Building a strong brand is the cornerstone of any business. It’s how new customers find and choose to connect with you, and why loyal customers decide to stick around. But every few years (or even more frequently if you can) you should be considering how to improve your brand.
Not only does the market change, but trends, social and political landscapes, and consumer needs will all influence how your brand evolves over the years. So once your original brand strategy is complete, that’s not the end: even the strongest brand identities need to be refreshed over time.
Why do I need to improve my brand?
It’s nothing personal—all brands across all industries need a little refresh now and then. Because your brand is the face of what you do, and how customers connect with you, you always want to ensure that the way you’re presenting yourself is up-to-date, relevant, and in line with your customer’s needs and aspirations.
Think of it like your wardrobe: you probably don’t still have the same style that you did 10 years ago. You’ve likely modernized, found new ways to dress that suit who you are now, and possibly wear a few pieces that fit current trends. Well, your brand needs to be the best dressed on the market. And it won’t do to have it going out looking like it did a decade ago.
So, if you’re ready for an update, these are the key factors to consider to strengthen your brand:
Familiarize yourself with brand touchpoints
The touchpoints of your brand are the places where customers will come into contact with you. These include:
- Your product or service itself
- Your website
- Your employees and customer service including phone or voicemail
- Your marketing, i.e. business cards, content, and logo
- Your social media channels
- Your stores or other retail experiences
- Word of mouth
- Trade shows and events
These are just some of the areas that will help customers decide whether or not they relate to your brand. When revisiting your strategy to improve your brand, your first port of call should be checking in on these touchpoints. Evaluate whether you’re still happy with how they’re working, and make sure they’re all perfectly aligned and cohesive so anyone would understand who your brand is from interacting with just one of the touchpoints. Remember: each one presents an opportunity to build loyalty with your customers.
Check your values
Values are one of the main factors that help consumers decide whether or not a brand is the right fit for them. Whether those values are sustainability, quality, expertise, or something else entirely, you know it’s what makes your brand stand out to your target audience.
Make sure all the messaging and communications on your website, socials, and other marketing materials are totally in line with your brand’s values. Take another look at your brand guidelines and make sure they’re still aligned with the image you want to present to the world. And consider new ways for your values to filter through everything you do. Your customer should understand how your values apply to your products, and therefore fulfill their needs.
Define your niche
When you started your business, you probably spend a lot of time looking at competitors and carving out your own niche that filled the gaps they weren’t hitting. But over time, all brands adapt and change to consumer needs, which is why you’ll need to stay on top of whether or not your niche really is a niche still.
Keeping your market narrow, appealing to a specific demographic, and finding ways to fit their needs is the best way to keep your brand refined. You don’t need to completely change to fit a need that didn’t exist when you launched, if you don’t have the capacity. Just look at what your customer needs now and ask yourself: are you still serving them, or could you be doing better?
Align your brand
We’ve already touched on the importance of your values matching your marketing. But if you really want to know how to improve your brand then no element should be left out of this cohesion. Your values, your product, your customer service, your operations, your vision, and every other attribute of your brand should all be in line if you want to ensure success.
For help getting this right, seek outside perspectives. It can be difficult to truly understand how your brand appears to outside viewpoints without asking, so speak to stakeholders, employees, and customers and get their opinions. You could run surveys, offer discounts in return for feedback, or run stakeholder events to help create a friendly environment where they can share their thoughts. If all of them have a different idea of what your brand is about, then your alignment needs some work.
Evaluate your company culture
Company culture has been a talking point for companies across all industries for a few years now, and it’s recognized as one of the most effective ways to promote your brand’s ethos and retain employees. A strong company culture means that the people who work for you will feel genuinely passionate about what you do, and that enthusiasm will seep into your brand.
An example of a brand with a happy employee base is LinkedIn, which ranks second only to video calling software Zoom as the company with the happiest employees in the USA. LinkedIn employees can often be seen using the social platform authentically and enthusiastically, sharing their insights about the company they work for and spreading the brand’s message because they feel truly engaged with where they work and what they do.
Customers also see brands with strong company cultures in a positive light, so make sure you’re representing all the good times at HQ to your followers, too. Just make sure they truly match up to what you say you’re offering—as disappointing company culture experiences can be detrimental to your brand’s reputation.
Reconnect with your customer
Keeping on top of your customer’s wants and needs is important to strengthening your brand. But understanding where and how to reach them is key. There are probably social platforms and networks that didn’t even exist when you launched your brand and created your marketing plan, so as you seek to improve your brand, you should also be looking to improve your awareness of your customer’s habits.
Insights into different channels can help you understand how your own followers are using different platforms, and plan how to gain more reach by using different methods that appeal to the algorithms of the channels your customers most relate with. There are plenty of analytics platforms, including Google Analytics for websites, MailChimp reports for newsletters, Sprout Social and Hootsuite for social media insights, and bespoke metric measuring APIs built into many business software. These make it easy to see how all of your communications and services are performing.
And if you’re feeling daunted by the prospect, don’t be afraid to fall back on a simple survey asking your customers which platforms they like best and where they’d most like to see your presence.
Step up your service
When it comes to securing a good relationship with customers, your customer service is one of the most important factors. Remember that negative experiences are more likely to inspire reviews than positive ones—even if they’re the norm. So if your customer service isn’t on point, your customers will remember and will be likely to share their bad experience with their friends and family.
Human responses rather than exclusively using chatbots and other tools, thorough social media responses, positive phone interactions, and exceeding expectations when it comes to operational matters like deliveries and fixing issues will all secure a good relationship with customers. But one bad experience can have big effects on your reputation, especially if the customer takes to social media to complain.
And since 40% of people say they won’t return to a business they have a bad experience with, it’s worth your while to funnel resources into creating the best possible customer service experience.
Up your aesthetic
One of the most popular ways to let people know that you’ve ‘improved’ your brand is by updating your aesthetic. From logos to brand colors to slogans, brands are always updating how they look. And though that goes against the first marketing lesson of making your brand instantly recognizable, once your original brand is well established enough your customers will have no trouble adapting to your new look.
Updating your brand’s look is a good chance to tighten up how your image translates across all marketing channels, and can also present an opportunity to introduce your employees to your customers: another win when it comes to making your brand feel more personal and friendly.
Embrace social media
Okay so you’re almost definitely already on social media, but are you harnessing everything it can do for you? If you set your social media strategy last year, there’s probably at least two new features on every channel that you use by now. Do you know how to use them to your advantage?
With social media users taking to new features almost as soon as they’re released, there’s no excuses for brands to be seen lagging behind. A great example of this is Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, pushing its users to experiment with Reels and short-form videos. This is because video content is now performing better with users across all social platforms thanks to the influence of TikTok. But with that said, don’t force anything that doesn’t feel authentic to you and your brand: Gen Z TikTok isn’t a place for everyone, after all!
Run events and experiences
An easy way to connect with your customers and put a personal face to your brand is by running events and experiences for customers and clients. This can help with how to improve your brand by exhibiting exactly what you do, in person rather than online. You might choose to align this with a product launch, a specific occasion, or to mark your rebrand. See it as an opportunity to spell out exactly what your goals and values are, and don’t forget to capture it all on social media.
No business can succeed alone. Not only is your own perspective of your brand blurred, but everyone—no matter how successful—can do better with the help of others. Connect with and hire with brand experts and business advisors, and keep up communication with your customers (both via social and email communications, and in-person if you can) to get a stronger idea of where your brand is doing well, and where it could do better.
As well as external feedback, working with people outside your company is a great way to develop a network. Attend seminars, speak with consultants, and attend leadership conferences to keep your knowledge of branding fresh and up to date. You almost definitely be inspired by the success of others, and you even might find inspiration from the areas where they lack.
When you launched your brand, you might have been so caught up in delivering a successful product that you didn’t think much about the human element of what you do. Or perhaps you launched in a time when that wasn’t something brands were thinking about anyway.
Whatever your situation, now is the time to step back and consider how your brand can seem more personable to customers. You might have a spokesperson or influencer as the face of your brand, or you might choose to communicate in a colloquial and friendly tone so those interacting with your brand know there’s a real person on the other side.
Whatever works for you, just remember that 82% of consumers want human interactions with brands, and yet 59% don’t feel they’re getting it. You don’t want to be a brand contributing to that 59%!
Strengthening your brand
So, now you’re ready to focus on how to improve your brand. From touchpoints to values to customer service, each step should focus on how your audience views you and what you do. If you work through the brand with the customer in mind and a strong idea of what your authentic brand looks like, you’ll be well on your way to building a stronger brand—and you’ll reap the rewards in sales and customer loyalty.