Building brand associations with your customers


 ‘Instead of asking how we can get people to buy more of our stuff we should be asking how we can give our customers more of what they need.’

Our last post explained what a brand is and its importance to the growth of your business. For those of you that haven’t had a chance read it here.  What we learned was that a brand is formed of a collection of associations in the mind of your customer. The next logical question is…how do you go about forging and reinforcing those associations?

In this article we will talk about the ways that you can influence those associations to build a trusted and respected brand with a loyal following. First it is worth considering the brand bank account that Huib Van Bockel explains succinctly in ‘The Social Brand’.

The Brand Bank Account

The brand bank account is a simple way of looking at what you are giving to your customer and what you are 'taking' from them.

Overall you are looking to give more than you take to build a trusted and loyal following of clients or customers.

Deposits or what you are giving to your customer include: 

  • Your product or service
  • Valuable content & social content
  • Truly great customer service

Withdrawals are what you take from your customer such as:

  • The cost of your product
  • Frustrations with your product or service
  • Interrupting advertising in magazines, on TV or Radio (advertising that you haven’t been given a choice to see)
  • Sponsored social content

A company that takes more than it gives may struggle to create a sustainable brand for the future.

Who is Your Customer?

To get the balance right it is worth considering quite deeply who your customer is, in particular what problems they face and what will make their lives easier.

General information on customers is widely available these days from analytics, habits, how they navigate through your website, which articles get the most likes, retweets etc etc…but is there really any substitute to talking to them face to face?

Getting to know your customer at a human level is also helpful, in particular their fears, needs, beliefs, responsibilities, problems. Where do they congregate? What do they read? What do they watch? How do they relax?

Your customers are people, they have fears, dreams, needs, beliefs, responsibilities, problems…what are they? Where do they congregate? What do they read? What do they watch? How do they relax?

Active Content

Content becomes truly engaging and a step up when it is linked to beliefs, problems and responsibilies etc we discuss above , when it inspires action, when it shows what can be done, or shows the customer how something you have done has made their lives better.

Active Content is 'active' in two ways

1.       It communicates actions you have taken that are beneficial to the intended audience, discerned through listening to them

2.      It inspires positive action from your audience

It goes without saying that really powerful active content stems from your brand therefore if your brand is well constructed it will be relevant to your audience.

A great example of Active Content is Groove’s Blog: that transparently talks about the learnings this Start Up collect on their journey. It helps its audience learn and then reform actions based on the understandings gained, all for free. It is relevant to the brand, to the audience and it is positively affecting the behaviour of other start ups.

Communications Channels

There are many communication channels that your customer might use – but now that you really understand them you will know which ones are most suited for them. Just be sure to understand which ones are a deposit and not a withdrawal for them…

To recap

  • Know your customer as a human not just as a bunch of data on a spreadsheet
  • Create active relevant content. Listen, Do, then Talk
  • Choose channels and content that deposits rather than withdraws

Final Thought:

 Is your brand in the red or the black?

For more information on the idea of a brand bank account check out Huib Van Bockel’s (ex Marketing Director of Red Bull UK) book: The Social Brand:

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