Brand identity. An age-old concept that asks the questions ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you stand for?’ Every company has had to define and explain their brand identity. The process involves a basic premise, goal, and/or bottom line and builds upon it within every aspect of a company’s actions and communication. It used to be much simpler, back in the ‘time before social’ (or TBS for short). Traditional media focused on a set of standard communications to project an image, while today’s communication is more social and interactive. Being more social and interactive means that companies are more exposed, and their customers know them and their brand on a much more interactive, and intimate, platform. Today’s social communications leave companies much more transparent, making a strong brand identity that much more important. How do you build and maintain a strong brand identity in today’s social world? Knowing your brand, sticking to your brand and it’s core values, providing customers with live person answers, listening to customers and responding to customers. The first two concepts are especially important, because a brand is nothing without a firm foundation to stand upon. Rance Crain of Ad Age references Ad Age’s Bob Garfield and his January 2nd article where he states “The core value of a brand must be real and sustainable, and everyone in the company must believe it”
. This is an accurate and fitting explanation of what knowing your brand and sticking to your brand’s core values is all about. He goes on to say that a company or brand must be in control of what it stands for, not its customers. It’s also important to align your brand with endeavors that further its message, not detract from or work against it. As Crain puts it: ‘What you say on the outside has to match up with what you do on the inside.” Basically it’s up to you to define and embody what your brand is all about. Only then can you survive in any scenario, particularly a social one.
The other features of building and maintaining a strong brand identity in today’s social world are all about catering to customers. A recent eMarketer article focuses on how social campaigns affect brand metrics and purchase intent long-term. BzzAgent, social media marketing arm of dunnhumby, surveyed brand advocates about social campaigns for consumer packaged goods
. Before exposure to a campaign, brand advocates were 39% likely to recommend a brand, and shortly after exposure were 61% likely. Even a year later, they were still 55% likely to recommend that same brand. When brand advocates were asked about their own purchase intent, before the campaign 38% were likely to purchase and recommend the brand. During the three months following the campaign 69% were likely to purchase, and a year later 61% were still likely to purchase. This proves there is a direct link between social campaigns and purchase intent. The fact that there is makes having a strong brand identity, and properly servicing customers (who become your brand advocates) that much more important. Another eMarketer article references a survey conducted by Conversocial, a social media customer service software provider, that lays out what attributes are most important to customers
. The top two? Talking to a real, live person and having questions and complaints promptly addressed on Facebook and Twitter. Conversation does matter, and customers expect the same customer service in the social world as they do in the real world. Part of building a strong brand involves communicating that strong brand to your customers. Strong customer service is part of a strong brand identity, because it helps communicate a brand’s identity and reinforces it. In doing so it reinforces customer’s opinions about the brand and builds the brand and social media campaign positively. As a result of this positive growth there is long-term purchase intent. Long-term purchase intent equals a strong bottom line. A strong bottom line is a reflection of a strong brand identity. As you can see it’s a big circle and cycle that, when followed, results in the successful transition and maintenance of brand identity in today’s social world. So who are you and what do you stand for? The sooner you define and build that, the more successful you will be.