The importance of strong brand vitality cannot be underestimated. Brands are more than logos, colors, and tag-lines. They are the backbone of every company, and they contribute to your business's marketing success (or failure!)
As you develop your own brand and work hard to reach customers, remember that the most successful brands have four pillars: product, service, price, and people. All four should be constantly aligned to create strong brand vitality!
So, how can a renewed focus on these four pillars of branding help you achieve true brand vitality?
Let's take a closer look at each, and discover how you can use your new brand marketing knowledge to inject fresh life into your brand over the next year!
What is a Brand?
Before you reach the pillars, it's always good to stop and remember the foundation that they stand upon. So what do we mean when we talk about "brands"?
To borrow from the experts at Harvard Business School, a brand is the "psychological association between concepts and attributes.” This means that a strong and vital brand isn't just your name or logo. It's how you market yourself overall, and this idea carries through all four pillars of branding.
Your brand is the words that sell your product or service. It's the price and quality of your product or service. It's how you treat employees and how you define yourself to customers. Ultimately, it's the sum of all the elements that make up your company!
Once you know what makes a brand a brand, it's time to know if your brand vitality is alive or barely getting by on life support.
The key? Building four strong pillars on top of your brand’s foundation.
The 4 Pillars of a Robust Brand
So, how do you create a brand that supports your business? That builds and strengthens relationships with customers? It all begins with these four pillars:
Pillar 1: Product
The product or service that your company offers is the cornerstone of branding. This sells you to customers, so it's vital to create something (or enhance what you have) that brings value to your customers.
For example, Dell created the first online retail "building" that allowed customers to design their own computer systems and then shipped them directly from a factory.
This was revolutionary for businesses that struggled with the delivery or inventory of their products. It also built trust between the customer and brand through creative and innovative marketing.
This pillar is where you can show the value of your brand. How do you create a product or service that makes what matters to people come alive? That's where true relationships begin!
Pillar 2: Service
The second pillar, service, is how you provide assistance and support to customers. This includes delivery, installation, guarantees or warranties, customer care services like live chat, and so on. It also includes the various support you provide, including how you respond to online reviews and ratings.
You can focus on improving your service by creating more direct relationships with customers or prospects. For example:
Offer easy options for contacting your company – a phone number that people can call from or an email address where they don't have to search for it.
Be transparent and honest about your policies or actions, even if you think they will hurt your image! You can recover from mistakes and negative reviews by being open and willing to apologize – people are more likely to forgive a mistake or mishap when your company demonstrates that it's trying hard to learn from it.
Create a list of the most commonly asked questions, and put them online for visitors to access.
Post a list of your company's values, and make it clear that you're committed to holding yourself accountable to those rules even when faced with challenges or difficult decisions.
The bottom line is that you need to show customers that you will do whatever it takes to deliver value. That means supporting your product or service when the going gets tough!
Pillar 3: Price
The third pillar in branding is price, and this is where strong brands set themselves apart. In many cases, a lower price may attract more people – but if you don't deliver on what's promised, your brand won't be considered valuable.
Strong brands find a way to deliver the best value for their price and focus on creating quality products that balance cost-effectiveness with high standards. The bottom line is choosing the right pricing structure to fit your brand's identity!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself regarding your pricing:
Are you able to create a pricing structure that offers the most competitive cost but still meets your standards of quality?
Are you willing to shift your brand image in order to provide an exceptionally low price?
What products or services can you offer that allows for a better value? Could it be faster delivery or enhanced support with the purchase, for example?
Pillar 4: People
The fourth and final pillar is people. People who work for the company are still an integral part of the brand – their actions, behaviors, beliefs, and words are all parts of how the customer perceives a company.
Are you creating a culture where your employees feel valued? Do they have opportunities to grow in their career with your company? Are they able to communicate with customers in ways that help your brand receive positive feedback and stay trustworthy?
A strong culture is created at the beginning of the branding process. In fact, it's imperative you create a culture founded on trust, where people can feel free to share their ideas without fear of judgment or negative backlash from others.
Create a culture of transparency, and your people will be able to share information with customers that help them understand how they can trust your brand.
How Your Pillars Impact Your Brand Vitality
Now that you know the four main pillars of your brand, it's time to strengthen those pillars so you can create a vibrant brand that stays strong in the face of time and adversity. The best part about this process is that it starts with you!
This is where brand vitality comes into play. Your brand's vitality determines its ability to grow today and thrive tomorrow. As the leader of your company, you don't want to simply "set it and forget it" with your brand! You want it to grow, thrive, and exponentially return on your initial investment.
When you focus on the power of your pillars, you can trust that your brand vitality will be stronger than ever. And in the end, you'll have a brand that supports your business and makes it stronger!
How to Strengthen Your Brand's Pillars
Now that you've read this far, here are two questions to answer:
How is your brand's vitality?
How are your pillars?
For your brand to grow and thrive, it is essential that you take time to reflect on how vital your brand is today. Is it as strong and vibrant as you'd like? If not, it's time to invest in strategies to increase your vitality.
Let's consider one pillar and how you can begin to strengthen it to increase your brand's effectiveness.
Supercharge Your Product Pillar
Become Your Own Product Expert
As a mortgage or real estate professional, it's your job to know everything about the products and services you offer. This means you should be familiar with the ins and outs of your product line, as well as how they work together to create a solid foundation for your business.
But what else can you do? It all starts with knowing exactly what sets your product apart from the competition and why your customer should choose your services over the next option down the street.
Know Your Competition
Tools such as SWOT analysis and marketing strategy can help you determine which product features to tout and how you can position your brand in the eyes of clients.
The strength of your product pillar determines how effective your business will be at selling itself as an expert in its field without the need for excessive advertising or promotion. It also makes it easier to create a clear difference and unique selling point for your business.
Adapt Your Product for Tomorrow's Customer
When you have an answer to this question, you can move on to the "how" of how your product works for your customers. Do they feel they are getting what they want out of their purchase? If not, how can you improve that value exchange so that customers get a better return on their investment with you?
To build your brand's product pillar, it's essential to understand why customers buy your products and services.
What makes them click "buy now?" How can you help them get value from the information they receive during their time with you?
These are just a few ways to strengthen this pillar so that your product is intrinsically tied to your brand's strength.
When you offer a high-quality product or service, it will be easier to gain word-of-mouth referrals that increase your sales over time. When your customers are happy with the value they're getting from your business, you can expect more clients and repeat traffic as well!
Don't Forget: You Aren't Alone in Your Brand Development
Brand vitality can be a strong force in the financial world if you know how to use it.
But just like any other business, it needs to be sustained and nourished to keep growing as a business asset. When you support your brand's vitality, it leads to a stronger business overall.
Make an appointment with yourself to consider how vital your brand is. Are the pillars you are relying on strong enough for the challenges that lie ahead?
If not, what do you need to do to strengthen them to continue moving forward with confidence and momentum? Just remember: working to support your brand's vitality pays off in the long run.
What are you doing to strengthen your brand's pillars? We'd love to hear your ideas and feedback!