Category Archives: Brand Marketing


What Makes A Brand?

What a question. It’s a tough one. Funny enough, a lot of us out there are tasked with building a brand, and I would argue that we are spending a lot of our time on the wrong priorities. As a result, brand marketing is getting a bad rap, and we are failing to help our companies stand out in the right ways.

Here at BigDoor, we talk a lot about the importance of building a brand when you are trying to grow customer loyalty, so we thought it would be worth outlining exact what a brand isn’t, what a brand is, and tips to get you there. Let’s jump on in!

A brand isn’t…

All too often, marketers rely on pieces of the brand to “be” the brand. We focus our time on things like the logo, brand colors, byline, etc., when those alone do not make a brand. These features are the tangible execution of a brand. They change over time, and evolve as the brand grows. They may help us represent ourselves in a crowded room, but they are not what differentiates us. not a brand Today more than ever before, we need to pay attention to the many pieces of our brand, but pay the bulk of our attention to the sum of those parts and the underlying foundation to these pieces. So what the heck goes into that foundation? We’ve got ya covered.

A brand is…

Rather than focusing on tangible pieces of a brand, it’s critical to look at and invest in the bigger picture. The “bigger picture” includes your company’s perspective in the market, the philosophy you take towards your product, your tone/voice, your company’s story or history, and your actions. These are really what drives your brand. this is a brandWhen it comes to building a brand, there are some tangible steps you can take to get down to what really matters. It’s all about identifying what your brand is promising, how you communicate that promise to the market, how you deliver on the promise, and how your promise grows over time. Here’s a bit more on these four steps:

1. Take a stand

What is your company passionate about? This passion lies at the heart of your brand. Here at BigDoor, we believe in reciprocal loyalty, which is the belief that companies should be as loyal to customers as they hope customers are loyal to them. Because we’re so passionate about reciprocal loyalty, we put it at the heart of what drives our brand. You’ll see our tangible assets (like our byline, website, etc.) reflect this in the coming weeks, but we plan on having reciprocal loyalty at the core of everything we push out. It’s a promise we are making to the market: that we will help educate brands on this philosophy, but more importantly, that our products will help them do this for their customers.

It’s crucial to take a stand as a company, and it’s a promise or differentiator that is the foundation for everything you do with your brand. Your team, your products, and your assets should all magnetically tie back to this promise.

2. Shout your promise from the rooftops

Once you know what your brand’s promise is, shout it from the rooftops! Take your resources, budget, and channels, and leverage them for brand story sharing. You can’t simply push out a big promise and hope the market shares it around on your behalf.

A great example of spreading a company philosophy and mission is HubSpot’s Culture Code deck. Company culture videos, like this one from Epipheo (a video studio agency out of Portland), spread a message to the masses in a meaningful way. Communicating your promise in a beautiful, effective way is what enables you to begin to build your tribe of brand advocates. Delight them by providing them with content that is shareable and effectively relays your brand’s promise.

3. Don’t just talk; do

After you’ve promised people something, it’s important to deliver on that promise. Your brand is very much dependent on following through, whether it’s shown through great products, great service, great customer communications, or otherwise. You must make sure that brand promise is consistently delivered so it’s believed; only then will it be shared on your behalf. Brand advocates need to know they are sharing a brand that they can trust, and delivery is where that trust is solidified. No great logo or byline can outweigh the importance of doing what your company promised it would do for its users.

4. Revisit and evolve

A great brand evolves with the company. While that foundational core promise will likely always be there in some iteration, great brands can grow as their markets shift. Revisiting how you are promising something to a market and tweaking as needed is a vital part of building a brand.

Nothing is static when it comes to a great brand. For the brand to last decades, it must resonate with new audiences, yet always come back to that “moment of passion” that resonates with the brand’s promise. It’s a fine balance, but when executed well, it’s nearly impossible to disrupt when it comes to building brand loyalty.

Four steps to follow when you get started with building your brand.
Four steps to follow when you get started with building your brand.

These four combined make a brand when done well. While the tangible executions of this brand may change as the market does or the years pass, your “real brand” is rooted in the promise you make and continue to deliver on over time.

Think of your brand as an intangible selling point that exists in people’s hearts. A great gut check to do to test this is asking yourself, “Does my brand hold water if I don’t show the logo, say the byline, or visit the website/store?” If I said to someone, “What is BigDoor to you?” whatever they come back with tells me if we’ve done our job right. That’s when you know you have a brand that can stand on it’s own.

In conclusion

To stand out in the vast sea of competition, our brands need to truly impress. We can’t just be flashy or have a memorable logo; we need to stand for something that drives people to support us. To put it simply: the more successful your brand, the easier it will be to build loyalty around that brand. A successful brand takes a great deal of intention when building, and hopefully this post pointed out some places for you to start when kicking off brand conversations.

I’d love to hear what else you think makes an amazing brand. We have some great posts coming out soon on how to measure the growth of a brand, and a fun post on what our favorites brands are worth (you are going to be floored!) But in the meantime, let’s hear your tips — what have your favorite brands done amazing well when they built their brand? What is a brand to you?

Tactics for Building Loyal Brand Advocates

Last week, I was lucky enough to go to SearchLove down in San Diego and present on how marketers can build brand loyalty and brand advocates. It was a great show, with a ton of great speakers and insights. Below is a quick summary of my presentation, and the full deck for those who want to check it out.

We will be exploring how to build brand loyalty and evangelists in more detail over the coming weeks, but this is a great top-level checklist to help you get started. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Get good at cohort marketing. Today’s marketer needs to understand how to slice and dice their audience and customer segments. I talked through different dimensions to consider, and how sequencing those dimensions to build cohorts can help you more effectively meet the users’ needs.

Specific tactics include ideas like directing users to register for a community and fill out profiles (which BigDoor’s loyalty program can help with), building retargeting audiences, etc. 

Tip #2: Appeal to internal and external motivations. Too often we, as marketers, build branding campaigns, but don’t give enough attention to how we want the customer or user to feel when they digest the campaign. In the slide deck, I stress the importance of appealing to both internal motivations (who does the person aspire to be? how can the campaign help them identify and grow into that aspirational character?) and external motivations (how does the person want to be perceived outwardly? what persona are they playing into when it comes to their social circles?). By identifying the “feeling” you are hoping the campaign delivers, you can better align the campaign with your brand values for maximum impact.

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Specific tactics include surveying customers and employees to hear what words come to mind for your current brand, [doing a brand explore], and making sure those adjectives and values are listed in your campaign specs so no campaign strays too far from your goal message.

Tip #3: Design for the masses. Design is increasingly becoming a huge factor in what resonates with an audience and what doesn’t. When I’m asked, “Who is the first person you’d hire for your marketing team?” I always say, “An amazing designer.” Designers bring the brand to life. Your campaigns need to rise above the noise, and a beautiful, simple, effective design can do that.

Specific tactics include testing new design themes out first, passing around design pieces internally for team feedback, delighting your viewers with unexpected innovations, and making the design easily digestible and shareable to the masses.

Tip #4: Advocacy requires passionate stories. There is a misconception in brand marketing that if a user or customer has a great experience with your brand, they are  likely to advocate on your behalf. News flash: it takes more than that. While customer experience is key, delivering an exceptional one is now the new standard. There needs to be a brilliant story attached to that experience to encourage advocacy. Marketers need to be shaping those stories and wrapping them in their campaigns so happy users and customers can advocate something more than just a good experience review.

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Specific tactics include shaping stories internally with customer advisory boards or you community leaders, wrapping those stories in beautiful design, and amplifying them on social media platforms with advertising dollars. Another great tip is to take the responses to your campaigns and use them to seed your next campaign. It creates a flywheel effect that can be very powerful.

Tip #5: Hit a whole new level of vulnerability. It’s no secret that transparency goes a long way in our hyper-connected, conversational ecosystem. Today’s companies need to be willing to pull back the current and be vulnerable – both about their strengths and their weaknesses. Building a brand takes multiple moments of shared trust along a user’s lifecycle, and trust is built on the back of authenticity and vulnerability.

Specific tactics include showing off your product roadmap publicly and owning up to missed deadlines, showing off your customer service rating on the site somewhere, and blogging about the wins and losses of your everyday operation.

Tip #6: Appreciate early and often. Rewarding users for their activity and time investment is at the heart of building loyalty, and taking the time to say thank you seeds a reciprocal relationship. Companies that do this early in the lifecycle tend to seed loyalty sooner, which helps at every phase of the funnel. 

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Specific tactics include launching loyalty programs and/or campaigns (feel free to contact us to learn more about our product options), building customer appreciation strategies, creating influencer relationship programs, and more. If you have someone supporting your brand, you should be asking yourself how you can give back and say thank you.

Tip #7: Track that sh*t.  Let’s not beat around the bush about it – measuring brand loyalty is hard. Measuring brand advocacy is just as challenging. Are things shifting for the better, or are you losing ground? In my deck, I talk through some basic advice (like tracking for the goal metric, not trying to capture overall “engagement”), and I talk through some commonly accepted models for tracking loyalty.

Specific tactics include nailing down what the specific campaign aims to increase, setting up tracking, running retrospectives after the campaign ends, and adjusting the measurement model as needed.

Tip #8: Multi-channel it up. Mobile. It’s a thing. What is your brand doing to make sure your users and consumers are experiencing multiple touchpoints across their many devices during the phases of of the customer journey? I talk through some companies building brand loyalty well and how they’ve used mobile to target users differently, adding to their overall success.

Specific tactics include putting a team and resources into your mobile and local strategy, rethinking what “value” means on these devices, and starting with your best brand assets when considering your value add cross-device.

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Tip #9: Evangelize internally. This one is so important, and sadly, so many marketers forget about it. If you want to succeed in building brand loyalty and brand advocacy, it will need to be a company-wide initiative. That means the marketing team needs to be working cross-department to keep the user’s experience front of mind. We need to be reporting out where we are and where we want to be with our brands, and openly discussing the necessary steps to build an even better brand.

Specific tactics include building a cross-department team (retention, customer success, growth, or otherwise) that is focused on understand your customers and building loyalty, reporting out company wide metrics, and getting the buy-in from the leadership team to help push brand loyalty initiatives through.

Tip #10: Enable them to market on your behalf. This is so critical. You’ve put in so much time to build a loyal audience; now how can you leverage them to share your brand on your behalf? How can you empower them to introduce your brand (with their endorsement) to their social circles? I talk through a few different ways to leverage your advocates to grow your business.

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Specific tactics include launching a referral program (BigDoor has a great social loyalty campaign product to do this easily; ping us if you want to hear more), making your content easily shareable, rewarding advocacy, and more.

Those are my big tips on how to build loyal brand advocates. The deck also shows off some great brand examples of companies doing all of this well, and lists out specific tactics for you to try.

Again, I’d like to thank the Distilled team for letting me head down to San Diego and talk loyalty. It was a theme that came up in a number of the presentations given over the two-day conference. There is no doubt that brand marketing will become more and more a part of our every day job. No matter what marketing channel you play in, we all need to be asking ourselves: how can we help build brand loyalty and create a community of advocates? Those companies that invest early will be at a huge advantage moving forward.

Do you have tips on how to nurture advocacy and build loyalty? Let’s here them in the comments below!