Gone forever are the days when doing business meant focusing only on your product, while ill-informed customers had little choice other than to buy it, whether or not they were really satisfied.
The digital age, globalization and many innovations, especially in IT, have resulted in dramatic changes in the way we do business. Today’s consumers have (too) many choices – they are very informed, engaged and connected, and they tend to share their experience with others. With new tools and media, they can do this very effectively – so effectively, in fact, that one negative review, comment or post might be enough to bankrupt your business. They are also more demanding than ever before, even to the point of becoming co-creators of the products and services they buy. Their overall experience, from the first moment they hear about your brand and your promise to them, through the moment they buy it, use it, service it, and even get rid of it (from an ecological perspective) should be satisfying and unique. This means they can identify themselves with your brand, and that the brand has met their initial expectations, which leads to their recommendation, loyalty and repeated purchase.
But, you might ask, do I really have to do all these activities? To inform, work with social media, communicate, collect feedback, and prepare a story?
The answer is yes. You have to do all this to hack your growth and even to survive. With all the changes described above that affect customer behavior, you need to start managing your brand. Today, whatever you do or don’t do leaves an impression and a message to you potential customers – a message about whether you “care” for them and their experience or not, because they want to be engaged, informed, and heard. They want to co-create your brand! For this reason, branding has become dynamic, evolving from initial visual elements and simple advertising to the level of relations that need to be managed. Relations are not static, so whether to brand or not brand is no longer the question. It is not optional. Branding is happening all the time, irrespective of your activities. The only question is whether you will manage this process or not!
Okay, you say, let’s start branding! But how should you do it? Where should you start?
We have developed an easy-to-follow framework, a tool that we have named STARTUP BRANDING FUNNEL, or SBFUNNEL , that will help you to understand, develop, implement and maintain strong brands that deliver a unique customer experience. You will need to start actively managing you brand, from the vision onwards, if you have not started your business yet. The core of your efforts should still be a good product that fits the market, but this is not enough for success. You might help yourself with the lean methodology to develop it, but you need to go further and develop your brand market fit, including a story that will reflect your unique advantages and be evident in your visual elements. Then you need to spread it within the company, communicate it to your customers, and deliver your product to customers. Meanwhile, you need to continuously validate and evaluate the elements with customers’ experiences and feedback. You might use different metrics for this. This is a never-ending story, since you might get new competitors and industry trends and customer preferences may change, which will force you to adapt or even change some elements of your brand. We are sure that using our SBFUNNEL to develop, implement, and maintain your brand will help you to hack your growth. Good luck, and let us know how are you doing!
P.S. Why a FUNNEL?
We have called our framework a “funnel” to remind you that relationships (and brands) mean two sides of the same coin: the narrow customer perspective, which is focused on the unique experience he gets by using your product from the first moment he gets in touch with it, and your broader entrepreneur’s perspective, which includes all the organization'’ activities (e.g., technology, finance, marketing) that customers don’t care about, when they buy, use or recommend your brand.