Modern marketing has lost its way. In recent years, the spotlight has focused on which new tools and technologies will yield business success. Executives are scrambling to find the latest automation software that will solve all their problems and deliver sales. Michael Karg, CEO of Razorfish, contends that “intelligence, rather than image” will shape the future of marketing.
We would argue that the collection of data and technology makes a business more efficient, but doesn’t necessarily make the brand more likable to consumers and prospective clients. Data gathering is a tactic, not a strategy. Strategically, businesses still need to be asking themselves, “How does our image align with our core competencies and values? What do our customers expect to see from us? How can we convey professionalism through design?”
Aesthetic considerations and web copy wording used to be the primary focus, but is now overlooked in pursuit of analytics, tech solutions and automation. Looks are just one of the many facets of modern “branding” solutions. A business’s “appearance” also includes customer service, social media, blogging, web copy and cohesiveness across platforms just as much as design. In today’s post, we make a case for the importance of appearance for brands.
Why Appearance Is Still The Top Consideration For Brands:
1. Branding is about the consumer, not us.
We’ve talked with marketers who find it difficult to convince top executives that a rebranding project is worthwhile. They see the investment in image as an “indulgent and unnecessary” expense. However, as this brilliant video by DB International so aptly points out, branding isn’t about the company. It’s about people. It’s connecting and resonating with our audiences. It’s presenting universal ideas, observations, truths and trends — visually, in ways that other people agree with and understand.
So yes, the future of marketing will always involve the collection of the data to determine customer preferences and beliefs… but the real genius comes in reflecting those interests back to people through imagery, tone, words and design. Branding goes beyond a recitation of benefits to touch the heart and soul of what a consumer wants. Consider how Ben & Jerry’s connects with their audience’s values of sustainability in their imagery and messages.
The best brands are the ones with a clear understanding of what their company stands for and know how to boil down values, core offerings, customer service style and their knowledge of consumer needs into a presentation that is compelling, pleasing to look at, and simple to comprehend in just a few moments — because, online, a few seconds feel like an eternity. If a prospect can’t look at your website and instinctively reach a desired piece of information within the first 10 seconds, they’re gone forever. A good logo and web design quickly essentially says: “I know what you want and why you’re here.”
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2. Aesthetics breathe life into your brand.
Logitech’s first offering was the computer mouse back in 1981. This innovative new product would revolutionize the way people interacted with their personal computers. While the mouse and its many incantations continued to be Logitech’s bread-and-butter for years, they’ve expanded in recent years to offer keyboards, speakers, webcams, headsets, iPad and mobile cases, remotes and game controllers.
Recently, the Swiss firm announced a rebranding effort. On many of their newer products, they’re ditching the “tech” part of their name, running with “Logi” instead. As Venture Beat put it: “Logitech is a respected brand in the computing accessory realm, but it’s hardly a sexy brand.” They explain how hiring former Nokia chief designer Alastair Curtis in 2013 has led to a reinvented image for the company with has reinvented itself with “smarter designs, bold colors, and a more distinctive look-and-feel.”
Company president Bracken Darrell clarified, “We’re putting design at the center of everything we do. Our approach to design goes beyond the classic definition. Design to us is the combination of advanced technology, business strategy, and consumer insights. Our products have come a long way, and now it’s time to bring the brand forward too.” Darrell is one of those progressive-thinking entrepreneurs who really gets it. Design is far from frivolous for brands: it can make or break a company’s long-term success as they transcend the decades. Check out how these 40 brands have reinvented their images to stay fresh over the years. Nowadays, free programs like Canva make the design process easier than ever.
3. Branding evokes emotion, which influences behavior.
“In terms of visual brand elements, color is probably the factor that contributes most to evoking a specific feeling,” reports Branding Magazine. “In fact, research shows that color accounts for 90% of snap judgments, which makes it a critical element of both branding and design. In terms of website experience, the predominant color or color of a product can have an astonishing influence on people’s purchase behavior.”
Kissmetrics research has found color alone increases brand recognition by 80%. A whopping 42% of customers surveyed said they based their opinions of a website on design alone and 52% said they opted not to return because the overall aesthetics did not appeal to them. They also found that buzzwords and convenience also impacted customer experience, in addition to design.
4. A brand’s ‘appearance’ online goes way beyond aesthetics.
Beyond choices in color, web design, font type, text size and imagery, branding also encompasses areas like your brand voice and customer service style reflected in blogs, marketing emails and social media. HubSpot defines it perfectly: “In this digital age, a brand is accepted as a completely immersive experience in the ethos and personality of a company: the way an organization goes about their business, how others perceive them and the way they speak to consumers.”
To earn the respect and trust of its customers, a business needs to convey an image that they are available, responsive and professional. When customers post on social media, they expect a response, but 59% of the complaints on Twitter went without a response, according to this infographic published on BitRebels. Worse yet, many consumers felt their qualms were not answered in a timely fashion and that their problems were not solved.
Mod Girl Marketing works with a number of brands to support their social media monitoring efforts. Through the use of social media monitoring tools, we ensure that our clients know about issues as they arise and are in control of their brand image online. We help our clients identify and respond to complaints as they would on any other channel to create a seamless customer service department.
Cohesive branding makes it easier for customers to recognize their favorite products and remain loyal, whether they are on social media, shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, or perusing Amazon. You want to use consistent colors, logos, imagery and messaging across all platforms online and offline. Match your main website to business cards, social media sites, your blog, marketing materials, event signage, and employee apparel. Cohesive branding doesn’t stop at marketing – keep your brand consistent in all facets of your business, including online invoicing. Companies like Freshbooks allow brands to easily incorporate the company logo on invoices. Cohesive branding shows that your company is stable and trustworthy.
Each branded platform presents another touch point to build upon previous impressions. Physical Therapist Dr. Ben Fung compares it to making an impression on a first date and following it up with subsequent dates. Businesses want each message and presentation to meet and exceed expectations made prior. “If the first impression of the brand appearance is that of cost savings, what it is really communicating to the consumer is that this brand will save you time. Therefore, the experience must be polished, streamlined, and exceptionally efficient. Wait times will betray the brand promise,” Dr. Fung explains. “Similarly, if the first impression from a brand appearance is that of catered customization, a lack of fleshed out options and a poor browsing vehicle will also betray the promise and brand experience itself.” Consumers are drawn to the promise a brand creates; brand loyalty is the end result when customers are rewarded with consistency and their needs being met.
“Brands are always communicating a message — whether it’s Coca-Cola or Joe’s Shoe Store down the street. Branding is about building relationships that the everyday person doesn’t even realize have been made,” says Hongkiat. “Ever get a jingle stuck in your head from some commercial, or unconsciously gravitate toward a particular brand of some item at the store? That’s the power of branding at work.”
The relationship starts the moment a person sees your name, your website, your ad image, your text. It’s reinforced through blogs, email correspondences, social media interactions, offline experiences, and so much more. Business executives often solicit the help of brand consultants like Mod Girl Marketing because it gets downright confusing to sort their way through the matrix and develop a strategy for relationship building across all these different platforms. Our experience can help translate these amorphous ideas into a strategic series of actions designed to build relationships and bring greater sales through the pipeline.
We still rely on content development as the core vehicle for getting business messages out to the masses. Blogging is a great exercise in thought leadership, keeps businesses fresh in the minds of consumers, and remains one of the best ways to develop positive customer relationships. Developing the right voice and tone or deciding what to write about is a big challenge for many marketers, which is where working with an experienced team of branding experts comes in handy as well.
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7. How your business appears online matters in clinching sales.
Ah, the dreaded abandoned shopping cart… one of the great mysteries of life! Many of the reasons for abandoned purchases can be traced back to issues with organization or flawed branding that creates a disjointed customer experience. If people have to jump through hoops to accomplish the simplest of tasks, they’ll soon be ditching their cart in exchange for an easier time. The good news is that nearly two-thirds of lost merchandise transactions are recoverable with a few adjustments. Rackspacerecommends fixing basic user experience errors by:
– Simplifying the checkout process.
– Making it easier to edit items in the shopping cart.
– Providing enough information to make the purchase and inviting users to share.
– Displaying security logos.
– Offering deals and advertising limited quantity to inspire them to buy now.
Modern marketers use automated software to help them follow a customer from prospecting to acquisition to sales. Delivering the right message at the right time can rescue customers who may be on the verge of leaving your brand for someone else and lure them back to you — which saves time and money!
8. In a competitive atmosphere, skill and knowledge are not enough.
Fast Companyexplains that influence is the key to business success these days. Possessing knowledge and skill (and being the best at what you do) is all well and good, but without the influence to make the world take notice of your particular brand, you’ll get nowhere fast. In order to win hearts and minds, your audience must know you, like you and trust you.
They cite a Harvard Business Review piece which explains the best management strategy is a unified approach that finds new opportunities to use expertise, develops tools that spread expertise, uses personal interaction to convince people of relevance, and helps decision makers understand complex content to solve problems.
Mod Girl Marketing is a full-service boutique digital marketing agency that can assist with any of your business branding needs, whether you just need a couple hours of consulting, help choosing the right software and technologies, or development and implementation of a marketing strategy. Contact me for more details