Creating and maintaining a positive brand image has always been vital. But it’s even more difficult to do than in years past.
Thanks to social, marketing is a two-way street where companies must constantly be engaged in an ongoing conversation with their customers. And with so many companies committed to doing social and environmental good as part of their core mission, it’s easy for consumers to drop brands who don’t align with their values.
But if your business has somehow developed a negative brand image, don’t fear – it is possible to turn that bad press upside down.
Repairing that negative image through better brand storytelling will take time and effort, but following the advice below will help move your company back toward brand love.
Step One: Assess Your Current Image
The first thing you need to do is be honest about public perception. If there’s a problem with your brand image, you need to recognize that. You can’t fix something if you’re unwilling to admit that it’s broken.
Note: This may seem obvious, but think about how many brands have wasted precious time denying their guilt? If Wells Fargo and Volkswagen had been quicker to admit wrongdoing and own it, how much faster could they have gained the public’s trust back?
Don’t have a strong grasp on your brand perception? Just ask. Social media allows you easy access to customers. Use that asset and ask the necessary questions, such as:
- What do customers think about your company?
- Do they see your brand favorably or unfavorably?
- What did the company do to earn this reputation?
- Where is your business failing its customers?
- How can the company improve its image?
Take time to sort through the responses and make a list of recurring issues. Then develop strategies to improve whatever problems you may encounter.
Be prepared, though – the public will be brutally honest with you (thanks, social media). But this assessment is necessary in order to make changes that will positively affect your brand.
Step Two: Tell A Better Story
Your brand is not just the products and services that you offer to the public. You can’t simply use facts and figures about your features and benefits to appeal to customers. When you’re building (or rebuilding) your brand, you need to communicate using the power of story and start from a place of self-awareness.
Brand storytelling is the narrative you tell about your company and your products, either explicitly or implicitly. It can be about how the company came to be, what motivates your team, the values your company holds, etc. You can base your story on whatever you choose, but what’s most important is that it’s relatable.
Stories are powerful because they connect to consumers on a deeper level than by merely spouting facts. Stories are simple, inspiring, and memorable. Defining your brand using stories will help customers create an emotional connection to your company.
For example, Toms Shoes is known as a business that gives back. When he was traveling in Argentina, the founder of Toms was inspired to help children living in poverty obtain decent shoes.
Toms Shoes has soared in popularity since its founding because consumers know that their purchase is contributing to a good cause. In fact, TOMS is so effective at brand storytelling because consumers can become part of the TOMS story by purchasing the shoes.
As you can see, brand storytelling sells.
Step Three: Make Better Content
Through content marketing, your company can offer interesting tools and information to the public, with blog posts, quizzes, infographics, videos, photos, etc.
When you’re creating content for public consumption, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
Align the content with your brand image.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. When you create content for consumers, you need to be sure that it is consistent with your brand image.
For example, if you’re presenting your product as sophisticated and high-end, then be sure that that content you share communicates that. Don’t offer silly quizzes or post blogs about second-hand products – that type of content contradicts your brand identity.
Blog posts on your website are an absolute must, but don’t get stuck thinking that those alone will suffice. Be creative and try something new.
For instance, you can use short Instagram videos to communicate your brand story.
Compared to a simple blog post, an video is much more memorable (and more likely to be shared!). Consumers are also more likely to share your content if you use a creative format.
Know your customers, and focus on them.
It’s important to recognize that your product may not appeal to all consumers. Instead of trying to market to the public at large, make sure that you know who your ideal customer is and focus your message on that demographic.
You also need to remember that whatever content you offer should be valuable to consumers. You’re not just offering this as an act of shameless self-promotion, but actively making them a part of your story.
If people feel like your company is constantly pushing itself, saying “Look at me! Buy my product! Me, me, me!” then they’re going to be turned off.
The focus should first and foremost be on offering something of value or interest to the customer.
Your content should enrich their lives, give them something to talk about, make them smile. Accomplish this, and you’ll build a lasting connection with consumers.
Bit by Bit
It takes time to develop a positive brand image. You may want immediate results but, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
That’s also true of public perception. If you take the time to assess your image, develop a solid brand storytelling strategy, and tell that story using content marketing, you will see your company’s image improve considerably over time.