Most businesses recognize the value of building customer-first brands. All the aspects of your branding—including naming, brand visuals like logos, and written messaging—should resonate with customers.
There’s a catch, though. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, how can you express your brand in an impactful way?
Businesses exist to solve a problem. Most business owners can easily describe the physical problem they solve. “This vacuum cleaner will get your floor clean!” But it can be hard to figure out a deeper emotional connection without knowing more about your customer.
When you can describe motivations, values, and pain points for your customer, you get a gold mine of information on how to market yourself to them. This can help you solve an emotional problem for them, which helps build customer loyalty because you “get them.” For example, maybe they want that floor cleaned because they’re a young parent and they want to know they’re doing their very best for their child.
The most successful brands put their customers at the center, not themselves. Customers want to know that you care about them. Knowing your customers and putting them first in the sales equation will ultimately lead them to trust and care about you.
Remember, branding is all-encompassing. Many people think of one singular aspect, like a logo, a name, or a photograph as the “brand.” But at our branding and design agency, Paper Lime Creative, we argue that businesses need to start thinking about branding as every interaction with the paying customer, potential customer, and even the customers we don’t want to serve. Curating your brand across the board can help you attract or repel the right people. Think about the price point, customer service, contracts, policies or terms of service, dress code of employees, website experience, social media experience, and more.
Once you know your customers, how can you create custom strategies for them?
Knowing your customers—what they like and where they are—are two big steps in the right direction. When you know what they like, you can mirror what their favorite brands are doing, collaborate with their favorite brands, gift their favorite brands. When you know where they are, both physically and digitally, you can make sure your advertising and public relations are reaching them. If they’re not reading Forbes, then why get published in Forbes? If they spend hours on Pinterest, start creating content!
Repel customers? Why would I do that?
You don’t want to serve everyone. We’ve all had a bad customer experience. The micro-managers or the ones who nitpick on price, the ones that are never happy. You can use your branding—whether through price point, policy, messaging, or visuals—to steer those people elsewhere. Controversial advertising can be a great way to do this. Think about all the people that boycotted Nike (and burned their shoes) after Nike partnered with Colin Kaepernick. Nike didn’t want customers that didn’t share their values, probably at a cost to their bottom line, and the Kaepernick ad campaign was a remarkable way to cull the herd.
People are often concerned about getting so specific that they will narrow their opportunities, when getting specific actually allows you to think creatively and work with the people you truly enjoy doing work for.
Craft amazing branding and marketing opportunities
When you can truly identify your ideal customer, you can start thinking about out-of-the-box solutions. We had a real estate professional get a booth at a local farmers market because that’s where her clients were. And you know what? It’s where her competitors weren’t!
How well do you know the people your business is speaking to? Learn your customer. Learn them so well you may feel like you know them better than you know yourself! When you know what will create shock, awe, wonder, tears, and laughter for your customer, you begin to build an authentic, lasting relationship.
And authentic, long-term relationships with customers create long-term business success.
Katie Dooley is the Founder of Paper Lime Creative, a branding and design agency in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Her love of design and art took shape at a young age, and since then, she’s been soaking in as much knowledge about art, business, and design as she can.