Customers have always looked for great products and services. Today, though, they’re looking beyond what you can provide. To earn their business, you also have to prove that your beliefs and philosophies align with theirs. But how can you make sure you’re communicating the values of your brand so that customers accurately understand and empathize with your beliefs? Here are a few key points to keep in mind.
EMPLOYEES ARE YOUR BIGGEST AMBASSADORS
At its core, branding is a sort of psychological warfare. It’s all about the impression you make on the customer. Traditional marketing techniques (e.g., TV ads) and more contemporary strategies (e.g., influencer marketing) inarguably shape that impression and play a key role in getting your company’s message out to customers. But ideally, good marketing is built from the inside out.
Employees are your biggest megaphone for your mission, vision, and values. They are the ones who interact with your customers every day. As a leader, it’s imperative that you connect with your employees and understand what’s truly important to them by conducting employee engagement surveys. If you show that there is a crisp, clear connection between what’s important to them and what’s important to the brand, then workers are more likely to be eager, authentic ambassadors of your brand, and more dedicated to providing a better customer experience.
But if you behave one way in front of your customers and another way in front of your employees, be prepared for your workers to point out your hypocrisy—a reality some companies faced when they made statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Showing the connection between what matters to your team and what matters to the brand goes beyond simple lip service. You have to model this connection in every business behavior, because doing something that doesn’t match what you’ve said will send confusing, contradictory signals that can make it difficult to trust you.
So, ask yourself if the impression you’re leaving on your employees—and subsequently, on your customers—matches what’s important to the business from a values perspective, and whether those values are present in your actions. For instance, who does the brand sponsor? Are you practicing the self-care you preach to your team? How do you really treat the people on your payroll or the people who buy from you? The entire picture matters, not just bits and pieces.
A BEAUTIFUL, PROFITABLE CYCLE
When you successfully build your brand from the inside out and give a consistent impression through what you say and do, something beautiful happens. You start attracting people who actually agree with your values and beliefs.
The outerwear company Patagonia is a great example. Just before the 2020 presidential election, the company included tags in some of its products that read “Vote the a**holes out.” The bold message was meant to encourage voters to take action against politicians who deny climate change—and to make the brand’s beliefs exceptionally clear. Posts about the tags went viral, with one Twitter user commenting, “If this is real they also have us as customers. I don’t really know what they sell, but I’ll buy some.”
Why does this matter? Because when you get to a place where a brand and its customers can feed off each other, and when everyone is truly connected on an emotional level, then you have true engagement and loyalty. That’s when you can start to see hyper growth and mega success within the business, and the profits to match.
TO RESONATE WITH BUYERS, TAKE YOUR STAND AND DON’T LOOK BACK
In the past, companies often got away with keeping some secrets or not taking a stand, so long as they sold something awesome that customers wanted or needed at the right price. But modern culture is increasingly full of deeply controversial social issues. People want to know where brands fall. Stunt marketing doesn’t work anymore. Companies have to be honest and real, and they have to be consistent with messaging rather than virtue signaling when it’s convenient. This starts from within your business because it’s your workers who will pass your values on to your buyers.
Identify what your values are. Live and breathe them within your business. If you do it right, then you’ll attract people who think and act as you do, and it will be easier to grow organically. No matter what industry you’re in, that’s always the goal.