Good brands know that they need to be credible, inspire their customers, create emotional bonds, and send a message. The best brands know that selling is about more than a bulleted list of features. To be the best, you must strive to understand customer needs, values, beliefs, and culture.
And what customers want in 2019 is to have transparent accessibility with the brands they love. For example, 82 percent of customers expect immediate communication with brands.
Embrace brand accessibility to give customers the communication they crave. In turn, you’ll build a brand that will weather the test of time.
What Is Brand Accessibility?
Color palettes and logos matter, but more than anything, branding is about the mood you evoke. Ask any person on the street whether they prefer Microsoft or Apple, and you’ll get a strong reaction. That’s the power of branding at work.
But it’s not enough to have a brand; you need to build a brand that’s accessible. Accessible branding is about giving customers the information they need in a consistent format, no matter where they find your brand. It’s about being responsive and reachable.
When you’re more accessible, you welcome customers into a dialogue with your brand. This helps people interact with you in real time, building an emotional connection that fosters brand loyalty.
The Benefits of Brand Accessibility
It’s hard to be “on” all the time. But in our 24/7 world, that’s exactly what customers expect of you as a brand. The good news is that once you master the art of accessible branding, you’ll reap three major rewards:
Nothing is more powerful in the world of business than word-of-mouth marketing. Happy customers actively recommend and recruit new customers to your brand with little investment on your part.
Consumers are more suspicious of brands today than ever before. That’s why consistency is the key to earning consumers’ trust.
A strong, accessible brand communicates who you are to customers immediately. This is why you know a soda can is Coca-Cola before you even see the logo. The brand is consistent, and the company has earned consumers’ trust because of that consistency.
Marketing is hard enough; it’s even harder when customers don’t understand who you are.
Accessible branding removes barriers to a sale. There’s little need to communicate how you solve customers’ pain points. In this way, accessible branding accelerates the conversion timeline and optimizes your marketing resources.
How to Be More Accessible
Accessibility is about crafting unique and compelling experiences with your brand. Here’s how brands can be more accessible to their customers:
Lead with Value
Branding isn’t about you; it’s about your customers’ needs and priorities. Your brand needs to lead with value to be accessible to the most customers possible.
First, adjust your customer service practices. If customers can’t get in touch with your customer service team, that’s a huge red flag. Give customers more than one avenue to chat with your team. If you’re strapped for resources, AI-powered chatbots can help you manage inquiries quickly.
Second, offer giveaways. Contests and freebies build buzz around your brand, and they also encourage sharing.
When you lead with value, whether through a blog, white paper, or video, customers see your brand as a helpful authority. You instantly become more accessible as a benevolent authority that’s there to guide customers.
Consistency helps customers become more comfortable with you, which is critical if you want people to buy your product or service.
But it’s hard to be consistent in today’s online environment. With so many platforms, it’s easy to change your voice or style depending on the context. This is a recipe for customer confusion.
Instead, be consistent to build an accessible brand.
Create a style guide that everyone at your organization can access. The style guide helps everyone from accounting to marketing understand your brand voice, palette, spacing, logo, and all the other differentiating traits of your brand.
If you haven’t already, do a branding purge. Go through your outreach emails, social media, and website for anything off-brand. Update or remove the information so that customers get a consistent view of your brand, no matter where they first interact with you.
Accessibility is about being transparent and relatable. That’s why it’s so important to humanize your brand.
Remember, it’s okay to have a vision or opinion; brands are supposed to make a statement. You can’t market to customers with a shotgun approach or with bland messaging. By developing values and a personality, you can make more connections with the right customers for your brand. By drawing a line in the sand, you clarify your target audience and values.
For example, Subaru struggled to compete with Ford and Toyota. Instead of copying other automakers, Subaru tapped into its adventurous personality and values. The company’s LGBTQ+-friendly ads are now famous and have earned lifelong loyalty from the LGBTQ+ community.
In that same vein, embrace feedback. Nothing makes you more accessible than welcoming a dialogue with your customers. Encourage and respond to all reviews. Invite customers to take surveys. Use this information to see what you’re doing well and what needs adjusting.
The Pitfalls of Accessibility
Accessibility has many benefits, but brands need to proceed with caution. There are some dangers that come along with being too accessible:
Promise Versus Reality
It’s one thing to be accessible, but can you live up to the promise of being accessible right now? It can be hard for small businesses to provide 24/7 customer support. But if you promise that as part of being accessible, it will do more harm than good for your brand.
Customers see a lot of messages online. If you’re too accessible, you could be taking up more than your fair share in their news feed, which is a bad thing. Follow best practices for email and social media posting to keep your customers happy instead of overloaded.
If something goes wrong with your company, you have to be transparent about it. Whether it’s a product recall, safety problem, or legal issue, everything is out in the open with accessible branding.
These dangers shouldn’t deter you from being more accessible. Rather, they’re something to keep in mind so you scale your efforts thoughtfully while protecting the brand.
The Bottom Line
Companies can no longer hide behind anonymous forms if they expect to create long-term advocates for their brands. Customers want to have relationships with you. Embrace brand accessibility to be there for your customers 24/7 — so they’ll be there for you in return.