Most of us knew of what happened to Dolce & Gabbana (D&G). While campaigning for a fashion show in Shanghai, D&G published an advertisement that managed to offend the whole country. Their advert showed a lack of research and understanding (perhaps even arrogance) towards a foreign market.
The advertisement, meant to present the Italian designer brand to the Chinese, showed an Asian model struggling to eat Italian food using a pair of chopsticks. Many Chinese didn’t find it funny at all, and called the ad racist and degrading. Adding salt to the wound, there was a scandal involving one of the founder’s reported ill-tempered response towards the backlash on social media. In the end, D&G’s Shanghai show was cancelled amid throngs of boycotts from Chinese retailers, celebrities, and consumers. Their brand image was clearly soiled.
Research is therefore vital before any branding and selling can begin, especially towards a new market or demographic. It is super easy (and very lazy) to stereotype or assume, but the consequences are risky and often costly. D&G’s designer goods might be top quality, but it won’t sell in China, the world’s largest luxury market, due to the lack of cultural sensitivity.
No doubt, referrals are great. They can provide your prospects with helpful testimonies and advocate your brand. So why not amplify the advocacy online? Your company website can go literally miles to reach new prospects far and wide. More importantly, the internet is where almost everything is done these days. Your prospects are searching online using keywords relevant to your business. It’ll be a waste if they can’t find you.
Being presentable and visible online is an effective brand awareness method. Having a mediocre website or none at all hampers your brand ability to stand out. When was the last time you updated your company website? Is it working properly?
Unless you are trying to stay hidden or mysterious as part of your brand strategy, you need to have a social media presence. It humanises your brand and helped you gain valuable brand awareness. While your website is meant to be formal (again, unless you aim for an informal look inline with your branding), social media is more casual and conversational, something your audience can get used to.
Especially for corporate websites and B2B brands, social media is a great tool to connect to customers in a friendlier way. It also paves way for better customer service, pushing sales and promotions, and a more analytical approach towards understanding your customers. 75% of the Malaysian population used social media daily as active users. Your target customers could be among this population too, coming from diverse backgrounds like B2B, B2C and government agencies.
But a brand guideline does bring in the money. It’s the core of your brand identity, documented in black and white for all to see. Brand guidelines provide a lot of advantages to your branding efforts. For one thing, it helps your brand be more consistent. Consistent brands are 3 to 4 more times more likely to experience brand visibility.
And consistency is super important for a brand to be able to establish an identity, foster brand recognition, and look like the real deal. Nothing says “amateur brand alert!” more than messy, constantly changing colours, logo positions, fonts, photo styles or tone of voice from one communication to another.
This abridged version of Skype’s brand guideline provides a clear and correct point of reference to their suppliers, employees, and partners. They even have some examples of do’s and don’ts to give a clearer picture of how their brand should look like (and not look like), consistently.
As they say, nothing ventured is nothing gain. If your company is chasing an ambition, you would want to have a strategy on how to achieve it. And something as substantial and enduring as a brand strategy requires substantial investment in time and resources.
64% of customers say that shared values are the reason they have a trusted relationship with a brand. And a lot of brands miss the target when it comes to having a value or belief that their audience can relate to. Your brand messages have to resonate to the target audience in order for a relationship to be established.