Why branding is the key to building lasting client relationships
If there’s one thing your business can’t exist without, it’s clients. No clients, no business. This is why forming and maintaining strong client relationships is vital to the growth of your business. The way you create your brand is a big part of how you do this.
Branding is all about building relationships. That really is it’s main function. Here is a truly great definition of branding by author/genius Seth Godin:
A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one service over another.
I love this definition because it describes real human connections, rather than something that has been artificially constructed. Expectations, memories, stories and relationships all come together to create an experience for your audience that they can resonate with on a human level.
Everything you do, in terms of your branding, is to strengthen the connection between your business and its audience. Whether its defining your core values, or designing a memorable logo, or refining your website, everything comes back to the question of, “How can I improve the experience of my audience so I can serve them better?”.
Check out these wide words from Chris Ducker: It’s about the p to p - the person to person relationships.
I love this statement because it humanizes the experience of doing business. We’re people helping to solve the problems of other people.
We all have our own unique experience of life, and of our work. You have a perspective, personality and past, and a combination of those things that are completely unique to you. That’s what makes humans amazing and sharing our stories and unique perspectives help us connect on a deeper level.
So where do we begin?
IT STARTS WITH UNDERSTANDING YOUR TARGET MARKET
The first step to creating your brand is to understand exactly who you want to serve. That itself is critical to the ability of your business to build long-lasting client relationships.
The more you know about your audience, the better value you can give them, and a relationship can only work if both sides are providing value. “Understanding your target audience in business is like using flour to bake a cake. It’s kinda important.” — RUTHANN
Ask yourself questions like:
What does my target market value most?
What do they want to achieve?
What’s stopping them from achieving that?
What concerns do they have about getting help?
Knowing the answers to these types of questions will help you to develop a brand and business that your target market will find genuinely engaging.
WHEN YOU’RE A BRAND, RATHER THAN A COMMODITY, YOU’RE IRREPLACEABLE
Many business owners make the mistake of believing their brand is all about their services or products. With more and more people launching their businesses and vying for our attention it can feel overwhelming and sometimes disheartening when you know you have so much to offer.
But here’s the thing - Your brand is no longer about the services or the products that you offer. It’s about the ‘why’ behind what you are doing in the first place. Fact is, no matter what you do, you’re probably not the first and only one of its kind. Even in the event that you have come up with a genuinely new and unique offer, if it has any level of success, you can be sure it won’t be the only one of its kind for long. Your brand is about people. The people who are creating the business (you plus your team, if you have one) AND the people who buy your service or produce, and this is something your competitors can’t simply copy. They might have the same services, but they can’t have the unique insight and personal touch that you bring to your business.
That’s what you have to focus on when building your brand. The values that are important to you and the people you serve. This is the personality and the voice you give your brand.
These are the things that are the basis that you build all your client relationships from. Your clients might be able to get the same services as you from someone else — but they can’t get the same relationship. And if they like the relationship they have with you, then they won’t look elsewhere. Your business becomes irreplaceable. Here’s another great quote from Seth Godin: People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.
JUST LIKE RELATIONSHIPS, BRANDING IS BASED ON EMOTION
The way people feel about your business — that is your brand. It’s a perception. Thoughts and feelings. It’s very much based on emotion.
When you understand that, it’s clear that the relationship you’re able to develop with clients is going to be heavily influenced by the brand you build.
Consider things like:
The experience a client goes through during the process of working with you.
The values you stand for.
The language you use in your copy.
The aesthetics and tone you deliver through your graphics.
All these things (and more) blend together and will prompt particular feelings from your clients.
Questions of if they enjoy working with you, want to continue working with you, or would recommend you to friends, all comes back to how they feel about your brand. In this way, your brand is directing the relationship you have with your clients.
BUILDING A BRAND IS A COLLABORATIVE ACTIVITY
Here’s an important note: you don’t get to say what your brand is. “Branding is so much more than what people see. It’s about how you make people feel” – Kimberly Haydn You can’t control what people think of your business, and what people think of your business is your brand. What that means is, you can’t control what your brand is.
What you can do is choose the image you want to portray — through your visuals and words you use — but ultimately, your brand is going to be what they say it is.
My advice about this? Embrace it! Recognise that building your brand is collaborative. You get to work with your clients and decide how best to move forward.
And guess what?
When you do this, your chances of success are vastly improved. Listen to what your clients say, and act on it. Grow your brand in a way that serves both sides of the relationship, and the relationship is strengthened.
In conclusion, branding is always a long-term strategy that is based on building trust. It’s all about the relationship you’re creating with your audience and clients. What it boils down to is being generous with value — before even asking for something in return. No one wants to be in a one-sided relationship. Your clients want to know how they will benefit from engaging with your brand.
So, show them!
Create content based on what you know they need. Your audience will recognise you as someone who can help because you have helped. And when they have the opportunity to give back, they will respond.