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Your brand is more than a logo, tagline, or snazzy website. Your brand is a symbol of your product; its quality, its reputation, and what you deliver. Once your brand becomes tainted, it’s a long road to build it back and restore how people perceive your product. So unless you have a huge PR budget, and can ride out product malfunctions, poor customer service, or bad management, heed the advice below to help you build a brand symbol that represents a positive experience for your customers.

Treat your customers like superheroes

Your customers control your brand more than you do. We live in a social media dominated world, so whether you like it or not, you don’t have nearly as much of a voice as you used to. But, you can use this to your advantage by treating your customers like superheroes. To understand what your customers want, take some time to do customer journey mapping. The more you can see each stage in the process that customers go through when interacting with you, the better you’ll be able to fill gaps and enhance what’s working.

Do qualitative research any time you’re developing a new product

If you’re still developing products in a vacuum (that is, with only internal input or informal customer insights), you are missing one of the most essential steps in building a brand. Your customers are the ones who use your product. How you envision them using your product (or service) may not be how they actually do in practice. The only accurate way to get customer feedback is through qualitative market research. With qualitative research, you’ll gain rich insights on the product concept. You’ll be able to test price points, brand messaging, and explore roadmap ideas. If you rely instead only on quantitative data (surveys) or input from what your sales team “hears in the field,” expect that your brand will not be reaching its potential and truly delivering what your customers are after.

Don’t let complacency ruin what you’ve created

Building a brand is not a one-time event. Your brand’s reputation is more like a sand dune; it will shift with time as new products influence how customers see your product. Cultural shifts, media influences. Generational changes. All of these factors will influence how your brand is perceived. Keep your brand relevant and ensure you don’t become complacent with product development or how you treat your customers. Mitigate these risks by conducting frequent check-ins with your customers. Go beyond simple customer service surveys (people are SO sick of surveys). Do annual focus groups. Create customer panels. Seek insights and show your customers you care about their opinions by constantly checking in on how your brand is delivering.

Your brand has equity, just like your stock portfolio

Finally, when you think about your brand, think about it the way you do about your stock portfolio (because your brand actually represents your company’s stock value). The more you invest in your product development, customer service strategy, and marketing plan, the more equity you’re building in your brand.

Interested in building your brand? InterQ Research is the leading San Francisco market research company. Request a proposal today >