Last week I talked about the first two steps of brand building: awareness and understanding, and developing brand associations and meaning. Just to refresh, if you have seen the delightful holiday movie Elf, you are familiar with the endearing qualities of child-like hope and wonder “Buddy the Elf” exudes. How endearing is your brand to your customers? What do you your customers believe and understand about your brand? Using “Buddy the Elf” as an example for the four steps to brand building, this week we’ll discuss steps three and four: developing brand identification and meaning, and developing relationships with customers. Here is a link to last’s week blog addressing steps one and two. http://www.womenonbusiness.com/building-your-brand-“buddy-the-elf”-style-part-1/.
Step 3: Branding Identification and Brand Meaning: What does Buddy mean to you?
Now that you’ve had a chance to get to know Buddy a bit, what is your general opinion about him? Would you want to know him better? Do you trust him? Does he care about what you think and feel about him? Does it seem like he cares about you? Buddy is warm, exciting, unique, and fun. Branding is defined as a collection of unique associations that lie in the minds of your customers. What words do your customers associate with your brand? Do they fulfill an emotional need, want or desire?
You may recall from the movie that the children accepted Buddy, trusted him, and cared about him, and he always made them feel special. As for your brand, how are your customers feeling about your brand now that your prospective customers have some knowledge about you from steps one and two? If they are feeling your brand understands them and their needs, is innovative, is a good value, and cares about them, they are now ready to jump in and interact with you. Are you ready??
Step 4: Brand Loyalty: Would you hang out with Buddy on a regular basis?
After getting two thirds of the way into the movie, most likely, you are endeared to Buddy at this point…or are you? What would you miss about Buddy if he went away? How would his absence affect you or the children? Is there a replacement?
This is the same for your brand. Brand loyalty is key to cultivating repeat customers who spread positive word of mouth feedback about your product or service. If you understand your customer and what keeps them up at night, you’re on your way to developing a deep emotional relationship with them providing you can deliver the promise in your brand message. The children, or even adults for that matter, aren’t “buying” Buddy because they need an elf in their lives. They are buying hope, nostalgia, and belief in something bigger…something they can’t explain that touches their emotional core. The majority of our purchases are emotional regardless of how rational we think we are being at the point of purchase.
In the movie, Santa’s sleigh breaks down in Central Park and in turn, he begs Buddy to make the repair so that he can be on his way to deliver gifts around the world. Buddy states, “I’m not an elf Santa…I can’t do anything right!” Santa confidently replies, “Buddy, you’re more of an elf than anyone I ever met. And the only one I would want working on my sleigh tonight.” Be your customer’s elf…the only company believed to be able to do the job right and on time—the one they can’t do without and wouldn’t think about seeking out an alternative. How would you feel if Buddy failed at repairing the sleigh? What would you think then? How would your customers feel if your company let them down?
Much of developing the loyalty factor comes from inside your business. How well is your staff living your brand? Are they offering customers the best experience? Buddy had an “affinity for the elf culture” which makes him believable and convincing. And it is expected that Buddy will come through with spreading Christmas spirit when needed each and every time. Be believable, build relationships, tug at the emotional core, and make them talk and wanting more. Sometimes “it’s all about believing and not seeing.”
Cheers to successful brand building!