Top Tips to Building a Brand that is #RelationshipGoals with Your Customer
Applying relationship building tools to help early stage startups create and maintain their brand identity
Relationships can be a challenge to maintain because they take constant work. It takes time to build trust, value, and devotion. It takes time to truly get to know the other party to where you can almost anticipate what their needs, wants, and desires are. Even then, when you think you know someone, they may surprise you, or they may change and evolve. The same thinking can be applied to building your brand identity. Building a brand takes constant work, especially when you are trying to align your values, mission, and purpose to potential customers’. This can be a complex and ever changing process; because, just like any relationship, there are usually grown parties involved with their own set of values, mission, experiences, and purpose. Aligning these parties cohesively, can sometimes be difficult, time consuming, takes a bit of patience and adaptability. But, through the active and consistent pursuit to provide genuine value, your brand, like any lasting relationship, will grow with its customers, and stand the test of time.
Tip #1: Trust is essential to attracting the right ones
“Trust is necessary for a relationship to function and thrive. When you’re always honest with someone, it tells them that they can trust you and the things you say. It helps them know they can believe your promises and commitments.” (Kelly Gonsalves & Kristie Overstreet PhD)
It is imperative for your brand to represent your true self. It must be an accurate reflection of your values, mission, and purpose. Not only because you want to gain and maintain your customers’ trust; but because the type of customers you will attract will mirror your brand identity.
Just like any relationship, in order for someone to want to engage with you, they have to trust you. Without trust, the foundation of that relationship is tainted because your words cannot be taken seriously. (Kelly Gonsalves & Kristie Overstreet PhD) If applied to your business, your customers would not want to buy from you if they don’t feel comfortable that your brand serves the purpose that your purporting. Creating an inauthentic storyline can cause you to lose customers. They could feel like they were duped into an ideology that your brand could not live up; or, they do not relate to your product because it doesn’t truly match their own set of values, mission, and purpose.
Obviously no one likes to be lied to, but it is more than that. Just like any relationship, your brand will draw in clients that will mirror your brand identity. It goes back to the old adage, “You are what you attract.” Creating a brand that is honestly and authentically seeking to create outcomes to better the lives of your customers, will attract those customers that want to improve their lives with your outcomes.
Tip #2: Create value from your values
“Feelings may forge committed relationships, but values sustain them. The power of love comes not from its feelings but its values.” (Steven Stosny, Ph.D. Jan 2013)
Your brand is a personification of your values. These are the characteristics of your business that describe: what type of business you want to have, what problems you intend to solve, and what type of customers you want to attract. Articulating your values in your branding is crucial for laying the foundation for your brand and ensuring you cultivate a meaningful connection with your customer, who will likely share your same values. Therefore, clearly and concisely write down / journal what those values might be to you and why you chose them, in your business. Then, share your values, as you understand them, wherever your customers can find you. You can do this by finding new and inventive ways to express those values, over time; but ultimately, your brand identity should not veer too far away from how you first communicated your values to yourself. Keep repeating your values through all the ways you communicate your brand identity. That is the way your customer will know whether they mesh with your values, or they don’t. Customers that share your same values will stick with you to see how those values play out in practise.
Spend the rest of your time creating value for your customers by putting into practise those values you had outlined. Like a relationship, once you have established that you share the same values with someone, show them that you truly believe in what you say you believe in. You have set the standards for that relationship, now practise what you preach.
Tip #3: Be Consistent, B-E Consistent
“People who are more consistent with their interactions with one another, such as having predictable behaviours and good communication, have longer and more successful relationships.” (Ashley Laderer December 2018)
Attracting your customers is one thing, keeping them engaged is another. You may have a brand with pretty aesthetics, great wording, and an empowering, honest story. But, your customers want to know what they can expect from you, and whether they can continue to do so. They want to know that you will be there to develop outcomes around their pain, not once, or a few times, but all the time. They also want to know that you are committed to ensuring those outcomes are always available to them, and address them specifically.
First, ensure you always maintain a consistent brand message. That message cannot address their pain today and then tomorrow address an issue completely unrelated. Message consistency is always key to building trust with your customers. They want to see that what you say your brand does, relates to and effects them positively. Therefore, before creating your brand message, you may want to think about who your ideal customer is and what types of problems you will be addressing for them. That way, your brand reflects a genuine interest to connect with your ideal customer profile and targets their needs. Your brand message lays the foundation for a solid connection and shows a commitment to, and with, your customer base.
Secondly, your brand’s presence must be maintained consistently. Wherever your customers are, you should be. It doesn’t matter if your customers are on socials, read print, scroll online, reading other means of collateral, like blog sites. Maintain a regular posting / marketing schedule. Create a content strategy, and get your brand out there. Your customers want to know that if and when they need you, you are and will be there.
Also, when you are consistent with your brand, your customers will be consistent and loyal to you. Similar to any good relationship, it’s about having a healthy balance of give and take. Your brand should be present, available, and reliable; which in turn, will create a customer base that responds in kind.
Tip #4: When you evolve together you stay together
“Your relationship likely will change from how it was in the beginning. If you want your relationship to last, you need to keep nurturing it in order for that to happen.” (Kristine Fellizar November 2018)
It is important that you continue to evolve your brand story and identity as your customer base evolves. Just like in a relationship, your brand story will grow, as you do, and your customers, their needs, wants, and desires may grow, shift, and/or change too. You want to ensure that your brand grows together with your customer, instead of grows a part. This means, do something new, shake things up, work to maintain the spark. Think of new ways to entice your customer to want to engage with you. Try a change in aesthetics or, share a more updated story that reflects the brands’ challenges and wins over the years. That way your brand stays relatable and real to customers, as they may have undergone their own set of challenges and wins. Also, there has never been anything wrong with a bit of experimentation. Test new ideas with your customer base and see if they work. Your customers, just like a partner, would want to know that you can still can make them happy and are working to do so. Evolve your brand identity naturally. Demonstrate a true reflection of what and where your brand is now, from what and where it was when you first started your business.