A Positive Brand Identity Turns Consumers Into 'Frands'

Targeting the correct group of consumers is critical to successful frand development. Attempting to launch a marketing campaign to target everyone is not an effective strategy. Focus on the specific traits that determine the ideal consumer for your business.
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Franding is a new and exciting concept, and it will help you develop your brand into a consumer loyalty magnet. Simply defined, a frand is a loyal fan of your brand. While the definition is elementary, the results can be dramatic. Everyone has read stories where consumers line up for hours, even overnight, to purchase a sale-priced popular brand item. Because of the product's brand, a loyal following of "frands" appear whenever there are new product releases or sales. The brand defines the product, and frand defines the devoted fan of the product.

Your Brand Identity

Brand identity is how consumers perceive the name of your company, logo and product. Defining your brand properly is critical to achieving a following for your product. Is your brand as strong as it needs to be? It is important to regularly evaluate your brand and look for weaknesses. Competition grows daily, and any points of contention between the consumer and the business must be resolved quickly. Customers have expectations of your brand. It is essential for your business to identify and meet the consumer expectations.

There is a five-step process for developing a brand that clearly presents your company's vision and goals.

1. Write a single sentence "vision statement" expressing your company's goals for the future. There is no need to go into detail about how the goals will be achieved. Amazon's vision statement clearly states their vision, "To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."

2. Clearly define the purpose of the company in your "mission statement." Written in laymen's language, the statement must be crafted to include the specific market needs your company addresses, your company's method of addressing the needs, and the principles by which your company operates, and should be a paragraph in length.

3. Your business needs a personality. Do you think of some brands as out-dated? What do you want consumers to think about your brand? Is it fun, down-to-earth, comforting, serious, or in charge? Determine the personality that best represents your business and incorporate it into your brand.

4. Compose a brand positioning statement. This statement consists of one or two sentences explaining the unique benefits of your product or service and how they are valuable to consumers. Zipcar's statement, "To urban-dwelling, educated techno-savvy consumers, when you use Zipcar car-sharing service instead of owning a car, you save money while reducing your carbon footprint," expresses an entire business philosophy in a single sentence.

5. Create a tagline. Brainstorming to develop the perfect tagline, sometimes referred to as a slogan, is well worth whatever time it takes. It offers the consumer a clear focus on who you are and what you do. Apple's iPod tagline, "1000 songs in your pocket" is a prime example of a highly successful tagline. Your tagline is a succinct statement of your company and your product. A tagline should not be gimmicky or silly, because it will not be taken seriously. Another successful tagline, for Beats headphones by Dre is, "hear what you want." A perfect tagline exists for your business. Create it.

Know Your Target Audience

Targeting the correct group of consumers is critical to successful frand development. Attempting to launch a marketing campaign to target everyone is not an effective strategy. Focus on the specific traits that determine the ideal consumer for your business. For example...

1. Does your product appeal more to one gender?

2. Is there an age factor involved in the product's appeal?

3. Is your product geared toward a certain climate or region?

4. Does your product require any training?

The above questions and others will assist you in determining the precise target audience for your business and product. A general approach to marketing will not net the number of loyal frands, as a determined and precise campaign will. Bottled water appeals to a large number of people, but a pink iPod case must be marketed to a specific group of consumers. If the iPod case is available in several colors, the consumer base broadens. Slight differences in buyer habits and requirements can make a significant impact on how a product campaign is pitched to the consumer. The frand factor builds loyalty based on customer appreciation of both product and service.

Your brand must be tied to your business model. We know brand identity is based on consumer perception, and when that perception is absorbed into your business model it helps you sell a product that solves a consumer problem. This process gains the confidence of the consumer, and they develop a loyalty to your brand. There are millions of consumers who buy only one brand of shoes, computers, mobile phone, jeans, cars, and many other products. They are frands who are loyal and always replace the old item with a new one from the same company. They have a brand perception that can't be shaken.

Provide Superior Customer Service

Many business people do not associate customer service as a part of the branding process, but it is a very crucial component of the brand development. Consumer's needs must be met in order to build and maintain customer loyalty. Generic consumers do not exist, and customer service departments must provide flexibility when responding to the various needs customers express. It's important to offer excellent customer service online, by phone, and in person. Developing a solid frand base requires an excellent customer service philosophy. Companies exceeding the consumer expectations deliver efficiency, quality products, and excellent customer service. This philosophy builds customer loyalty. The frand concept encourages building a strong customer allegiance resulting in loyal fans.

It is necessary to align all aspects of the consumer's experience, including high-quality product, positive promotion, exceptional customer service, and practices that place the customer first. All of these activities make up the process of franding. When companies recognize the value of building frand loyalty, they experience a healthy and sustainable relationship with the consumer. Online service must be consumer friendly and easily accessible with quick results. Telephone customer service must be friendly, knowledgeable, and offer quick results. Person-to-person customer service requires a pleasant and informative attitude, as well as a desire to help the customer. Creating a positive experience for the customer is vital to success.

Humanize Your Brand

Technology and the Internet provide a number of ways to bring personality to your brand. Choose a personable employee to author a blog and invite interaction with consumers. Introduce various employees in the blog including the company owner. Set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and post valuable information users of your product will appreciate. Articles and videos including "how to" information are very popular and gain a loyal following if posted on a regular schedule. Learn to listen to consumers and they will become your "best" frands.

franding is a new and exciting recognition of the people who are loyal to your company, brand, and product. Incorporating the frand philosophy into your business model is a positive step in building customer loyalty.

Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist of M16 Marketing, is a branding, responsive web design and SEO marketing consultant. He is passionate about building brands, enhancing the user experience and helping small businesses generate more traffic, leads and conversions.

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