You’ve got your logo, you’ve got your branded imagery and fancy photographs and you know your colours and your fonts and you LOVE them. But what next?
Your brand is still more than all of this. Hopefully to get to this point, you’ll have had conversations with your designer about your values and your ideal client and about how your brand identity ties into your business. You’ll have realised that your brand is not just the pretty stuff, but the whole experience of working with you is also important.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bricks and mortar store or a service delivered from your kitchen table, in the local woods or down the phone, your business delivers an experience as well as a tangible product or a beneficial service.
“My brand is blue so it reflects calm and tranquility. I hope that everyone interacting with me finds it’s a calm experience and my products produce those long last calm feels” Sara Philips, Rituals Home
So how can you make the most of your brand?
It might be that your mission is to inspire a love of the outdoors, so perhaps you might pop a leaf into the envelope with your gift voucher (printed on recycled paper of course), one of your values might be to help others smile, so you might add some jokes into your social media content or into your email signature, or pull some silly faces, or maybe you want people to feel special so you go out of your way to know what their favourite drinks and biscuits are and ensure that you’ve got them on the table when they walk into the room, with a vase of their favourite flowers.
Creating a brand experience that centres around YOUR BRAND is a smart way to engage with people even more before, during and after working with or buying from you. It helps people to connect with you – and connection is so important isn’t it?
“We walk the walk because we employ people with disabilities. John has a brain injury, and was a client before he became a member of staff.” Kelly Oliver Dougall, Cygnet North East
“I have a blog on my website, where you can leave any feedback or a review. We also design for disabled people, as well as for any size and gender.” Liz Brewer Lizannoflondon.co.uk
Working on this means sitting and working out what the experience is.
So sit and look at the process. The before, during and after of working with you. List your touch points. This is the people who may work with you, do work with you and have worked with you – and the people who might recommend you. Past, present and future. Think about online and offline touch points. Try not to miss anything out – and leave gaps between each one incase you miss one, or incase you want to add in new touch points and take notes at the next stage.
Think about the seasons, the different things that you might do at different times of the year, such as sending Christmas Cards or having offers for Black Friday. Your touch points do vary depending on what you’re doing, the offers you have, wether you’re going through a launch or note, so it may be worth looking at this list quarterly to help you plan ahead.
“Brand personality and how you present yourself to customers is an area that fascinates me (as I studied work psychology and business). I think that every interaction someone has with you is where people learn about you and your brand. You have to be your brand ALL the time, and that doesn’t mean you have to fake it all the time. If you develop a brand that suits your core personal values then you can successfully ‘be your brand’ with no acting degree required! People buy from people they like, and the vibe you give out sends a powerful message which will attract some and maybe put off others. Not everyone will like you, and for some people your industry or products or services just won’t appeal, and that’s A-OK. As long as you’re being true to you, you can’t really ask for for than that of yourself. The trouble is, many people really dislike presenting themselves as they authentically (or maybe not presenting or impression managing at all) but it’s the way I do business. I am the same with everybody. I don’t mould myself like a chameleon to gain acceptance. I think I’m an ok human and have the confidence to be myself. But I know not everyone will connect. They are not wrong. I am not wrong. It’s just the way it is. That’s my philosophy 😁😇💛☺ xx” Imani Summer, Summer SHINES
Once you have these touch points in front of you, then you’re ready to look at each one in detail.
Have a think about how you want people to perceive you at their first contact with you. Think about your values, your personality, your purpose and how you want people to feel. Think about each moment and consider what you can do at each point to not only show these but also to use that moment in the best possible way for you. You might want to offer a discount, or ask people to join your group to find out more. Work out how you can include your personality and how you can enthuse and intrigue your audience so that they want to explore further. Could you create a quiz or a game or a trail or a set of videos taking them from a to be, to help them find out more about you and about their need for what you offer. Could you demonstrate your values or tell your story to get to know them? Could you use video or live stream, invite them to a call or an event or a webinar? How can you use these moments to get to know people and help them to know more about you, whilst helping people take the next step.
“I try to always add humour to my posts on my group and page as body positivity and self esteem can be a serious subject!… so I always try to put a positive slant on everything 😊 It can still be helpful even when it’s not serious! 😊” Jane Pangborn, The You of Today
When you’ve thought about the initial touch points, consider what it’s like actually working with or buying from you.
With packaging – especially when you are posting out – this is your opportunity to pack items with care and include cards to help people use and understand your products more. You can ask people to take specific actions. You can write personal notes. You can say thank you or ask them to recommend a friend. I order products online every month and the handwritten thank you notes do not get chucked out. I keep them and actually these remind and encourage me to order from these companies again. Emails are also great to follow up on all of this.
“I teach yoga and I branded my group ‘The Yoga Tribe’ as I wanted it to feel like we were all there to support each other. I have set classes up so that people feel like they are amongst friends x” Catherine Percival, The Yoga Tribe
If your business is more service based, or if people are coming to you personally to buy then you have a more personal opportunity to connect with others. You might have a zoom call rather than a phone call so people can get to know you. You might use their real life presence to offer tea. When I go to the hairdressers I’m always offered a drink and a biscuit. There are always fresh flowers and pretty music. Rob is always just the right amount of chatty. The whole experience is lovely and of course I look forward to going back again. There will always be things that you can do.
“I answer emails ASAP and follow up with them a week after they receive their order.” Leanne Bilon, Just organics ltd
How can you delight your audience whilst keeping in mind your values? How can you add extra? How can you improve on what you already do?
Then consider your final touch points What happens when the buying process is over?
Do you ask for testimonials? Do you get in touch a few months later to check in on how they’re doing? Do you offer a recommend a friend card or a discount for further shopping? How can you win them back? Do you have another offering that would work for them? Perhaps you could set up an email to go out and remind people that you still exist and have x, y, z that they might be interested in? Perhaps you could give people a discount code on their birthday? Think about who your ideal client is, what your values are and what you could do that would allow you to carry your brand experience into the next few months?
I would LOVE to know what you do OR how you’re going to improve your brand experience – pop your thoughts in the comments!