Developing a robust brand is essential in today’s highly connected, cutting-edge digital landscape. Just ask the celebrities that lose millions of dollars in endorsement money due to adverse press or damaging allegations only minutes after the unfavorable news breaks. A year ago, Chipotle Mexican Grill experienced a food safety crisis that nearly destroyed its brand forever. Although the famous restaurant chain is still feeling the adverse effects of an E. coli outbreak, Market Force reported that the chain was rated No. 1 among its competitors in a recent 2017 study.
How can a restaurant chain that suffered the ultimate food safety black eye bounce back so effectively? Two words: brand reputation. Chipotle’s branding goal during the outbreak was to remain in its customer’s minds as the healthier, more socially responsible alternative to fast food. Establishing and achieving branding goals early on will inevitably leave your clients with a positive perception about your company for years to come (and will help your brand during and after a PR nightmare).
Establish your brand’s reputation early and often.
While establishing my technology company, my focus was solely on developing a remarkable product and providing an outstanding value to my customers. Like many entrepreneurs, I neglected to focus on the purpose behind my products and the passion behind my brand. Consequently, I undervalued the importance of establishing a compelling brand story. My website exhibited a lack of personality, and my employees were focused more on making sales than developing relationships.
The turning point came when we were over-negotiating on a mobile application package with a client. Our price points were far lower than our competitors, and our portfolio and client referrals were immaculate. What seemed to be the problem? We lacked an established brand reputation. No brand reputation equaled a lack of trust in the potential customer’s mind. After never successfully acquiring the new client, I decided to focus our attention on building a brand as opposed to a company.
Hire a celebrity endorser or spokesperson.
My technology company is fortunate to have a couple of notable NFL veterans that contribute to the success of our brand. After bringing on a celebrity endorser, my business has been featured on Sports Illustrated and the NFL Network among other distinguished publications. Frankly, it all goes back to having a celebrity endorse our brand.
There are celebrities in every industry. Some influencers are local celebrities, like the lawyer that’s always on TV, and some are national celebrities, such as athletes, movie stars and music artist. Luckily for you, celebrities consistently post on social media regarding their future whereabouts and interests. Start attending the same events and functions as the celebrity that you are targeting and you are bound to meet. While networking with the star, align your brand with his goals and beliefs. If the celebrity can see himself aligning well with your brand, you will gain a colleague and a valuable brand evangelist. A brand evangelist can easily convert into a celebrity spokesperson if there is an exchange of actual or perceived monetary value.
Here are a few reasons to bring on a celebrity endorser or spokesperson:
- You can gain access to the celebrity’s network of followers, fans and business partners.
- Bringing on a well-known name behind your unknown brand can accelerate your brand’s recognition immediately.
- Your brand gains a new angle for news stories and media opportunities.
- Your brand gains the perception of success by association.
- You can receive valuable business insights from the celebrity regarding your brand’s digital and physical footprint.
Latch onto news stories regarding your target market and industry.
The news cycle is always in a nonstop rotation. Running a veteran-owned company keeps me continually digesting news and data. I have discovered that any and all information that surfaces regarding veteran business matters in the media is ideal for promoting my business. Furthermore, it also presents an excellent opportunity to be invited on TV or radio as a subject matter expert.
Latching onto recent breaking news is not complicated but will require creativity. It also requires, at the very least, that you answer the following questions:
- How will you use the news story to promote your business?
- Is your goal to educate or to advertise?
- Do you want your customers to think about your brand when they think about the news story?
- What do you want people to remember about this news story?
I host a successful weekly TV segment that covers veteran issues and highlights emerging military entrepreneurs. My producer and I book guests based on their business successes and the current military news cycle. For instance, we booked a Marine veteran that transitioned into civilian life successfully after reading a report concerning veterans that struggle with life after they leave the military. I booked another veteran entrepreneur to discuss his journey from homelessness to entrepreneurship after a report surfaced regarding the increase of homeless veterans. The media needs your story; use the news cycle to accelerate your brand, and to increase your brand’s digital footprint.