of the brand, and market with confidence.
If you have more ways of growing an authentic brand, share your thoughts in the comment section below!