Sometimes we need a quick reality check. Branding is simple.
There’s a tendency to make branding complicated, but it’s not. To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the relationship, stupid.”
Strong brands form strong relationships with customers. It’s that simple. When your customers know your brand, like it, and trust it — they’ll choose it first.
If you get the relationship right, everything else gets so much easier.
Build Relationships Early and Often
The best time to start building a customer relationship is three years before they have a need for your products and services.
Three years may seem like a long time, especially if you have a short sales cycle, but building relationships goes beyond sales transactions.
Three years is a good time horizon, because getting customers to know your brand, like it, and trust it takes time. Think of your brand as a bank. Each positive customer interaction is a small deposit of trust.
Serving your customers well, generating reviews and buzz, and promoting your brand are all deposits in the trust bank.
Relationships Bring Customers Back
A brand isn’t sticky without repeat customers.
Winning a sale is great, but there’s something wrong if the customer doesn’t come back again and again.
Marketing hype scratches off quickly. Brands like Sweet Jesus can create controversy and publicity to generate awareness and get lots of one-time customers. But strong brands have substance. There’s more to them than great marketing.
Investing in customer relationships delivers two tangible benefits:
- Higher customer loyalty. Customers are less likely to “kick the tires” and explore other options when they know, like, and trust your brand.
- Lower customer acquisition costs. It’s less expensive to sell your products and services when your brand has deep customer relationships. These customers are fans. They refer often, and provide social proof.
Loyal customers and lower customer acquisitions costs are competitive advantages that you can take the bank.
Branding Is a Process
Building lasting relationships is a process that takes time and commitment, but it’s fundamental to branding.
When your customers know your brand, like it, and trust — they’ll choose it first.
Building strong customer relationships starts with a choice. Do you want to sell to a customer once, or are you building a brand where your customers come back again and again?
I choose the latter.