Ever wonder why some brands vanish into obscurity while others enjoy viral popularity?
Or why certain brands pop into your head when you see certain colors?
Why some businesses withstand pandemics, a decade of ups and downs and make it… while others die by the wayside?
Building a brand that lasts is a process of commitment. Integrity. Hard work. (Did we mention commitment?)
Brand building is also a process that involves coalescing the mission and message of your business into a cohesive, comprehensive identity that customers recognize, trust, and get excited about.
Every time they see you appear in their inbox or flash across their news feed.
In 2020, it’s the authentic expression of your company’s core values and mission, done in a way that connects with your customers.
When you nail it, you not only create a memorable, enduring brand but one that drives your company’s growth.
(71% of customers say it’s important to them to purchase from brands they recognize.)
Here’s what I’ve learned over the past nine years building the Express Writers brand from the ground up through a content-first approach – no magic, no gimmicks, no shortcuts.
5 Ways to Build a Brand That Lasts and Grows Organically
1. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work!
2. Commit to Consistency
3. Put Your Customers First In Everything You Do
4. Make Integrity a Core Value
5. Keep Every Promise You MakeTrying to discern how to build a brand that lasts? It seems mystifying, yet the answer is quite simple. It’s all about brand development strategy – not luck or happenstance. Learn more in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
The 5 Keys to Building Strong Brands That Enjoy Organic Growth
There is nothing mysterious involved when it comes to marketing or building strong brands. If you’re wondering how to build a brand that lasts, you could sum it up in five quick parts: work hard, be consistent, emphasize customer service, practice integrity, and keep your promises.
It’s that simple. And that hard. Let’s dive in.
1. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work!
If you want the harvest, you have to spend time in the dirt.
It’s a super simple concept, but you’ll be surprised at how few people understand this. Consider this:
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 60 percent of Americans believe that hard work is the key to getting ahead. A full 39 percent think hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to anything.
In other words, over a third of Americans are unlikely to work hard because they’re not convinced it will do any good. They can’t all be resigned to never succeeding at anything. So, might there be successful entrepreneurs in that second group?
Maybe, but the data isn’t optimistic:
Data mined from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 29 percent of business owners worked more than 50 hours per week. Some 86 percent worked on the weekends. Just 60 percent took just one vacation per year (and then three-quarters of them STILL worked).
So, roll up those sleeves and get those hands dirty. Successful freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners know that there’s no way around the hard work. Our willingness to engage in it constitutes a defining feature – we wear our 90-hour workweeks like a badge of honor.
Still, hard work is the key to success but it’s the key we frequently don’t see. A lot of people out there also don’t want you to see it.
They’d rather you buy their book, course, membership, etc., that promises to divulge some secret that makes you rich overnight – ignoring the reality that it takes between two and three years on average before a business becomes profitable.
Next time you’re marveling at some on-point branding or the truly-well targeted marketing of one of your competitors, remember that you’re looking at the harvest, not the dirt.
2. Commit to Consistency.
Hard work and consistency are linked. If you’re showing up every day to water your crops, they’re going to grow.
However, that’s not all consistency involves. A lot of research shows that consistency directly impacts your business’s organic growth whether we’re talking about branding efforts or content publishing.
According to Demand Metric, brands that present a uniform presence across all of their platforms are 3.5 times more recognizable than brands that don’t. A consistent brand increases revenue by up to 23 percent.
According to HubSpot, companies that published at least four blogs every week saw the highest levels of organic traffic.
In short: If you build it, they will come – but you have to keep building even when they’re not coming.
As you start to build your brand, commit to consistency from the ground up to give yourself a solid foundation to build. That includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Aligning your core mission, business goals, and content: You should be articulating the same message across your entire enterprise.
- Carefully curating your voice and vibe: From your brand identity to your user interface, your customer experience should have a uniform feeling.
- Cultivating your topic clusters: HubSpot’s 2020 Content Marketing Strategy Report identified topic clusters as the single most powerful strategy for building brand authority.
- Crafting authoritative, valuable content: Many people believe long-form content is dead thanks to our goldfish-like attention spans, but this isn’t true at all! Long-form content (above 1,000 words) thrives if it’s useful.
- Publishing strategic content on a schedule: Your readers and customers should know when to expect new content from you – and you must deliver.
- Updating and revitalizing your brand presence and content to reflect your growth: Content isn’t meant to be published and forgotten about. Spend time auditing your web presence, customer experience, and content to ensure it remains consistent over time.
Do these things look familiar? They should. They’re the core of a strong content strategy, your single most potent tool for building a brand that grows over time.
Tip: Want to learn more? I dive deep into all of these content strategy cores in my comprehensive course.
3. Put Your Customers First in Everything You Do.
At the end of the day, your customers are the reason for your success. Without them, you aren’t earning!
Build into your brand strategy a commitment to treat them each like they’re the Number One Customer – because they are. Every one of them.
Customer centricity, also called a client-centric or client-focused strategy, is the idea that a company’s entire existence should revolve around delivering the best possible experience to its customers. And by everything, I mean:
- Implementing business infrastructure (phones, software, etc.) that enhances customer service.
- Developing a functional online presence that elevates the customer experience.
- Publishing comprehensive content that solves customer problems or addresses common pain points.
- Creating processes that sustain relationships with customers to deliver value even after the final sale.
Emphasizing the customer experience is a powerful branding strategy because these efforts send a clear message that you’re here to help. You’re here to deliver value, and you value your customers.
It works. According to PwC, 80 percent of Americans want fast, friendly, helpful, and convenient interactions with brands. Some 73 percent will walk away if they don’t get that – a quarter of them after the very first time.
In contrast, 42 percent of people will remain loyal to a brand that delivers the expected experience even if it costs more.
Putting the customer first consistently is hard work but it pays in dividends with loyalty and growth. Hey, seeing a pattern yet?
4. Make Integrity a Core Value
We often hear about brand authenticity – the perceived sincerity of a brand to its identity, mission, and customers – but what about integrity?
Brand integrity refers to how your customers perceive your image, products or services, and reputation. It’s whether you’re known for engaging in certain behaviors, or whether you’re known for sticking by the principles you express.
I’ll be you a pretty penny you can name a few examples off the top of your head (both positive and negative). Brand integrity is that powerful.
Companies with brand integrity send consistent messages about who they are and what they stand for. That’s critical for building trust with your customers.
However, integrity goes beyond simply how your brand conducts itself in public. It also includes what happens behind closed doors when no one is looking (or so you think).
It matters because, at some point down the road, you’re going to have some seriously. Bad. Days.
I’ve certainly had a few. From finishing off content writing at 1 am because the writer didn’t come through to dealing with embezzling managers, I’ve learned the hard way that how you respond in those moments will make or break your brand.
If you’ve cultivated a brand that emphasizes integrity, you’ll already have a leg up. In the moments when it matters most, integrity:
- Gives you a guidepost. You’ll be better prepared to do the right thing for your employees, customers, or business.
- Helps you articulate and maintain your standards. You’ll not only set expectations but be able to identify when you (or your team) aren’t living up to them – and you’ll know what to do about that.
- Attracts potential team members who resonate with your brand message. At some point, you’ll need to build a team if you want to grow further. You can attract the talent you’re looking for if you make your brand’s principles and integrity a proposition. (American Express found that 68 percent of millennials are looking at them already when they decide if they want to apply to a job.)
- Improves your transparency. If you’re doing the right thing, and you know it, it’s much easier to remain transparent and honest about what’s happening. (And Label Insight suggests that 94 percent of customers will show loyalty to you if you show transparency to them.)
- Deepens customer trust. Customers don’t want perfection. They want honesty and the recognition of the human element behind the brand.
Doing the right thing is hard work. It might require you to make difficult decisions. Yet, if you’re known for doing the right thing consistently, then your customers will trust you and stand behind you – you’ll maintain that sterling reputation and your brand will enjoy high value as a result.
5. Keep Every Promise You Make
Your word – like your reputation – is your most valuable asset. Cultivate the habit of keeping every promise you make.
To your customers, that means things like delivering what you say you’ll deliver – meeting that deadline even if you work into the wee hours of the morning because the team member you delegated the work to didn’t keep up their part.
To your employees, that means things like paying them on time – even if your clients haven’t paid you.
Keeping your word is part of how you express integrity, but it goes much further than that. When you make following through on your promises a priority, it:
- Keeps you from making promises you can’t keep. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a brand failing to provide after making a promise. Distinguish yourself by never eliciting that feeling in your customers or employees.
- Shows respect to your customers. Your customers are the reason for your success, so show them respect not only in your superior customer service but also by delivering upon your promises.
- Emphasizes brand consistency. The trick to build a brand that lasts is to walk your talk every day – even when you don’t feel like it.
Keeping promises means you’re dedicated to not only doing the hard work it takes to build a rock-solid brand, but you’re also prepared to do so in a principled way. Even when it’s not easy or convenient.
5 keys to building a brand that grows strong like an oak tree : 1) Work hard, 2) Commit to consistency, 3) Put customers first, 4) Champion integrity, 5) Keep EVERY promise. @JuliaEMcCoy breaks it down : Click To Tweet
How to Build a Brand That Lasts Through Anything
There you have it, from seed to harvest – how to build a brand that lasts through any scenario the world might throw at us, from pandemics to our cycle of recessions. There’s nothing magical or mysterious about it. You just need to be willing to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and show up every. Single. Day.
Forget overnight success. Toss out that “when I feel like it” attitude. The recipe for success is dead simple, but very, very hard.
With consistency, a healthy dose of principles, a desire to create true value for your customers and the gumption to stick with it no matter how long it takes, your brand will thrive.
At the core of your brand strategy is great content. Check out our Content Shop to discover how we help you create comprehensive, valuable content for your customers.