It can be tempting for companies to dive head first into content marketing in order to remain competitive (after all, the strategy produces three times more leads per each dollar spent; blogging alone can generate up to 55 percent more site visitors). Although their eagerness is a surefire sign of success, they will need some tools and strategies in order to make that success a reality. Perhaps the most important thing a company can do before taking this dive is solidify its brand identity.
I’m not talking about brand colors, logos or marks—I’m talking about who a company is at its core. This isn’t the easiest thing to determine, but it’s key in order to clearly communicate and effectively connect with customers, as well as create focused content.
Here are three questions every company should ask when building its brand identity:
- If my company were a person, who would it be?
It might feel odd at first to perceive your company as a person, but remember: products and services (for the most part) remain the same. Ultimately, it’s a company’s identity/personality that acquires customers and turns them into lifelong brand advocates.
So ask yourself: who is your company? For instance, would it be the knowledgeable friend who is always willing to lend a hand? Do you have wisdom to impart on others? Understanding? A certain warmth? Do you love a fast-paced environment, or could you be found sitting in a café for hours, coffee in hand, watching the world pass by?
For example, NYC-based Social Media Strategist Amanda Ciccatelli loves clothing retailer Anthropologie because the company reminds her of a trendy, knowledgeable friend who knows a thing or two about drinks and clothes.
Knowing who your company is as a person, and then projecting that image, is crucial for building a consistent and memorable brand identity. This will help you better understand your company’s core competencies and competitive differentiators; craft relevant and targeted copy; and show customers why they should be interested in what you have to offer.
- What do three ideal customers look like, and how do they differ?
Identify three different types of customers—based on criteria including characteristics, preferences and lifestyles—and create buyer personas for them. A buyer persona is a fictional (albeit realistic) representation of these ideal customers, based on the abovementioned criteria, to help you understand their goals, motivations, etc.
For example, as a clothing retailer, you may have created a buyer persona called “Affluent Amanda,” a woman in her early to late 40’s who has money to spend on quality products and knows what she wants. Amanda may differ, however, from “Modern-day Melissa,” who is in her late 20’s or early 30’s, is more financially conscious and may still be determining her personal tastes. Determining your ideal customers and creating buyer personas for them will make custom content creation all the easier for promoting your brand identity.
- Where do I want my company to be 5, 10, 15, etc. years from now?
This isn’t just a question you get asked on a job interview; it can also be a helpful exercise when determining who your brand is over the long-term. Your brand identity should not only be consistent and understandable, but also sustainable. It should surpass the test of time while also changing with the times as needed. Every company, particularly burgeoning new ones, should be keeping this top of mind.
This forward-thinking mindset can also apply to longtime brands. Consider a company that has been in business for decades. While it is a trusted brand and takes pride in its heritage—clearly the business has been doing something right—it may one day have trouble keeping up with modern-day competitors who appeal to a larger demographic and, as such, have more to offer. Every company should regularly commit to reviewing the long-term sustainability of its brand identity.
Building your brand identity is without question one of the hardest things you will do for your company. But, as we know, the hardest things and the most rewarding things are often the same.