Branding Strategies That Create Customers Who Spend 300% More How to use the Internet to create and grow your brand.

By Linda Orr

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Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Brand equity or its value is based on how much profit a brand makes, how strong the brand is in comparison to the competitors and the role that the branding plays in the product purchase. A Nike logo matters for shoe purchases, a Keebler Elf matters a little, but not as much in cookie purchasing. The number one brand in the world, Apple, is presently worth $214 billion.

Branding is the process of creating a name, logo, symbol, and personality to represent your product or service. Brands become valuable when customers associate high value and quality products or services with your brand. Branding is vital because it creates a memorable imprint on the consumers' brain that helps establish awareness and long-term loyalty. It provides a consistent image so consumers know what to expect. Satisfaction is based on meeting or exceeding expectations. A stable, positive image is essential. New entrepreneurs spend so much time building their new products that the importance of branding is often forgotten. The branding process can seem daunting for a new entrepreneur, but a few simple steps can start the process.

1. Establish a brand identity.

Base your brand identity on the product's key value proposition, which is the number one reason why customers purchase your product or service. The proposition should be able to be stated in a clear, succinct manner. Base all subsequent communications on this image. Lyft stresses, "Rides in minutes," whereas Uber claims to be "The smartest way to get around." Thumbtack "helps you find experienced professionals." While conducting sales training, I found that veteran sales reps typically struggle to state their company's value position. The reps would usually report what product they sell, in feature-specific terms. For example, the reps would say, "We sell after-market automotive parts." They would struggle to say why the customers buy their product in value-specific terms. Instead, the value proposition should be, "We sell auto products that cannot be found anywhere else, to repair your antique and valuable vehicles easily and quickly." Value and quality always matter first and foremost.

Related: The 8 Laws of Branding

2. Consider the look of the brand.

Part of a brand identity involves the visual representation of it, which includes the logo, the colors, type font, and other design aspects. Research on the effects of color has shown that color is a critical aspect of branding. Between 62 and 90 percent of the customer's initial product assessment is based on color. For example, red represents power and energy, or passion and love, and green exemplifies nature, health, fertility, and good luck. These meanings are culturally based. Keep color consistent throughout your webpage and any social media you use so that customers associate these feelings with your brand.

Font and logos can create a great deal of emotion. Google fonts is a library of 915 fonts, most of which are available for use with an open license. Many sites demonstrate the best Google Fonts to use. The most important thing is readability and accessibility. Creativity can lead to pretty, artistic fonts, but these are not as easy to read. Studies have found that Arial is easiest to read, but harder to read fonts, are more memorable because you have to slow down to read. Again, be consistent across all sites and postings. Make sure that that your branding strategies are distinct from competitors and memorable, like the Lyft mustaches.

3. Create brand awareness.

Once you have your brand's value proposition and image, you can use the Internet to build awareness. Know where your target market is. Know what sites they frequent online and what influencers they follow. Some of these data can be found by merely spending time browsing and doing research. For any B2B business, customers likely use LinkedIn and trade associations or organizations unique to that industry. If you are looking to start an online catering service, your customer might be frequenting wedding websites or other party idea sites. Secondary data sources like Nielsen provide much of this information for a fee.

Related: 5 Startup Branding Trends to Watch for in 2019

Start producing content on your sites and as many external sites as possible that your target market might read. Produce as much different content as possible that may provide value to your customer. Give readers a reason to come back and learn more. Referring to the catering company example, discuss wedding planning topics at least weekly. Businesses that blog regularly get 97 percent more inbound business. Link to as many other social media channels that you can. Make it easy for other people to share or link to your material by using linking buttons. Press releases are especially useful and can increase your search ranking with Google. If appropriate to your company, post online videos and podcasts. The more you saturate the Internet, the more likely the customer can find your product.

4. Build trust, credibility and loyalty.

Once you begin to establish your clientele, make sure you consistently provide outstanding customer service and products. Customers will come back time after time if you provide a quality product and add value. Create a referral program. Give customers rewards to bring more customers to you. This tactic works by both bringing in more customers and keeping your current customers happy because they are receiving added benefits. Promote your product by encouraging happy customers to rate your product and provide feedback online.

Related: 13 Fun Facts That Will Make Your 'About Me' A Lot Less Boring

As you continue to build your business, do not change your brand. Do not change the logo, slogan, or any part of your brand identity. You spent all this time and money building awareness and loyalty. Why would you intentionally throw that away? Changing the brand or re-branding will erode this value. Coca-Cola has the fifth most valuable brand in the world, and they have never changed their logo. PepsiCo is known for frequently changing their logo. While PepsiCo has the 22nd most valuable brand, its brand equity is $40 billion less than Coca-Cola. The only time it ever makes sense to rebrand is when a brand has been destroyed beyond repair (Valujet). If you think that changing your brand on a slumping product will improve your sales, you do not understand your business.

Keep your customers engaged long term. Keep your conversations active and current so that customers want to participate in your communication efforts continually. The more people are involved, the more other people will want to be included due to social proof theory. Repeat customers spend 300 percent more on average than new customers.

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Linda Orr

Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Akron

Dr. Linda Orr is a Marketing Professor at the University of Akron. She has taught marketing and sales courses for over two decades and is the author of five books and many articles. Dr. Orr has experience in the record, restaurant and finance industries, along with numerous consulting experiences.

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