On a recent overseas trip I splashed some cash and stayed at a topnotch resort, just to mix things up from my usual camping-on-a-soil-surface-with-no-pillow kind of accommodation.
This resort was next level. I believe the bungalow would have hugged me if it could – puffy, fluffy towels that made me feel I was wrapping myself in an actual merino lamb, high-end bath products that yes, of course I stole, crisp linen bed sheets that I, to this day, want to die in… Everything was five-star. And I felt five star.
Cruising down to the breakfast bar in the morning, I wasn’t going to settle for my usual fruit salad and peppermint tea. Hell no, I was queen now – I sat down to a buffet spread of berry pancakes, freshly baked brioche, brandied butter and a side of spoilt-bloody-rotten. Why? Because I was spoilt-bloody-rotten. The resort branding radiated ‘You’re Worth It’ and I was buying into that culture like a kid chasing an ice cream truck.
It was all about one thing – branding. The bed-sheets were branding. The brioche was branding. Hell, even the butter was branding. And that my friend, is the power of a brand. When it’s done right, it spurs your people to create an emotional affinity with the culture of your business, and that, in turn creates customer loyalty. And if you ain’t heard – loyalty is pretty much like candied gold in the biz world.
So how do you do this if your business isn’t bed sheets, brioche and all things resort-life? Well, I don’t claim to know how to win the hearts of every single customer out there (would I be writing this blog post if I did?!). But I do know a few things that have worked a treat for me. These are my go-to dance moves when luring my dreamboat clients to the dancefloor:
- BE GENUINE
I’m a strong believer that great brands aim for customers’ hearts, not their wallets. Establishing a genuine connection between you and your dreamboat client is the only way to engage with them at a high-quality level. The trick here, is genuinity. Don’t go chasing hearts if you don’t genuinely, 100% care about and care for those hearts. People can see right through the sleaze and it will send you to sorry town faster than you would run away from a bad pickup line. The whole experience you offer your customer should stir something in them, move them, excite them, make them proud to be a part of your culture and brand.
- SHARE YOUR STORY
By sharing your story with your customer, you take them along for the ride. Through as many channels as you can, show them your behind-the-scenes, your personality, your triumphs and your trials (as much as you’re willing to share). People buy into the story of the brand far more than they buy into your products or services. Customers no longer want to just know what you do, they want to know why you do what you do.
- LOOKS REALLY DO COUNT
Us humans are a superficial bunch. We like things that look good and are naturally drawn to things that are easy on the eye. Exhibit A: Ryan Gosling. Visual storytelling is the key to successful branding, but this doesn’t mean we (or our business) need to be the best dressed or look like something we are not. It does mean making sure our image reflects who we truly are.When you’re trying to emotionally connect with your dreamboat client, you’ll never form a true connection if your brand style isn’t a 100% true representation of you in all your sparkly-underpant glory. Ask yourself – how do you want people to feel when they engage with your brand? What emotions do you want to stir within your dreamboat clients? Does your current brand identity convey these emotions, or is it failing to connect with your dreamboat in some way? Maybe you need to invest in a rebrand, or maybe you can make some small tweaks to speak more directly to the heart?
- BRAND VOICE
If old mate Shakespeare taught us anything, it was that perfecting your prose is the fastest way to win hearts. Nailing your brand voice is a key ingredient to making an emotional connection with your dreamboat client. Your brand voice is how you write and speak, and across every touchpoint it should make the listener feel a certain way. Don’t get us wrong, not everything has to be full with emotional angst or extreme feels, but even a simple Instagram caption should express a piece of your personality or stir just a subtle smile from your dreamboat’s face.
- BRAND CONSISTENCY
We live in a crazy fast-paced uneasy world, with endless todo lists and constant hampster wheels that make us feel as though the end is never near. In a sea of too much, your dreamboat client needs to be able to recognise you from the crowd. He needs to be able to recall you from his memory, even when he can’t remember to pick the kids up from school. So how do you stay in the forefront of the busy person’s mind? You keep hitting them with the same messaging. Over and over. It’s crucial to capture the essence of you — your values, your key messages and what makes you unique — and communicate that through every single element of your brand. Your logo, your website, your tagline, your copy, your products, your packaging. The way you answer your phone, what you post on social media, how you dress on a Sunday. Everything.
- DELIVER SIMPLICITY
It’s as straightforward as this: the simpler the brand, the clearer the message. The clearer the message, the better the emotional connection. Simplicity allows for faster understanding and better decision making. When your brand communication is crystal clear, your message goes straight to your dreamboat’s heart without them having to think too much about it. If your brand message is diluted, convoluted or confused, then you may as well be the seven-hundredth rerun of a daytime soap on free-to-air TV… ie. easy to ignore.
- AUTHENTICITY, ALWAYS
Always strive for a brand that reflects your values and your vibe in all its shiny glory. Today’s customer is a smart cookie and can smell inauthenticity a mile away. Your ideal customer will be drawn to a brand with a unique and genuine story at its core. Staying true to your authentic self and standing in your unique ways allows you to easily and seamlessly tell your customer who you are, what you believe in and what you do best.
- LISTEN, REALLY LISTEN
Do you regularly listen and respond to your customers? Do you truly understand their concerns and needs; what’s behind the surface? Really listening helps customers feel welcome, comfortable and important in every interaction, whether it’s a phone call, face-to-face, email or chat.Another Fast Company winner, Walgreens, has really listened to its customers for the past 30 years. When their customers’ home and work lives became more hectic, Walgreens originated the drive-through pharmacy and began refilling prescriptions at any location. When customers with English as a second language said they could not read their prescriptions, Walgreens started printing prescription labels in 14 different languages. And, when older patrons noted that the print on labels was hard to read; you guessed it—they created large-type labels for older patrons.Make a point to regularly listen to your customers. Listen for validation or inconsistencies with your brand image. Be sure to listen to your associates too. View the frontline as much more than service responders who need to meet certain metrics, but a source of essential data and a driver of customer service innovation and satisfaction.
“Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Image Credit: Nat Turbull