Do you stay true to your brand, or to your customers? Let’s explore.
Your brand (even if your brand is just you!) is your promise to your customers. It’s what you stand for and what makes you unique. It comprises your mission, values and areas of differentiation. It helps you stand out in market. It represents your value to the world – to your customers and beyond. You want your customers to know your brand. You want a consistent reputation. You want to build longevity.
You want to stay true to your brand – and to yourself. If you don’t, your customers will take notice. It’s a lot easier to be who you were meant to be than someone you’re not.
You need them! And they are smart people. You can learn a lot from them. You wouldn’t have a brand if you didn’t have these folks around to support it. But dig deeper. Do you know what they think of your company? Do you simply offer a quick solution to their identified need and it really doesn’t matter to them where they are going to fulfill that need? Or are they in it for you? Because you represent what they value?
You can learn a lot by understanding your customers’ perception of your brand. And remember … perception is reality in the world of branding. So your customer’s perception is certainly something you should be building into your brand strategy.
So what happens when you and your customer have those moments in time when you’re simply not aligned? Who takes precedence? Do you stay true to your brand, or true to your customer?
Stay true to both. Stay true to your brand but recognize when your customers may be feeling a bit of a disconnect. And then re-connect with them. Without having to change the core foundation of who you are.
A Quick Story
I was recently at my physician’s office. This particular day I saw both my family practitioner as well as an orthopedic physical therapist (bad knees). With my physician, I talked about diet. Why, after 10 years of never fluctuating in weight, am I suddenly fluctuating in weight? With the physical therapist, I talked about the bad knees. What can I do with these things (things = my bad knees) that still allow me to be active, which contributes to my overall happiness?
The answer from both, even though I met with them independently, was learning to adapt. Take a different approach. Don’t change who you are – just learn to adapt along the way. And be open to that.
Adapting does not necessarily mean changing your beliefs and values. It means keeping up with the times. Markets change. New competitors arrive. Expectations change. So your strategy can change, too!
Let’s go back to my day with the doctors and the topic of a diet. A probiotic? Consider watching my gluten intake? What?
Then there’s the physical therapist and my bad knees. Daily knee exercises? Stretch more? Twice-per-month check in’s? Really?
My mind, in this case, is my brand. My body is the customer. Pretend with me. My customer is telling me that my brand needs to keep up with the times (cough-cough: my age). This customer doesn’t want to give up on me – they really like me – but I need to adapt just a bit to what the customer is needing.
So I adapted. And everyone is happy. For now.
Confidence in Brand Strategy
Identifying a brand strategy will help you stay the course – and feel confident in your course – even when you feel your customers are going off course. Because you document the how, what, where, when and to whom you plan to communicate your brand. And when the time comes to shift that brand strategy just a bit, you’re in a better position to do so.
If your customer is telling you they suddenly consume content in a different manner, then I would listen to your customer. Does that change your values? Your mission? Probably not. But when your message suddenly fails to connect with your audience, it’s likely time for a new messaging strategy.
Evolving your brand strategy doesn’t mean you are losing your brand. You still know who you are and who you want to be. Just be sure you also know who your customers think you are, so you can work to keep those perceptions aligned along the way. And be sure to factor those brand perceptions into your overall branding strategy.
You can’t be everything to everyone. Know who you want to be, who you want to be there for, and recognize branding is a relationship where we all must give and take a little along the way. Make changes as seldom as possible, and as often as necessary.