Tom Aldous & Christiaan Myrberg, Acrolinx
One of the hallmarks of a successful company is how it manages its brand value. After all, the more well-known (and well-regarded!) your brand is, the more your company stands to benefit from the new influx of curious consumers and product reviewers. We’re all familiar with the prevalence of Apple products in today’s market, driven as they are by an ambitious advertising campaign that peddles identity as much as electronics. The similar success of companies like Google, IBM, and Adobe should make reluctant businesses reconsider the state of their own branding initiatives (or lack thereof). Brand recognition is inextricably tied to quantifiable business value. The Marketing Leadership Roundtable reports that “72 percent of customers are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for their brand of choice over the closest competitor,” and that in some industries, increasing consumer base loyalty by just 2 percent can affect the bottom line as much as a 10 percent cost reduction. Moreover, they found that “branded companies outperform and have lower volatility than industry benchmarks,” with companies with the largest gains in brand equity generating an average current-stock return of 30 percent.
How to increase brand recognition? You must be primarily concerned not only with increasing your marketing presence, but also with “aligning” your business in deed and word. Consistent, reliable business decisions and activity that the customer can point to as indicative of your brand are crucial. For example, developing a core purpose (in other words, the “what” and “why” of your organization) helps you define success, move in a specific direction, and know which stakeholders to engage and ideas to implement. Likewise, creating and keeping brand promises increases confidence in both your customers and your employees. However, all actions begin with communication—whether it’s orders handed down to employees, agreements drawn up by executives, or corporate e-mails sent to established customers—so ensuring high-quality information is perhaps the most important step of all.
Can Information Quality Help?
Developing the skill of “humanizing” corporate speak (a feat less simple than it sounds) and delivering good quality content positively impacts the experience of your customers, bringing them back for more of your brand. Clear, concise messaging and consistent tone in all customer-facing materials—what we call “speaking with one voice”—influences purchase decisions, reduces the number of customer support calls, helps you avoid accidents and lawsuits, and increases ease of localization. In other words, “content” might as well be synonymous with “brand value.”
In today’s Internet Age, more people are likely to research potential purchases long before they ever approach a salesperson. In fact, companies like Amazon have founded their reputations on the idea that most people will never even touch the products before buying them. Amazon’s huge success can be partly credited to the high quality of the content delivered on their web site—after all, that’s all the customer initially has to go on. And fine-tuning instructional documents, along with marketing and informational documents, lowers the costs incurred from frequent calls to customer support (and keeps your customers happy, of course!).
The bottom line: a consistent, professional tone in documentation, print and social media, and advertising assists enormously in raising the value of your brand.
Enter Quality Management
We already know that the success of your branding initiatives depends on clear messaging, bold outreach, and the implementation of long-term goals. The latter two goals may be well within your ability to achieve. However, without a thorough system in place to manage the messaging, any attempt to tune your content will just be a “feel-good” exercise. The push to implement new content strategies by company executives does not always guarantee that the appropriate methods are used—or that the bottom line equals the amount of effort that you and your writers put in. Using a Quality Management tool like Acrolinx to manage the content and documentation surrounding your product contributes enormously to the protection of your brand. It helps you to achieve the fabled “one voice” with greatly reduced time and effort, in addition to teaching your writers how to avoid common pitfalls and branding violations when creating content.
The methods used to jump-start your brand also require a way to measure improvements and changes over time. How do you know that your initiatives are actually getting you what you want? Acrolinx employ a sophisticated system of metrics that delivers content “report cards” and quantifies bottom-line results, providing an easy-to-use means of quality control.
At the end of the day, there’s no good excuse not to take the reins and redirect your content into an exciting new direction. Your brand—and your business! —will be better for the effort.