A great brand starts from within. Be clear about who you are and what you stand for. This becomes a filter for everything that you do. Consider putting in a couple of favorite brands and mentioning that their power comes from their authenticity – it makes it so much easier to relate to the brand, because you believe and trust it. Possibly: Lululemon (everything is about health and wellness), Disney (everything has that genuine magic and excitement), Moet & Chandon (truly authentic, luxurious champagne). The easiest way to achieve this authenticity in your brand, is to look within – understand your values and be true to them.
Becoming a vet
Combining with love of getting outdoors and staying fit
My progressive practice, TV shows, etc.
So what are my values? Well… [doggy story]
And [cooking story]
Background story: chiropractor + love of dogs + love of food + stress and sidetracked through kids / divorce, Storm’s illness, hot spots etc. Which all led to my current values, which I describe as X,Y,Z This is, and I am, Lucky Dog Cuisine. I want people to feel good about serving my food. I want people to feel the joy of eating and feeding and sharing food with others…
Emphasise: ‘ living ’ – constantly evolving, not something you create and execute. As the world and the market changes around you, your brand needs to evolve as well to stay relevant. It is also living in the sense that people (customers) interact and discuss the brand without me in the room – particularly with the prevalence of social media today. I have limited control over how it is talked about in these circumstances, but if I am clear and simple in my brand promises, then hopefully I can guide positive brand experiences and positive discussions. But the point is, it lives beyond me and we have to accept that. ‘ Business asset ’ – it is just that, an asset. Intangible though it is, it still needs to be managed as an asset – it helps people identify us, believe in us, quickly understand why we are different, whether or not their values align with ours and ultimately whether or not they should buy, or continue to buy our product. ‘ Value ’ – yes, this means $ for us (of course – it’s a business). But value is a flexible term: you must also think about it from the perspective of the customer – the value I provide to them is the joy that they have of knowing they are doing the best for their dogs, knowing that they are contributing to a healthy and long relationship with their dogs. Value exists on both sides of the equation – on the buy side AND the sell side. Brand helps prospective customers to understand that value proposition.
Firstly, it drives choice. If people know who we are and what we stand for, then it makes it easier for them to choose us. Familiarity goes a long way. Imagine you’ve never had a glass of cola before, and you had a choice between Coca-Cola or store brand – which do you think you would want to try first? Exactly.
Secondly, it drums up loyalty. Coca-cola has continued to grow throughout the recession – testament to the strength of the brand. Our Lucky Dog brand has helped us to achieve phenomenal retention rates as well. So long as we continue to deliver on our brand promises (joy + love), then people don’t like to leave us
Thirdly, it of course allows us to charge a premium – because people see the value in the joy that our product provides.
I thought if I built at online presence, I would drive sales. Not so
Maybe clichéd, but it really is about relationships – I changed my mindset toward it and started using it as a way to connect and communicate with like-minded people It goes both ways – customers can connect with me and better understand my values, and I can connect with customers to better understand their values Also keeps my finger on the pulse of the industry – I see the way the market talks about dog food and their dogs. I know their concerns and it helps me respond With this mindset, I was able to be introduced with Patrick Helped me to relax. Now that I understand what it is, and my expectations are aligned, I don’t get stressed out or angry anymore.
Another way to think about brands, is as though they are ‘experience ecosystems’. Example: Wholefoods, you experience through online, WOM, in-store, etc. etc. All these different experiences create an overall perception of a brand. Creating consistent experiences is key to a strong brand, whether it be online or in store. You need to ensure that your use of social media is not isolated and that it complements everything else you do. For example, initially when we tried to educate customers through twitter and got no resonance, we realized that this is because it’s not aligned with people’s expectations of our brand. If we are about joy and love, then ramming doggy cancer stats through twitter is not going to resonate very well at all. Twitter / Facebook / SM in general is another outlet and you need to be consistent with the experiences that you provide through them. We adapted, and now instead of saying how our grade of beef meets criteria x,y,z, I will tweet that ‘the house smells amazing while I’m cooking up a batch of beef and barley’. This implies quality and it also communicates in a way consistent with family cooking and love. This was a huge finding for me. Use that brand as a filter to decide how to get your messaging across.
My advice? Have a strategy. Have a plan about what you want to achieve from social media. Saying ‘I should be there’ is just not enough to justify investing in the presence. What are your objectives for being in the space? Where are your customers and therefore which tools should you use? For me, my plan became threefold: To connect with like-minded people first and foremost. Whether they are prospective customers, prospective partners or just dog lovers, it really doesn’t matter to me, they all help me develop my business To keep my finger on the pulse – to stay connected To give my customers an extra channel to contact me with questions. It’s a reality of business today that customers want to be able to interact with businessses in any way they should choose. This presence gives them an extra opportunity
Articulate your objectives For me it was to seek like-minded people, f\\or you it may be different Getting your client base, seeing what people want, finding out where they get their information from, or where they found out about your company.
Identify target audience - Personify them, create a typical profile of your user and then craft your messaging to suit. When you type your message, consider how that person would receive it.
Converse in a human way: Cardiff crunchy images of eyeing food Janice talking about how the house smells great and of turkey from cooking the dog food. Gets across healthy nutrition + love of food and cooking for others. I learned the hard way that ‘educating’ doesn’t work – we have to find more joyful and human ways of communicating our values Ultimately, our social media strategy helps us to engage with people with similar values, and helps customers reaffirm that their values align with our brand’s values. It provides reassurance and generates loyalty as they consolidate their belief in our product
Respect your audiences’ time They have a lot of other things they read, you have to provide value with each post. Post too much and they will cease to pay attention.
Respond in real time / Demonstrate you care Set a personal response time rule for yourself and stick to it (e.g. 24 hrs/48 hrs)
Lack of interaction doesn’t mean no one’s listening The majority of online personas are ‘lurkers’, don’t give up – they may form a critical part of your future client base. However, do ensure that the content of your posts is consistent with your brand promise – remember the experience ecosystem?
Words are not the only tool – be visual where it makes sense Appropriate profile photos help to humanize you and make you easier to relate to. How to define appropriate? Consider your brand as a filter Seasonal comments are also powerful
I’m not an expert, it’s taken awhile to establish something that works for me and my business. It probably will for you too. Expect an iterative process
Social media is constantly evolving, and you so should you
Share testimonials – a recommendation in someone else’s words is more powerful than you saying how great your product is. Encourage others to share their stories
Dr. Patrick Mahaney and Dr. Janice Elebaas: 5 Steps to Building Your Brand as a Reflection of Your Principles v2