Generating revenue for your business requires more than a good sales team. Your marketing strategy, especially brand awareness, plays a critical role in convincing people to make a purchase.
Negative brand awareness can break customer loyalty
Negative brand awareness tends to push people away, even when they love the product. For example, when rumors surfaced that Nike was using sweatshops to produce their shoes, people all over the world boycotted the brand. Even die-hard Nike fans couldn’t bring themselves to wear shoes allegedly made by people who weren’t being paid a living wage.
Nike denied the allegations and said they didn’t have control over third-party contractors. Although the company quickly implemented a system to audit manufacturing facilities, the damage had been done. To this day, although the brand is highly successful, many people still associate Nike with sweatshops.
Controversy can negatively impact brand perception
True or not, allegations of hiring sweatshop labor is just one controversy Nike has had to battle to keep their brand alive. There are several more. For instance, when Nike began featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in ad campaigns, sales soared despite some boycotts. However, when Kaepernick advised Nike not to sell the Air Max 1 USA shoe featuring a Revolutionary-era U.S. flag, the company pulled the shoe and took another big hit.
The Air Max 1 USA shoes featured the historical “Betsy Ross” flag on the heels—a flag that is occasionally appropriated by extremist groups. However, according to the Anti-Defamation League, it’s not a recognized symbol of hate. Still, Nike pulled the shoe just before the fourth of July, causing more controversy and more boycotts.
Despite all controversy, Nike is worth $138 billion; the company has a strong foundation to fall back on when these controversies arise. You probably don’t have that same cushion, which means you need to be extremely careful about who and what gets associated with your brand.
Positive brand awareness increases customer loyalty
In the food industry, Chick-fil-A is the perfect example of a thriving business with positive brand awareness. Although the company has been subject to controversy, Chick-fil-A makes more money per restaurant than McDonald’s, Subway, and Starbucks combined.
The brand image Chick-fil-A presents is the image of a company that cares about its employees enough to close on Sundays, giving all employees time to go to church, spend time with their family, or just relax.
While their food is delicious, they don’t focus on the food as much as they focus on people. For instance, in 2014, a store in Birmingham, AL cooked up hundreds of sandwiches and passed them out to motorists stranded in a major snow storm—for free.
People associate Chick-fil-A with good deeds and putting people first, and that’s part of what makes them a success. They have great marketing, but they deliver on the promise to treat people well, which generates brand loyalty.
How to build positive brand awareness for your business:
Avoid controversy completely
If your company isn’t huge like Nike and Chick-fil-A, you probably don’t have to worry about the world boycotting you for a controversial move. However, it’s best to avoid being intentionally controversial because if you lose your initial fan base, you’ll never grow.
Making yourself visible in the world is the best way to create positive brand awareness for your company. If you’re relatively unknown, start snagging vendor spots at industry-related trade shows, conventions, festivals, and even small conferences. Get your brand in front of people.
Make your business stand out with a customized booth that represents your brand from top to bottom, including your commitment to customer service. Don’t just print your logo all over your booth. Your booth design should reflect the image you want to portray to the world, not just your company logo or a clever slogan. You want people to experience your brand when they come to your booth as if they were a customer.
The layout of your booth matters as well. Your brand image will be affected by the way traffic can (or can’t) flow through your booth and how easy it is for you to interact with people. For instance, don’t seal yourself off behind a giant table. Instead, position yourself at a podium or small table where you can get up to interact with people at any moment. Attendees will perceive your brand as friendly and available.
Actively work to dispel media myths
If your company becomes the target for accusations that aren’t true, work hard to respectfully dispel the myths perpetuated by the media. Not responding to accusations makes the situation worse and diminishes trust. If the accusations are true, fess up. Acknowledge the situation and remedy the mistake as soon as possible.
Build your brand reputation to increase revenue
Working hard to develop and maintain a positive brand image is hard work, but the result is increased loyalty and more sales. Your company may not be as big as Nike, but that can change if you start building a stronger brand image from the ground up.