Tag Archives: experience

Love, what’s that got to do with your brand?

brand love O'C&K

8 ways that might help people to love your brand a little more.

 We have written about business and marketing plans here before but now let’s get a little romantic, and talk about how much brand love you can attract, if any, from your customers and prospects. Perhaps, instead of spending your time sweating about operational plans for your fantastic service, it would be time well spent thinking how sustainable is the love for your brand.

We presume your mission is to have people engage with your brand (buying your stuff) – right? Well then, working out a way to get them to love you, long time, will lay the foundation for a good business strategy.

Of course, along the way, people are going to see your brand from different viewpoints, but that’s fine. Your focus should be on getting the right people to want to engage. Think about it this way – it would be a bad state of affairs if people weren’t aware of your service, (product), but wouldn’t it be even worse, if they were and didn’t care about it, at all? If you are in a competitive environment you may survive by being liked, but to grow, your brand has to be loved.

In a service based, small business your brand is yourself.

So here’s the point, nobody can ‘love’ a letterhead, a business card, a brochure or a website because these are just elements of branding. No one is going to love your premises or your background operations. They are going to love how you make them feel.

Your brand must go deeper than visual extensions, and it can because your brand is a personal promise to people. This promise can set you apart because you are promising value, and you have everything to lose because it’s your reputation that you are putting on the line.

In any business, is it not the founder’s unique qualities, their vision and mission and their values that manifests in a brand? Yes, it is, but the main difference between one competitor (brand) and the next is how the above is communicated through all interactions with people.

Why many start-ups fail is that they try to copy what other businesses in the industry are doing. The downside of this is that they are not unique or authentic, which are the very things that customers are looking for. Our advice – just be yourself because that’s what people will love about you and what you provide.

If you have a clear notion of what your brand stands for you can build on being perceived as a specialist and a credible resource in your industry. Of course the people, you want to have credibility with are those in your target market. The more you are the go-to brand, the more people will notice you, engage with you and eventually (hopefully), love you more than your competitors.

When determining your brand, therefore, the first step would be to define your unique qualities e.g. what do people like about you? The next step would be to clarify your strengths e.g. think about past successes, what talents / strengths did you use to achieve them? The last step is to nail down what exactly is your promise e.g. what are you committed to delivering to people on a consistent basis and what would they say if asked about you?

If you go through these three steps, we believe that you will be in a position to ‘live’ your brand and thereby develop its story. People love good stories. If you have your story, you can determine your brand messaging and then you can incorporate these into some of the branding elements referred to above.

Tips and Timesavers.

As alluded to above, brands can achieve sustainability through a consistent delivery of their promise. However, when businesses plan their messaging on an annual basis it’s hard for people to really connect with what the brand is all about, never mind loving it. A brand that changes its messaging every year will result in people perhaps liking their product / service, but not loving the brand.

Here are 8 ways that might help people to love your brand a little more.

  1. Build your brand on an idea that can create a bond with people.
  2. Everything you do should be customer focused, without exception.
  3. Connect with people, based on their insights.
  4. Don’t just solve a basic problem, connect in an emotional way.
  5. Show people that you are passionate about your own brand.
  6. Be unique in what you do and how you do it.
  7. Focus your efforts on areas where you can win (quality, cost, experience, different).
  8. Over-deliver on your promise.


It’s really important to be consistent in everything you do and everything you say if you want to manage the reputation of your brand, properly. It is also extremely important to remain on-message in whatever communication channels you use (online and offline). You must remain focused and true to your promise.

Do not be distracted by all the ‘shiny new tools’ that are available, nowadays. People will love you because of your heart, not your head. Pick a method of communication that suits your strengths, your brand’s style and engages at every brand touchpoint with your customers.

And hey! There’s no rush, it can take years to develop a strong brand.

Real love for a brand

 “We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like to be notified by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Brand Personality, what people really think about you.

Brand Personality

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

6 feelings that you want your customer to have about your brand.

This is probably going to sound a bit ‘nerdy’ to you, but I’ve just finished watching the Breaking Bad box set on Netflix. What’s nerdy about that, you ask? Well, I know that I’m a few years behind everybody else in watching this show but for me, the character of Walter White knew a lot about the three building blocks of a brand. He appeared to understand that it must mean something, be relevant to somebody and known by people.

Think about it – his brand, per se, was built on the product’s high quality (meaning). This is why his product (crystal meth) was more sought after than his competitors. Secondly, he used a visual hook. Because of his ‘cooking’ process, the end product had a blue tinge to it. It became known thereafter as ‘blue’, which built a brand image for his customers (relevancy).

I want to avoid spoilers here, but Walter’s constant challenge was to get a reliable distribution network for his product (known) and it could be argued that his personality traits, impeded his efforts. Both of these made me think of brand communication, in that, what’s the point in having a brilliant product if nobody knows about it or you allow your personality to get in the way of its awareness?

So, that is how Walter White influenced the writing of this article. In this post I want to elaborate on a business being real and how brand perception can reflect that.

Discovery sessions and branding.

Some of the word-of-mouth leads we get in O’C&K, enquire about a logo review or a sales campaign. This is a good sign, in that the prospect has noticed that there is some issue they want to solve. Sometimes though, we have to convince them that a traditional marketing campaign is not always the only, or best solution.

The truth is usually, that they simply haven’t had the time to sit down and think about how their marketplace is changing. The day to day operation of the business and keeping its head above water is challenging enough, in this day and age. Accordingly, during our initial meeting we end up discussing the current and future strengths of their business, their customers and how they engage with them.

We call this our discovery session. In other words we talk to them about being smarter about their marketing activity, based on an underlying business objective. Being smarter can apply to businesses that already undertake marketing activity and need support or those that need to outsource. Either way our focus is on helping them to achieve their business objectives by communicating in a more engaging way.

Looking at the big picture, such as the brand’s personality, is always a good place to start because how your business engages with your customers and how they react, will be the driver of your business growth. We find that there are four useful headings under which to review your brand personality, they are; Brand Positioning, Digital Visibility, Customer Engagement and Networking. For the purpose of this post, I will concentrate on the branding element.

As referred to earlier in this post, there are three critical elements of any brand that must be understood by the owner. The first one is to determine why the business exists in the first place. What meaning is it going to bring to somebody’s life?

The second is relevancy. Let’s face it, you cannot determine if you are relevant, if you don’t know who your audience is. If the audience has been clearly defined, then ask yourself – do you know who the loyal ones are? How many have moved to the competition? Is anybody recommending you, offline? Do you use social media as a listening post for determining this loyalty factor?

The third important measure of the brand (as pursued by Walter White above) is awareness and recognition. Are people aware of the brand’s vision or mission. Research, be it ‘top-of-mind’ awareness (no prompt), ‘considered’ awareness (choices) or ‘prompted awareness, will offer feedback on where the brand ranks apropos competitors.

Your real brand.

In O’C&K, we believe that one of the biggest changes in recent years is the drop in brand loyalty, generally. In my parent’s day, one always bought a ‘Hoover’ rather than a vacuum cleaner or a ‘Crombie’ rather than a coat. Quality was presumed as the marketing message was trusted. Millions of euros (or pounds in those days) were spent ramping up awareness (and loyalty), irrespective of the quality of the product.

Nowadays, however, perceived quality has to fight hard against financial value and function. People are looking for authenticity and reassurance in brands. There is much more cynicism towards businesses, marketing and messaging. In these recessionary times it has been suggested that function is the new emotion and for marketers, this relates to brand personality. As a result, brands are being forced to get real again.

To differentiate themselves (and survive), businesses will have to start showing a personality. Preferably one that is real and personable. This will not be achieved as the result of smarter communication only, you must also offer people something that’s important to making their lives better. Not only might this facilitate charging a premium price but it also might retain and attract customers.

In order to project your personality professionally, you should have a customer engagement strategy. This would be a focus and guideline for everything you say and do. Elements such as colours, logos, advertisements, and your online activity are all just a reinforcement of your brand values, your brand promise, your personality and why you exist. A good customer engagement strategy will assist with the perception of your brand being authentic and transparent.

How you engage with people, is your real brand.

Tips and Timesavers.

We’ve written many posts on this blog, probably reminding readers of what they already know – that most purchase decisions are based on emotion. In our opinion, businesses that place value ahead of price considerations are going to be better placed to succeed into the future.

In this context, brand perception really matters. What you do to create and position your brand among your customers, will be determine the sustainability of your organisation. Here are some points to bear in mind when considering what you want people to feel when they encounter your brand.

  • That you are authentic – the experience of your customer should be consistent across all platforms.
  • They feel part of a community – their family and friends think of your brand in the same way.
  • They can rely on you – you deliver on your brand promise.
  • They can connect with you – you are available when they need you and your staff live the brand values.
  • They are the ‘hero’ of your story – you can empathise with them and contribute to their community.
  • They can trust you – you are honest with them, if something goes wrong.

I suppose what you could say about the above list of ‘feelings’ is that people just want your business to be real.

On occasions I’m asked to give a presentation on sponsorship (see our previous post on sponsorship) – when I do, the topic revolves around all parties to the sponsorship agreement being real. Sponsors have to be real about their engagement with customers / fans, the organisers have to be real about delivering for the sponsor and the ‘fans’ have to be real and appreciate that the sponsor is adding value (only when they are, of course).

To carry this thinking through to businesses showing a real personality, sometimes we can be too hung up on being perfect.  Hotels obsessing about room décor, fast-food restaurants relying on optimal colours, logo usage guidelines, banks anguishing over customer flows and ‘hotpoints’ in branches and even vineyards (wine-makers) attempting to create the perfect taste (ughhhhh). Sometimes it’s good just to be yourself.

Times are changing. Reality TV might be a misnomer but still, producers can no longer determine where and how you watch programmes. Shops without stock photo ads on the walls are perceived as more genuine -disposable fashion, anyone?  There seems to be a trending back towards traditional retail values – the personal touch. People are just fed up at being a number and a wallet.

Every business should review its brand positioning, on an ongoing basis, to ensure they are still ‘in touch’ with their customers. Yes, they should adhere to branding guidelines, but they shouldn’t lose sight of what the customer actually wants – a great experience. Sometimes, all people want is for you (your business) to be yourself and have a real personality.

I want to finish by referring to The Brand Desire 2013 report by the U.K. agency, Clear. In it they suggest that a brand’s desirability comprises a ‘unique balance of energy, substance and connection, qualities that have a profound effect on the brand makes the consumer think, feel and act”. They hold that the brand should energise the organisation towards success (being real). The tangible proof of that energy is ‘substance’ (customer relevancy) and the result is that people will want to ‘connect’ with the brand as they would a friend.

“Any brand can be successful if they think about the world in terms of the three principles of energy, substance and connection. Brand Desire is about having an offer that continuously makes a difference to people’s lives.” …. Peter Askew, director of strategy at Clear.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Ways to build a desirable brand

Your brand name in lights

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

A desirable brand emanates from a customer’s positive experience.

There is plenty of evidence out there to prove that when brands are managed pro-actively, they can become valuable assets for a business. What I want to chat about in this post is how you might arrange the building blocks of a desirable brand so that it appeals to potential customers. Let’s face it, people tend to pander to their desires. It must follow therefore, that they ‘desire’ particular brands or else they wouldn’t remain as customers or offer repeat custom. So, if  their positive experience of your brand is making them think, feel or act differently, then you have found the holy grail of business – a loyal customer ready to become an ambassador for your brand.

Many company owners will admit that growing their business, on a day to day basis, is a challenge that requires their ongoing attention. That, in itself is fine but in this unprecedented era of customer power, it is far easier for customers / prospects to ignore you, than ever before. As a result, owners are being forced to change from being focused on their business to being focused on their customers. This might not be an easy transition for most but, if they’re not being smarter about marketing, they might well end up having a great business which no one knows nor cares about.

Balancing the energy required to make a brand customer- focused and to make the business profitable is not easy for a business owner. One option is to outsource if you don’t have the in-house experience. Whether you decide to outsource some of ‘the energy required’ to professionals or decide to do it alone, in this post I want to outline an audit process to help you. Based on our own set-up experience in O’C&K, I believe that there are 4 basic areas you should consider initially; –  yourself, your audience, your competitors and your desirable brand experience.

Knowing Yourself

Whether you are an existing business or in a set-up situation, something must have spurred you into action originally. It may well be an incident in a previous employment, a monetary need or a passion that you have always wanted to explore. You might simply be basing your business idea on particular strengths that you have amassed or inherited. Whatever the motivation, try and visualise how it might be infused into your brand. When attempting this, one thing to be conscious of is the personality trait that your business ‘idea’ will require – if you don’t match personally, join with somebody that does. If you’re lucky, your personal story can be brought to the brand, to make it more human and interesting. A ‘beating the odds’ story, your training, your experience, specific talents, your personal background are all good places to start. Ask yourself, does your experience ‘fit’ with the brand you can visualise.

For instance, between Aidan and myself (O’C&K), we have at least 50 years practical experience in the communication business. Aidan specialises in creative concepts and marketing management and I my background is in creating and implementing sponsorship and corporate giving programmes. It is these specialities that we are building the O’Connor & Kelly business around. Initially, when discussing our projected brand personality we had to determine what makes us unique, what our core beliefs that will make our brand desirable, our commitment, whether we could incorporate our hobbies and what emotions people attach to us, individually. It was only after this ‘soul searching’ that we could agree on the actual service we could offer, the goals and the message.

Knowing your Audience

Here is a list of characteristics that you might use to build a profile of your audience. Gender, age, generational values, income levels, where they live, marital status, children and their interests. If they are online, any blogs they read, websites they visit, TV shows they stream and social media activity. It would be great if you could determine career / education levels. Only face to face contact may be able to determine the following, but it can be researched if they are active online – know their frustrations, their hopes, why they might need your service, where they ‘shop’ and is there anything that you have in common with them already.

Knowing your Competition

There will always be someone in your niche that offers the same service or something similar to you. All you have to do is know who they are. When you do – then just apply the same questions to them as you did to yourself (see above), to determine how much of a competitor they really are. For example, how do they describe their offering, is it the same in price and quality? Are they better at something, are they chasing the same audience, is their identity professional and are they online? What is their marketing activity like, their tone, their colours and their style? Are you hearing anything about them from your audience, are they catering already for the same need that you have identified and in your opinion, are they a desirable brand?

Knowing your brand experience

I have said in many posts to this blog previously that branding is way more than a nicely designed business identity. In our most recent post, here, it was emphasised that it is the participant’s experience before, during and after an event that drives return business. Similarly, it is the experience that your audience encounters which creates the ‘desirability’ of your brand. You must build the goodwill if you want WOM promotion by your customers.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here is a sample checklist of some elements that may form part of your planned brand experience:

  • being accessible – opening hours include being online.
  • keeping your word – doing what it ‘says on the tin’.
  • making them feel special – delivering more than they expect.
  • helping people – being informative and a good citizen.
  • being honest and gracious – seeking feedback and acting on it if appropriate.
  • having fun – looking after the customers that ‘look after you’.
  • being accommodating – being consistent and reassuring

Only when you have decided on your values etc. and what your customer is going to experience, should you embark upon creating a business identity and how it will be used. More than likely you will employ an outside agent (you should) to do this, and O’C&K are very well equipped to help you with this should you so decide. Basic elements would include a logo, an ID package (design style, colours etc.) and a web presence. Please resist the urge to go overboard with the design element and bear in mind that you will probably be adapting to your audience as your business grows.

Two final things, 1) give your brand a face and preferably one that is recognisable, be that yourself, an employee or a mascot and 2) infuse everything you’ve decided upon under ‘knowing yourself’ above, into your brand. We have a guide, here, on our website that might be useful to you when planning a marketing strategy.

When all is said and done, a business that delivers a community- like understanding that, ‘we are all in it together’, will be seen as an authentic and desirable brand to do business with.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K