Communicating your brand effectively relies on the same principles as any good form of communication. Both you and your audience benefit. You want to see a positive response from them, they want to benefit from what you’re offering. It’s a relationship.
So how are you going to make this happen?
Here are five steps for communicating your brand effectively:
Let’s dive in…
Before you create any content, you need to know three things about your business or organisation:
When I say ‘know’ I mean really know. Not just a vague awareness, or a ‘sure-it’s-written-down somewhere’ kind of knowing. If the following three things are not explicitly ingrained pieces of knowledge for your company or organisation, then you need to do some work to get there ASAP.
You need to know who you are, what you want to achieve, and who you are trying to reach:
Identity: Who you are
Who are you? By really knowing your core values and vision your messages have a foundation and framework under which to live and breathe. Why should people care about your brand? And how are you different to your competitors – what is unique about your offering?
If you know who you are, you should have a strong and clear value proposition. It can’t be vague. If you can’t explain it and convince people in a sentence or two then you need to ask yourself why and then work it out, pronto.
Goals: What you want to achieve
What are your business goals? What are you trying to achieve by creating content? Do you want to improve sales, gain support, instigate action, strengthen your brand etc? Be clear and precise. Identify your message, and avoid the dangesr of overcomplicating it.
Audience: Who you are trying to reach
Is anybody out there?! Yes, but you’ve got to do some work to reach them. Whether it’s customers or users – whichever flavour of ‘audience’ you’re focusing on, focus on them. ‘Everyone, I guess?’ is not a helpful goal.
What are the kinds of people you’re trying to reach to help you reach your business goals? What do you already know about them (to help make connection points between them and your brand)? What are the problems they need solving and that you can solve? What do you know about their previous interest/interactions with your content, i.e. are they warm or cold towards your brand?
Perhaps you have already created personas for them. If not, consider doing so.
When I was working for BBC local radio, we had a poster on the studio wall of Dave and Sue,our typical listeners. This was really helpful for focusing our content decisions.
next, you need to create content that connects with your audience:
Get your hands dirty. Find alignment between your brand and your audience. With all the content you produce, always stay true to your brand values. Come back to these again and again. Use them as your foundation, your reference point.
Think about your format
Craft your messages into content that your audience will respond well to. Use stories. Stories make your brand relatable, convey emotion and inspire action.
Consider my Restaurant analogy for more on how to create the best and most relevant content for your audience. If you have a clear and precise goal and a clear idea of your target audience’s needs, then you’ve made a good start. Do you need a Facebook video, a blog post, an Instagram gallery? What? Choose your format/s based on what will resonate best with your audience.
Choose the right channels
Choose the channels that are most appropriate for your audience to connect with your message on. What’s the vehicle that’s going to take your message to your audience? What protocols and/or restrictions does the channel have?
Have you been slogging away at Twitter for months and not getting any traction with younger audiences? Try TikTok.
Are you posting videos on YouTube selling your professional services, but feeling fatigued at the small number of leads? Try LinkedIn.
then you need to build a relationship with your audience:
Create content people relate to. Relate to the people who have related to your content. And above all, show love to people in all you do.
Let me explain:
Create content people relate to
By this point you should already know a thing or two about your audience. If not, scroll up the page. Consider what would resonate with them, build loyalty, drive action. What content has worked well in the past? Learn from your audience. Learn how to serve them best.
Relate to the people who have related to your content
Sit with your audience. Be ready to answer any questions or comments, and respond to any positive or negative impact your content is having.
And above all, show love to people
It’s been proven that people relate to brands like people they love. Love your audience and help that love to grow. Here are some principles:
Be real: Try to avoid the trap of becoming a content machine gun. Remember: you are serving people. Be transparent, authentic, fun when appropriate.
Be sensitive: That means pursuing politeness and avoiding coming across as ‘spammy’ by posting too much or without thinking about how your audience could emotionally connect with it.
Be consistent: Try and have a consistent way of ‘speaking’ to your audience/s. Your tone of voice is important in building trust and loyalty. Mandeep Singh, a Digital Marketing Strategist with Strivers Edge says ‘Make sure your brand personality remains consistent throughout different channels and touchpoints. This will help consumers identify with your brand and connect in a better way.’
Now you need to see how you’ve done and learn from it:
Look at the data. Really look at it. Avoid paddling in shallow waters with backslapping vanity metrics. Dive deep into what you can learn from the whole user journey. Use tools such as Google Analytics or the native reporting features of social platforms.
Consider the overall picture of how your content has performed and whether you’ve got a good return on investment (ROI).
If you’re asking yourself: was that piece of under-performing content worth the effort? It may be that you didn’t squeeze all you could have done out of the story that lies at the heart of the content.
Perhaps you didn’t create and distribute variations and snippets for each appropriate channel, or maybe the story wasn’t strong enough in the first place. If not, then don’t despair, find and tell a better story.
Finally, you need to tell your story differently:
When you’re telling great stories to people you love, even the same ones repeated will need a different angle or style of delivery to keep them fresh and impactful. You can’t stay static, no one likes the boring ‘same old’.
‘Psychologists have found that the way brands communicate new ideas is a key motivation for consumers,’ writes Carlota Feliu on the Datumize blog.
The challenge is to make sure any innovative approach to brand communication both aligns with and strengthens your brand. Test your new ideas. Are they taking you forwards, not sideways or backwards?
Hold onto the brilliance of your unique identity, your goals and the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing, and keep loving the people who you want to love you back.