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Key Steps for Building Strong Brand/Customer Relationships

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Key Steps for Building Strong Brand/Customer Relationships

In modern business, standing out from the crowd isn’t easy. A strong brand-customer relationship is vital, as it drives customer loyalty and engagement. This can be the deciding factor in your business’s long-term success. 

This article will explore the importance of your brand-customer relationship. We’ll explain how the four principles of brand management can help you build and maintain that relationship.

What is a Brand-Customer Relationship?

Key Steps for Building Strong BrandCustomer Relationships

Your brand-customer relationship is the connection between your business and its customers. It’s influenced by various factors, but is essentially formed through the perception and reputation of your brand. You build this relationship on trust, loyalty, and engagement. 

As well as the quality of the products or services you offer, your company’s reputation is also important. So is the customer’s overall experience with your brand. To put it simply, there are both tangible and intangible aspects to your brand-consumer relationship.  

The tangible aspects include the quality of your products and services, as well as your sales, customer service, and support. We measure and affect the intangible parts of the brand-customer relationship with brand management. 

Why is Brand-Customer Relationship Important?

It’s well-known that customer experience is one of the most critical factors in customer loyalty – and your brand-customer relationship is central to this. A good relationship encourages customer loyalty through engagement. 

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Customers who have a positive experience with your brand, and thus a strong brand-customer relationship, are more likely to recommend your company to others and make repeat purchases. This drives higher customer lifetime values and can grow your revenue through word-of-mouth and social sharing. 

In addition, a solid brand-customer relationship helps to differentiate your business from its competitors. Positive associations with your brand make it easier for customers to identify and choose it over others.

The 4 Principles of Brand Management

So, now you know what we mean by a brand-customer relationship. But it probably still seems like a vague concept. Yet, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re affecting it with everyday business decisions, advertising, and communications. 

That’s why many established businesses have dedicated brand management teams to build consistency across your brand. These four overlapping principles guide brand management strategy. Measuring them will show you the state of your brand-customer relationship.  

1. Awareness

This is how aware your target audience is of your brand versus others in your market. Think of synonymous brands such as Coke for soft drinks or Hoover for vacuums. These are the brands with the highest level of awareness in their respective areas.  

Most businesses won’t become household names, but there are other ways to measure brand awareness. Analyzing organic searches for your brand name, as well as social media mentions, content shares, and so on, can give you a good idea of your audience’s awareness level.

That said, raising brand awareness isn’t just about getting your brand name in front of people. Increasing and maintaining awareness means you must also stand out in the customer’s memory. For brand managers, this means creating a unique brand personality for your business. 

2. Reputation

Your reputation is what customers think about when they see your brand. This might be certain words or emotions they associate with your brand or product or a generally positive or negative sentiment.  

This has a significant overlap with your brand awareness. If you’re not working on maintaining your brand reputation while growing awareness, you can spread negative sentiments and do more harm than good for your brand. 

Building a positive reputation takes time. You can affect it through your communication, service, recruitment, and community projects. Your company culture, mission statement, and guiding principles can also tell external stakeholders about your reputation and values. 

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3. Loyalty

Research shows that loyal customers are five times more likely to make repeat purchases and four times more likely to recommend your business. That’s why customer loyalty is the goal of your efforts to improve your brand awareness and reputation.

Easier said than done? Perhaps. Customer loyalty can be challenging to build, partly because many customers look for different things to get their best experience out of a business. Some customers value convenience and price, while others want on-demand support. 

For example, customers who come to your brand for value might appreciate your customer service measures such as a toll-free number or online text chat for inquiries. On the other hand, those looking for convenience might appreciate a premium-rate line that guarantees instant access to support. 

That means that to increase customer loyalty, brand managers must analyze customer behavior and feedback. Personalization is a major driver of customer loyalty. When you listen to a customer’s needs and make changes based on feedback, you show that you value their contribution to your business.

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4. Equity

Brand equity represents your brand’s perceived value. Think of it as the premium customers are willing to pay to access your brand over cheaper competitors. This leads to higher ROI on both new and developed products, as you can incorporate this into your pricing. 

In his book, “Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity”, author Kevin Lane Keller describes four key steps to building your brand equity:

  • Establish your brand identity by identifying your target audience. Then, create your brand assets and stories around it. 
  • Define what your brand means. You do this by clearly stating your company values and through the projects you choose to support. 
  • Analyze how customers respond to your brand. What feelings and emotions does your brand evoke? Direct feedback and sentiment analysis are two good ways to judge this. 
  • Build your brand resonance by developing your existing customer relationships. Use your brand management to form deeper emotional connections with your customer base. 

High customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are key indicators that your brand equity is rising.  

How to Use Brand Management to Improve Customer Relations

Now you understand the principles of brand management, let’s look at how to use this in an everyday business setting to improve your customer relations.  

Start With Brand Basics

If you’re new to brand management, the first step to improving customer relations is establishing a clear and consistent brand identity. This means developing a brand strategy, mission statement, and brand identity that aligns with your business’s values and goals.

You’ll also need to make key decisions about core brand assets like your logo design. Simple assets or slogans can be crucial in reinforcing the emotions and values you want customers to associate with your brand. Give these decisions the time and thought they deserve. 

Share Your Stories

Whether we’re talking about your brand’s origin story, mission, or even employee journeys and customer testimonials, sharing these stories will help you make deeper emotional connections with your customers. 

For example, many companies make support content like video tutorials for their products. But one way to make your customers feel more connected to this process is to share user-generated content with success tips and product guides.  

Optimize Your Online Visibility

In today’s digital age, your business needs to have a strong online presence. Optimizing your online visibility can increase brand awareness and reach more customers. 

This includes developing a website and creating social media profiles, as well as covering other basics like listing your brand in online directories and review sites.

Create an Internal Branding Guide

A strong brand identity is not just built by communicating with customers. You also need to ensure that employees understand and align with the company’s branding efforts. You can achieve this by creating an internal branding guide. 

Use this as a reference for all employees to ensure consistency in tone of voice and other branding markers for all departments.

Focus on Your Customer Journey

It’s vital to understand how customers interact with your brand, from the awareness stage to post-purchase. By understanding the customer value journey, you can identify areas for improvement and tailor your branding efforts to meet the needs of your customers at each stage.

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Engage Your Customers on Their Terms

Engaging with your customers on the channels they prefer is crucial to building a strong brand-customer relationship. Whether it’s social media, email, phone, or in-person interactions your audience prefers, make sure they can access your brand on those channels.

Personalize the Customer Experience

While we can fit customers into groups and demographics, each one is also unique. By analyzing a customer’s preferences as they interact with your business, you can give them a customer experience that meets their needs every time. 

This can be small, simple, gestures. For example, give your priority customers access to a separate business phone number to speed up their support experience.  

Analyze and Improve

Finally, to truly optimize your brand-customer relationship, you need to analyze your performance and make adjustments as you go. This includes tracking website traffic, monitoring social media engagement and sentiments, and analyzing customer feedback. 

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By using analytics, you can make data-driven decisions to improve customer relations and drive growth. 

Final Thoughts: It’s all in the Details

Your brand-customer relationship goes deeper than your surface interactions with your customers. When we’re talking about subjective factors like emotion and engagement, the little details can make the biggest difference. 

Even seemingly unrelated decisions like your choice of website hosting providers can have a knock-on effect. Does your domain name reflect your brand? Is it instantly recognizable to customers? When we think about it in these terms, it’s easy to see why a choice like this can have repercussions for your brand. 

Effective brand management means you don’t have to fret about the small details of every decision. Having a clear brand strategy and documents like an internal branding guide help ensure consistency, even up to the decision-making level.  


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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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