Is 2015 the year to take action in managing your brand position differently than you ever have? The argument can be made that some research started much earlier indicates some change may be necessary, some stronger in the last couple of years, and some that still need some additional review. The argument may also be made that moving away from traditional branding is still not a safe strategy.
But the truth is that the time may be now or never. Let’s look at what has happened to your company’s ability to control your brand’s position in the competitive marketplace, and whether another look at how/when you choose to do it is worthy of re-examination.
What is Constant: Branding is all about creating the position you want to own in what I trademarked in my first book as “The Marketplace of the Mind.” That is the rock solid component that will never change for one reason: The mind is where we profile the offers, the competitors and everything we know and think about a provider before we make a purchasing decision. Historically companies could repeat messages of importance (the brand positioning statement in most cases) that would connect what they believed would resonate with the prospect/client and the products and services the company had to offer. In most cases, enough repetition would cement that position in the prospect/clients mind.
Of course there were many other factors, but online behavior wasn’t one of them.
What Has Changed: One factor in business branding today has changed. In fact it has done a one hundred and eighty degree change. I’m talking about a behavior that the majority of us have embraced: writing reviews and reading feedback online before we make a purchasing decision.
Today in most surveys, an excess of 80% of potential customers/patients/residents believe these online reviews above the recommendations they receive from family and friends! Submitted by people they don’t personally know!!!!
These reviews cover everything from service, to quality, to employee moral, to speed of response, to fairness of fees, to cleanliness, to promises made vs. kept, to scope of services or menu items, to level of staff experience, to a company’s ability to recover from an error, to speed of response. Increasingly these reviews are not only written, but are showing up as videos on YouTube, where more than 50% of all online search now begin according to Goggle.
Bottom-line: Your brand control has been transferred to your customers and prospects. It wasn’t something you intentionally did, but consumer ability to share their impressions and profile you online has become so easy and believability so willingly accepted, that your customers now control the fate of your brand. Know what is most important. Deliver it to your customers. Solicit their positive feedback. Use positive feedback to market your company. Respond rapidly to negative feedback and solve the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. If you do, your ability to control your company’s brand position will look more like it did in the past.
Final Thought: Companies with a five-star reputation have a built-in advantage, regardless of the size of their competitor’s companies.