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Brand Development

When things are going your way in business and life, it's easy to feel like you've got all the answers.

But you don't... nobody does. 

Just when you think it's all systems go and your brand is maximizing its potential, a chink in the armour rears its ugly head.

And while you come to terms with reality, in most cases, the actions you take to address areas of vulnerability will make or break your business in the end.

So how do you account for the unexpected and craft a brand strategy that's as bulletproof as possible?

What are some of the warning signs that your planning may not cover your ass the way you thought it did?

The strongest brand strategies typically account for evolving customer tastes and expectations. After all, it's predominantly your customers who shape your strategy, right? Capturing their hearts and minds is what marketing is all about.

The best way to connect with your customers and build a business they come to know and love is to shape your brand strategy around their identity and tendencies.

You've got to be honest with them though: who are you and why should they care? And of course, what's in it for them?

Being honest is only one aspect of the battle though.

Wait, today's date is WHAT?!

No joke: February is right around the corner, and just like that, we're a month closer to 2017.

Time really does fly.

But hopefully you've spent the first 27 days of the New Year wisely, eliminating nasty habits from 2015 and getting after your professional and personal goals.

Truth be told, I don't normally struggle when implementing new tasks into my routine (just don't consult my waistline!)

For me, the hardest part has always been building and maintaining momentum.

It's one thing to introduce changes – but finding ways to make them stick is a whole other animal.

Come to think of it, it's no different with your brand.

How many times have you said “This is the year we blog!” or “I'm going to cut our marketing costs by doing XYZ!”

And in many cases, I'm sure you followed through.

But for a day... maybe a week?

Becoming a reputable brand that consumers want to do business with takes a measured, consistent and honest approach.

And it normally doesn't happen overnight either!

Here are 3 keys that will help you implement habits that produce results and ensure you maintain momentum:

*On Monday January 25th 2016, social media and the world celebrate #CMAD, which is short for Community Manager Appreciation Day. I have so many friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Snapchat who work as Community Managers, and I wanted to write something that speaks to their immeasurable value to the brands that they work for. Keep engaging, never stop building relationships and always be social... Happy #CMAD!* What. A. Day. Some seemingly mindless banter on Twitter has exploded into a broader conversation across your industry and your customers are busy expressing their happiness with your products and the service you provide. People are literally tweeting your competitors and advocating on your behalf, explaining why you're the brand to beat. They're sharing their views in Facebook groups, causing your page views to skyrocket and filling your Inbox with orders. Your mentions on Instagram are blowing up, with many users reposting some of your latest special offers. How did this happen?! Simple. Your Community Manager engaged your followers and connections and BOOM! They took care of the rest.

I know that making New Year’s resolutions isn’t for everybody. And I have to admit, I’m on the fence as to whether or not it’s an effective practice, and that’s mainly based on let-downs from my past when the sobering realities of life crushed my unrealistic goals or strategies. But you’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t have anything to improve on in 2016. Nobody’s perfect, right? Some of us recognize this latter, much more logical notion but take it to the extreme, trying to improve in too many areas of our lives all at once, resulting in disappointment or failure. The key really, is to strike a balance between the constant desire for more and feeling satisfied with your efforts and results… but it’s actually quite difficult to accomplish. This is why I’m suggesting you make shaping your reputation – as a brand, person or professional – your primary resolution for 2016. This year, it’s time to focus on an area of your life you really can control: and by definition, your reputation is exactly that.

Every once in a while, a large multi-national brand rolls out a campaign that sets the social and digital worlds on fire. High levels of engagement, coast-to-coast community building, multiple influencers involved, a ton of exposure… Applebee’s #TasteTheChange is all that and more, leading many marketers to fully buy in to what they already know: live-streaming is the future. Thanks to platforms like Meerkat and Periscope – and perhaps most importantly, a willingness to fully embrace and employ technology in their marketing – Applebee’s is leading the way when it comes to drawing in eyeballs, creating conversation and bringing customers to their restaurants. Applebee's Oh, and I hear their new menu is outstanding, which definitely helps. After an extremely successful activation in Times Square, Applebee’s decided to up the ante and focus on the restaurant experience. While taking over the Big Apple was epic in its own right, there’s something to be said about sticking to your bread and butter as well. With 2 million free appetizers to give away, 12 hours of streaming planned and numerous live look-ins at locations across the U.S., #TasteTheChange was real marketing, with real people, in real-time. Historically speaking, many big brands get a bad rap for being impersonal or too robotic in how they market their products and services. And while I’m sure many of them would love to let their hair down a little, it’s much easier to play it safe in an effort to keep their image squeaky clean. There’s something intoxicating (and terrifying!) about putting your brand in the hands of your customers without any major filters or a laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” Think about it: during #TasteTheChange, Applebee’s welcomed live-streaming parties, where realistically anything could have happened. But brands who appreciate the power of now assume that risk because they know the guaranteed positives outweigh the potential negatives. Here’s why I think Applebee’s #TasteTheChange is the way forward: