There’s an old adage that maintains you should dare to be different. These days, it’s less a maxim than it is a statement of truth. Even as many businesses dial down marketing spending amidst the coronavirus pandemic, we live in a sea of digital noise.
We are constantly pulled in a hundred different directions as countless businesses continue to compete for our attention and engagement. In such a climate, any brand that cannot properly define itself is destined to be ignored, overlooked in favor of more interesting competitors.
There are a plethora of ways that you can differentiate your brand from its competitors but today, I’m going to narrow the list down to some of what I think are the most important ones. Continue reading if you’re ready to cut through the noise and help navigate your brand towards the forefront of your audiences.
Focus on Who You Are, Not What You Do
Let’s say you operate a digital clothing store. What is it about that clothing store that makes it stand out from all the other ones on the web? I’m not just talking about the products you offer, although that certainly plays into it.
I’m talking about your brand’s identity. Think about who your audience is, and what sort of messaging and approach would resonate most effectively with them. And don’t come up with a generic messaging plan, do research on your competitors, see what they’re doing, and then define how you can take what they did and make it better.
This can be a bit daunting at first so let’s narrow down our above example a bit. Let’s say your store primarily sells clothing intended for twentysomething creatives.
Your brand’s personality will need to be compelling to those people. You’ll need visual elements in your logo and imagery that establish your organization as creatively-oriented. More importantly, you’ll need to study and understand how your audience speaks so you can shape your own language accordingly. There’s also audio branding.
Don’t be afraid to create content that’s polarizing, provided it’s on-brand for you.
Consider the Customer Experience
Modern marketing is not about selling a product. It’s about building relationships and engaging with your audience. Reflect on ads that have driven you to make a purchase. Did you get a sense that the brand was trying to build an authentic connection with you or simply just trying to get a quick sale? The answer is most obviously and probably, the first option.
Your goal here is to do everything in your power to understand your audience and use that understanding to shape both your marketing efforts and your products and services. More importantly, with every post you make and every product you release, ask yourself how it provides value to your audience. Put your customers first, and they’ll most likely remember you in the future, as well as return the favor.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Always respond to reviews, both positive and negative. In the case of the latter, endeavor to do whatever you can to address the issue your customer had with your business.
- Be present on social media. Respond to all customer complaints, queries, and requests in as timely a fashion as you are able. Show off your brand’s personality. Don’t be bland in your responses, keep them engaging (while staying on-brand).
- Make sure the sales process is as seamless and painless as possible for customers that do decide to purchase from your brand.
- Offer a flexible return policy for your products or services. When deciding between two brands, a buyer will most likely go with the one that has a better return policy (given the products are of similar value).
- For your brand imagery, think about how visuals impact the customer experience and adjust accordingly. Check out what Heinz recently did with their condiments line.
- Conduct regular surveys so you have a finger on the pulse of your audience’s needs and desires.
Create Excellent Content
It’s been said on more than one occasion that content is king. This holds as true today as it always has. Whether you’re creating blog posts, infographics, video content, or social posts, every single piece of content you put out needs to be to the highest standards.
It also needs to have a purpose, and that purpose needs, in some way, to provide value to your audience. This could involve answering questions for them, providing them with assistance like how-tos, or simply entertaining them. If you’re stuck on what sort of content to create, simply look at your competition.
Look at what they’re doing and consider what they aren’t doing – because that content gap represents an opportunity for your brand.
Especially during a time where most of the world is in quarantine, online events are a great way to drive branding.
A distinctive personality and voice, served by unique visual branding. High-quality content. A focus on the customer’s needs above all else. These are the elements of an effective brand and they’re precisely what you need to stand out from your competitors.
Take what I mentioned above and put it into practice. Track the data and see how it has improved your performance YoY. If you have the time, it might also help to do a few surveys if you’re stuck on specific aspects of your branding that have a multitude of different routes you would like to take.
Terry Cane is the COO at SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner. You can follow/tweet her @SEOhostnet