Creating Brand Awareness with the Four Cs

If potential customers aren’t aware of your brand, you’re not going to make much money, even if you’re selling the most wonderful product in the world. You can fix this problem, however, by working on the four Cs of brand awareness: clarity, creativity, consistency, and cohesiveness.

Okay, I admit it, the four Cs for creating brand awareness is my own shortcut to understanding the steps you need to take. But you should have an easy time remembering it if you’ve ever considered shopping for a diamond. Behind each C is a world of importance that affects one’s impression of a diamond – or in this case, a brand. So what impression do you want to make on your potential customers?

Obviously, you want to make a good impression, but believe it or not, “a good impression” is not quite specific enough. Think about your friends and their very different personalities. They may all be good, reliable friends, but one likes art museums, another loves screwball comedies, and a third will talk your ear off about the latest book he’s read. Companies have personalities, too. There may be some constraints due to the need to present a professional appearance, but there’s a lot of room for differences. Consider Google and IBM. They’re both big companies, but they present very different faces to the world.

This is where our first C, Clarity, comes in. You could also call it “comprehension.” What is your company’s special vision? What do you want customers to think of when they see your logo? For that matter, who ARE your customers? What are they like? What do they do? How do they use your product? What image will appeal to them? What do they need from you? What do you do that makes you different from, and better than, your competitors?

If it helps, think of your company as a person, and consider what kind of person it would be. If you’re the company’s founder, this might be an easy exercise. Once you have that image in your head, you need to come up with a short mission statement and tag line. Don’t be afraid to spend a fair bit of time doing your research at this stage; remember, you’re striving for a clear vision, and it’s going to guide everything else you do from this point forward.

As an example, Google’s mission statement is “Organizing all of the world’s information” and its tag line is “Don’t be evil.” Their vision is somewhat implicit in these two statements. They imply a willingness to tackle seemingly impossible tasks and a work environment in which people can grow.

Now it’s time to move on to the second C, Creativity. When you’ve decided what image you want for your company, it’s time to spread this image to everything. What kind of logo conveys your brand’s attitude? Again, comparing Google with IBM is instructive. Be careful, because you’re going to put this attitude everywhere. It affects all decisions, big and small: the colors and fonts you use on your website, the layout of your company’s brochures and catalogs, the design and setup of your company’s booths at trade shows, and so much more. As just one example, it affects the “voice” you use on your website. Some of that might be dictated by your business; I wouldn’t expect a lawyer to use the same tone on his website as a tie-dye artist. But in any case, you’re creating a brand in the image you decided you wanted when you did your research with the first C.

{mospagebreak title=Branding with Consistency and Cohesiveness}

Every C is important, but now it’s time to move on to the C that causes many businesses to stumble: consistency. You may think I covered it earlier when I said that you need to make sure that everything about your business conveys your brand’s image. In truth, that simply scratches the surface. Sure, it’s important that your website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and hard copy all show your carefully-developed face for your brand. But there are other facets to being consistent.

Do you keep regular business hours? Brick-and-mortar companies have to, of course, but so should online firms. Do your customers know that if they email you, you will get back to them by a certain time? Put it on your website – and don’t break that rule for anything. In fact, make sure all of your important contact information is on your website, as well as what hours you can be reached.

Do you write a blog? Make sure you update it regularly – and by “regularly” I don’t mean “once a week, when I get around to it.” If you’re going to maintain a business blog and hope to use it to attract readers and customers, you really need to post entries at least three times a week. If you post to Facebook and Twitter for business purposes, you need to do so even more frequently – two to three times a day for each service.

Do you run a booth regularly at trade shows or other events? Your customers will expect to see you there – not just at the show, but in your regular spot if you’ve done it several years in a row. If you have a product that you sell to businesses for resale, make sure you know when they’re likely to run out – and contact them around that time so they’re not tempted to go somewhere else to restock.

Please don’t think that being consistent places a straitjacket on your creativity or your company’s growth. Very often, the opposite is true. When customers see that they can depend on you, they’ll give you more of their business, and you’ll be compelled to expand. You’ll just need to figure out how to do so while being true to your brand.

For example, one website I know managed to expand their community onto Facebook, and then experimented with posting extra content on their website – that could only be unlocked with a password. But you’d only see the password if you’d “friended” their Facebook page. As you’d expect for having to go through the extra step, the password-protected content is more extensive and higher quality than the stuff that’s out in the open – but the regular content did not go down in quality. That’s consistency.

Now I’m going to cover the final C, which is Cohesiveness. How is this different from the other Cs? Being cohesive means taking extra pains to make sure you’re sending the same message about your brand in every channel you use.

For example, say your company is a grocery store. The image you’ve chosen to present for your brand is that you offer fresh, high-quality foods to help your customers create simple, healthy home-cooked meals. You’re going to make sure that your store’s layout is organized around this principle. You may have stands in your store that offer sample recipes that customers can easily cook at home using items they purchase from you. When you send out promotional mailings, you’re not going to include cheap, unhealthy, poor-quality alternatives.

Now that you know about the four Cs of brand awareness – clarity, creativity, consistency, and cohesiveness – you can apply them to creating brand awareness for your own company and its offerings. Good luck!  

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