Tag Archives: OC&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


Making Customers Feel Special

human idea

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

Make your customer feel part of a club.

If you were ever an employee in a large company in the 1990s, you most likely will remember the framed posters around the workplace, reminding us that ‘The Customer is King’. Personally, I’ll never forget reading Fergal Quinn’s 1990 training book, Crowning the Customer. It was like a beam of light breaking through the darkness. For the first time, I was reading about focusing on the customer as the cornerstone of being successful in business. It was explained quite simply as, getting customers and keeping them by looking after them.

At that time, I was working in the marketing communication area of a large company, and I thought that at long last, a business practitioner was talking sense because they had put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Frustratingly, for me, all the usual challenges and cultures that are embedded in the functioning of a large organisation meant that it was hard for our team to convince other departments that focus on the customer’s needs, was all that mattered. However, that’s not the subject of this post. What I want to talk about here is that having left my employment, mentioned above, and set up O’C&K with a business colleague approximately 10 months ago, the importance of a total customer focus, has once again, come beaming through.

70% of customers return because of the way you make them feel.

Needless to say, when you set-up a business, you don’t have a marketing budget per se so you must really focus on meeting customer’s expectations, if you are to survive. Instead of formal marketing therefore, you rely a lot on word-of-mouth, which is based on how the customer feels about what you have delivered. If they don’t feel good, at a minimum, they’re not going to share their positive experience with their friends etc. And anyway, why would they be bothered telling anyone if you haven’t differentiated yourselves by over delivering and making them feel special. Our experience in O’C&K allows us have a passion for excellent communication and our sharing that passion with Irish SME clients enables them to focus on their customers in a smarter way. We operate our client list like a club.

Either way, whether a big or small business, no matter what books are written, or however smart your customer communication is, what will never change is that 70 percent of people do business with you in the large part because of the way it makes them feel. (Source – McKinsey). I think Gary Vaynerchuk nails it in this excerpt from one of his books;

“People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business … even the best of what formerly passed for good customer service is no longer enough. You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob’s shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren’t your customers, wish they were.”   – Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

I am not proclaiming that OC&K are reinventing the wheel here – but seriously, doesn’t treating your customers like members of a club seem like an obvious and human way to run your business. Most people thrive on belonging to something be it through sports, politics, a cause etc. and it makes sense that they would look for suitable brands even more so in the current changing business environment. This is what we strive to build with our company. We want to establish a community of clients learning how to do business in a smarter way, together. To this end we are basing our approach on three activities;

  •  Making our customers feel part of something special, repeatedly.
  •  Over delivering – for free.
  •  Making them feel important.

Tips and Timesavers.

So, put yourself in the shoes of the customer – what would you expect from a company you want to be proud of or be in a club with? – here are my expectations:

  •  Acknowledge me as a person not a number.
  •  Communicate with me on my channels.
  •  Be transparent about everything.
  •  Stand by your customer communication / your beliefs.
  •  Thank me every now and then.

To summarise – we know that people don’t want to be sold to anymore, and we are certainly aware that customers won’t put up with bad products or services any longer. In addition, there are many ways that customers (and prospects) can avoid listening to marketing communication. Plus, more than likely they have already researched products / services online and with friends before approaching a vendor, at all. So if OC&K are to remain relevant, useful and interesting in this complex world, we believe that forming a ‘club’ of clients that can grow their business together will go a long way to ensuring that positive recommendations are being shared with prospects. We’d love you to join our club.

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