Using Customer Insights To Build Your Brand (Guide)

Good branding is inspired by your customers. Consumer Insight is most effective in the discovery phase and brand development stages which goes a long way to shape your business strategy. Branding doesn’t come from your company or from an agency you hire. Your brand depends on your customer’s needs and desires and is influenced by their perception of you. 

Which means branding is not an inside-out activity; it’s an outside-in activity. Your brand is defined by those who experience it; customers and employees. So making sure people throughout the business can easily define their role in the customer’s journey, and how they need to align themselves with the brand, is a fundamental stepping stone.

What Is The Stepping-stone To A Successful Brand Alignment?
  • Collecting the data and insights from your customers is the first step.
  • Understanding and anticipating this information is the next.
The third is using all of this to build a strong foundation from which you can develop and deliver a seamless customer experience.

This is also known as establishing your brand basics. They include, what a customer expects you to deliver, but done in a unique and on-brand way. If a business doesn’t deliver the basics well, it makes no difference what CX transformation is put in place – it simply won’t work. Irresistible customer experiences are about consistency. 
Consistency across every platform; every touch point; every interaction. This is a fundamental aspect of building a brand; establishing a level of trust.

Brand basics are the stepping stones to those sought after ‘wow’ moments; brand amplifying moments that delight customers in a differentiated way. As soon as your brand has determined the crux of what your customers want, and created a way to deliver this to them – and well – you can then focus on introducing brand amplifiers to your customer experience.

But if a business can’t get their brand basics right what chance do they have of amplifying their brand? In this new era of branding, where customers are very much in control, brands need to make a change. They need to abandon their siloed approach, and instead opt for a holistic method…

  • Collect and interpret data and insights from real customers;
  • Blend the digital and physical worlds to develop and deliver a seamless and irresistible customer experience;
  • Look at viewpoints from inside and outside your business; customers and employees;
  • Incorporate several different platforms and touch points into your customer experience strategy;
  • Focus on delivering your brand basics before designing those wow moments.

Renewing your brand strategy and re-aligning your customer experience isn’t going to happen over night. But if you can figure out how to integrate this advice, your business will have a good chance of making a mark on its industry.

Why Work On Customer Insight?

Growth Strategy Customer Insights: Organizations who know their customers are better placed to be able to meet their needs. This leads to more satisfied customers and lower costs to meet those needs (including ‘getting it right first time’). Entrepreneurs in early stage start-ups and companies without market research budgets should take full advantage of customer insights. 

On the opposite end of the cost spectrum is formal market research, such as depth interviews, ethnographies, focus groups, and surveys. Professional focus groups can yield a tremendous amount of data, but can be costly. Smart companies don’t just inquire about their own customers’ needs; they ask competitors’ customers too. Customers must always be a central part of the equation when you’re doing brand strategy.

To do branding in a vacuum without putting the customer point of view front and center is a massive mistake. In building a strong brand that connects deeply with customers, you must understand customer needs as well as the trends, forces, and brands that compete for their attention.

The goal is not only to safeguard against what other brands are doing but also to gain insight into your company’s unique role in the marketplace. What strategies do you use to make your brand uniquely relevant to your ideal customers?

Brands need to be informed by their customers. Businesses must understand why customers behave like they do – both online and off. This is core to your customer experience upgrade. Customers know what they want, where they want it, and how they want to receive it. And it is up to the brand to make sure everyone within the company knows this information too.

There is no excuse for brands not to be in tune with the wants and needs of their customers. In others words, real branding boils down to getting inside your customers’ heads.
  • What do your customers think?
  • How do they behave?
  • What do they need?
  • Where do they go to get it?
  • Where do they shop?
  • How much are they going to spend?
  • What’s important to them?
  • How does it make them feel?

And how does your brand help them further their personal goals? The key here is to make sure you’re getting honest feedback. Friends and family will usually try to tell you they love your product, even if they don’t. So, offer them booze in exchange for brutal, unvarnished honesty. But you also need to remember to protect your brand proposition. Your vision and purpose need to be at the heart of everything you and your people do.

Don’t know what your customers think? Ask Them.

Most companies don’t have a six-figure budget for market research. So how do you learn about your customers? You learn who your customers are by actually finding and having a conversation with them. Those conversations can take place through informal market research, such as chatting with customers.

Even a company with four employees which makes $250,000 a year has enough customers to conduct meaningful research. There are many different ways to talk to your customers. On the super-low-budget end of the spectrum, you can just hang around in a popular public places and ask people to try your product or service and then ask them for their opinions.

Be sure to ask open-ended questions, such as “What do you like about this brand?” Or, “How do you see this fitting into your life?” Or, “What would you change about this?” Actually talking to customers face-to-face is one of the most valuable things you can do to better understand your brand.

Another effective way to interact with customers is by fielding customer service calls or inbound sales calls. Even at the CEO level, if you take customer service calls for a few hours every month, it might just be the most valuable time you ever spend. The callers won’t have any idea you’re the CEO, so they won’t sugarcoat how they feel about your brand. And you can ask them almost anything you want and expect an honest answer.

Establishing a reputable brand is closely linked to creating an emotional connection with your audience and your customers – this is called developing an emotional brand. And this is done best when you include an emotional journey in every aspect of your brand’s development, from artwork and logos to slogans, to advertising forums and social media engagement.

Why Is Audience Insight Important To Branding?

Understanding the audience’s emotional motivations for current and intended behavior is an important element of branded strategies. Understanding an audience’s emotional needs is often what enables program designers to create an emotional ‘hook’—something that catches and holds onto the consumer—that is typically communicated through a brand.

The commercial sector has recognized building emotional connections between consumers and brands as critical to distinguishing successful brands from their competition. Some of the most globally recognizable and successful brands have been informed by key audience insights.

Brands have based their success on the strong emotional bonds built with consumers after gaining the right audience insights. Insights also can help you to build branded strategies that promise how the branded product, service or behavior will meet the needs of the intended audience in ways that others do not.

At more than one century old and as one of the most recognizable brands in the world, Coca-Cola is an expert on audience insight. While ‘happiness’ and ‘sharing’ have always been staples of their brand image, Coca-Cola recently used new audience insight to put a twist on these brand image staples. Coca-Cola ran its “Share a Coke” campaign in more than 50 countries. 

Each country’s bottles and cans were customized to the country’s local culture and language, with the most popular names in each region printed in place of the company’s moniker. Coca-Cola set out to use the “Share a Coke’ campaign as a way to connect and engage with teens. Its research showed that while teens loved that Coke was big and iconic, many felt the company was not talking to them at their level. 

They wanted to feel a personal connection with the brand. The insight worked and Coca-Cola achieved an increase in soft drink sales thus increasing consumption servings per day during the campaign period. Emotional branding doesn’t happen by accident. It needs to be a strategic part of your marketing plan – and it needs to be factored in. 

When developing your own emotional intelligence, it can help you understand how your customers might be feeling, and be able to empathize and engage with them more successfully. Emotions work across both C2C and B2B sectors – in both, generating a direct emotional attachment can help build profitability and differentiate you from your competitors. 

Emotions matter more than ever in branding today. Involving customers in emotional branding can help demonstrate that you care about customers, and that you understand how they feel and what they believe in.

Branding isn’t something that should happen at the end of a development cycle to promote a product or service. It should happen at every stage of the consumer cycle and relate to every aspect of your business strategy – from traditional advertising and marketing to your customer service initiatives and the way your staff engage with your customers.

Developing An Emotional Branding Strategy

Emotional branding doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be a part of your strategic marketing plan. Anything that affects your customers or your business can have an impact on your brand. As a result, business strategies need to be devised so that you can develop emotional branding that’s suited to your business and your customers.

It should be geared towards developing a user experience that both feeds emotions and feeds off emotions. In their commercial shown during the 2017 Superbowl, Google used the emotional attachment of ‘home’ to highlight how the company played a key role in the everyday lives of its users.

Like these companies,your emotional branding should appeal to every aspect of your customers’ lives: their ego, needs and aspirations, their general emotional state. You need to develop business strategies that connect in these ways to your potential customers, be it through music, words, lifestyle, sport or another genre that really ‘speaks’ to your customers.

First, though, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Local radio ads or viral campaigns can be just as successful as campaigns that have multi-million dollar budgets to hire Hollywood directors. It just depends on what your goal is, how memorable you want your brand to be and what emotions you choose to feed off.

What Are The Stages Of Emotional Branding?

Encourage Purchases: How do you engage with a potential customer and encourage them to think about spending their money with you? How do you move from capturing their attention to ensuring they move forward with a purchasing decision? Much of this has to do with understanding the emotions that drive their everyday decisions. 

This is particularly important in the in-store environment. This can influence intention to engage with your product or service, and to either buy in the moment or return to buy at a later date. A good example is IKEA, which has had considerable success in changing the emotional experience – and increasing sales – by simply altering a store’s layout.

Develop A Relationship: This stage is about reassuring your customer that they made the ‘right’ decision when they spent their money with you.

Develop Customer Loyalty: Turning a one-off purchase into a regular purchase helps build brand loyalty and increases the lifetime value of that customer to your business. This stage is about adding customer incentives or loyalty offers, and up-selling/cross-selling your products to existing customers.

Make your brand part of your customer’s life. You are looking to develop a deep and long-lasting engagement with your customer. Once you have done this you can benefit from word of mouth business that comes from loyal customers who provide free advertising and referrals for you.

However, without good memories of an experience, no one will remember you or recommend it. All the ads in the world will not change this. Apple is a good example. It has built its reputation on positive customer experiences. Any products or customer experiences that fall short of expectations risk negative word of mouth feedback.

Apple has used emotional branding successfully throughout its history to set it apart from its competitors. This early 1990 campaign played on the brand’s ‘Think different’ campaign, using famous and well-loved personalities from scene, sport, and politics to drive home its message.

Mercedes is another company that uses emotions to feed everyday stories that convince customers of the reliability of its cars. These ads are a complete packages: stories, words, pictures and music that combine to draw the customer into the story and make them feel part of the Mercedes experience. Once again, Apple, and Mercedes don’t just provide inspiration and build the expectations of their customers, they also have solid products that deliver for their customer base and meet these expectations.

How To Meet Growing Consumer Expectations

Insights don’t always come together quickly or easily when developing ideas and concepts. Mostly, it takes a lot of time and effort to get them articulated just right. They must be compelling, without being preachy. They must be truthful, without being too obvious. They must be empathetic, without being presumptuous.  It is therefore key to recognize what a real insight is, and what isn’t. An insight consists of the 3W’s:

  1. What is the customer doing?
  2. Why are they doing it?
  3. Wow - Nobody has ever noticed or talked at such detail about that problem before!

When looking for Insights it’s vital to focus your activity, narrow your research to a specific target and key gap’s in your knowledge. At the HEART of every Insight needs to be a true dilemma as without a problem no one needs your solution. As an Insight can be true but generic and non-competitive – make sure it’s a new problem or an existing problem described in a new way.

As a brand, you don’t promise and then deliver. In reality, you have to deliver first, and that becomes the promise. 

‘Branding’ in business is about more than a logo. It’s a promise to your customers. Your brand is the symbol of your business. It’s born out of the sum of many parts: it’s what you sell and how well you sell it, it’s how you project your company’s image, it’s your level of customer service, it results from what your customers think of you, and how you interact with them in return.

Audience insight is a component of the audience analysis and should be done at the same time. Start the audience analysis and audience insight process immediately following the situation analysis, after all of the key facts have been identified for the overall health or social problem. Audience insight development also can take place when a decision is made to develop a brand strategy.

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