Your brand’s success can be measured in a number of ways. From sales to the number of customers you have to how many people have heard of you, there are any number of intangible ways to measure it.
However, your success can also be defined. As the ecommerce spaces continues to become more competitive, the idea of being known as a “premium” or “world class” brand is becoming increasingly appealing.
World class: goods, services, and processes that are ranked by customers and industry experts to be among the best of the best.
Regardless of how you interpret it, the term “world class” has a certain ring to it but can be difficult to quantify. How do you actually go about building this public perception of your brand?
5 steps to becoming a world class brand
Even though terms like “world class” are ambiguous, there are many practical ways you can align your brand with this definition of success.
Here are the 5 you need to do to set yourself apart.
Step 1: create desire with a compelling brand story
Many brands misinterpret brand awareness for desire when they are actually very different things. For one thing, brand awareness isn’t an effective way to grow your business. Similarly, customers might know about your brand but not care.
The missing ingredient? Desire.
World class brands create desire for their products with a clear brand story.
When customers desire your product or service, it doesn’t matter how big your presence is in your industry. As long as shoppers actively want and seek out your products, you are in a position to confidently define yourself as a world class brand, and a compelling brand story will help you get there.
Your brand story is the easiest and most effective way to get customers interested in engaging with your brand. This is because stories have the power to build emotional relationships, tethering customers to your brand in ways online advertising never can.
Take Apple, for example. Back when the company started, it was nothing more than two guys in a garage with an idea — to design technology that can help anyone become a visionary. This story was not only appealing to a wide variety of shoppers but also accessible and exciting. Now, Apple is officially one of the biggest brands in the world and continues to succeed with the same story at the core of their marketing strategy.
When customers care about the story you’re telling, you have the power to create lasting desire for your products that will transform your brand from ordinary to extraordinary.
Step 2: protect your reputation
Did you know that the word “brand” is just another way to describe your company’s reputation?
Think about it: your reputation is what customers associate with your products, making it a leading indicator of how valuable they are. The same can be said for your brand. As an intangible piece of your business model, your brand is simply a representation of how customers view the customer and product experiences you offer.
Your brand is your company's reputation.
As a result, your reputation is impacted by every element of your customer experience, from the way your products look to the way they’re packaged and the support customers receive. Your brand is impacted by an incredible number of touchpoints that can all change the way customers think and feel about your brand.
That makes customer feedback extremely important. Seeking and acting on feedback in each of these areas is how you can maintain good standing with both new and returning customers alike, protecting your reputation and associating your brand with world class customer service.
If you’re not sure what that looks like, just look at the Walt Disney Company. For years, they’ve been known for outstanding customer service and family-friend values — two elements that are evident in every branch of their company. From their theme parks to their films, they take every measure possible to ensure this reputation remains untampered and in good standing.
This is reinforced by the excessive number of customer stories that highlight these exceptional standards. Each of these stories help reinforce their reputation as a company, making it clear that protecting your brand standards is key to being recognized as the best of the best.
Step 3: clearly define your brand values
One of the most telling signs of a weak brand is a lack of clear values. Not being able to articulate why you’re better than your competition is an indication to your customers that you don’t know why they should be choosing you. As a result, they’re less confident in their decision to shop with you and will be less likely to return in the future.
Your values are what set you apart, making them a key feature of a world class brand experience.
Knowing who you are and what you stand for allows you to carve a distinct niche for your brand and clearly define it for your customers. When customers understand these details, they will start to rally behind you. This support is what allows you to build a brand community that helps your business grow sustainably.
Your brand values also help promote a sense of consistency throughout your entire brand experience. Having a clear stance on an issue or topic provides the perfect backdrop for every element of your brand, creating clear connections between each touchpoint.
This is how TOMS quickly established themselves as a leader in fashion, and the first brand that comes to mind when you think about the buy-one-give-one business model. With prominent messages describing how they’re using their business to give back to communities around the world, they make it easy for customers to align themselves with something bigger than themselves.
This shared sense of ownership deepens the feeling of community their customers feel with each other and the brand, firmly establishing TOMS as a brand that not only sets themself apart but also wants to help you do good and feel good.
Step 4: prioritize good design
Whether you like it or not, customers are going to make assumptions about your brand based on how it looks. The way you present your store and the products you sell has a major impact on how customers will interpret your brand and, as a result, it’s reputation moving forward.
World class brands focus on building a beautifully designed experience in order to make a strong impression.
Hopefully this doesn’t come as a surprise. For years blogs have been writing about the importance of good web design, particularly in the ecommerce space. Now your complete store experience is more visual than ever, expanding beyond a single purchase to include many more touch points:
In order to be considered a world class brand, you need to connect each of these elements with a clear visual language. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking second rate.
While this might sound like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. UK cosmetics brand Spectrum Collections has done a phenomenal job of connecting every aspect of their brand experience with simple visual cues. From their pop-up shops to their website to their rewards program explainer page, every element of their brand experience is clearly connected by a distinct tone of voice.
With a number of engaging elements like videos and custom fonts, they clearly communicate their brand story, values, and products at every turn. This consistent messaging shows their community how much they value good design and demonstrates a strong desire to look (and feel) like a world class brand.
Step 5: focus on building community
Last but most certainly not least, world class brands prioritize building a strong brand community. The world’s best brands all have a dedicated following of customers who love and respect what they’re doing, and it’s this enthusiasm that defines a great brand community.
Every world class brand starts with a strong brand community.
With an excited customer base, world class brands are able to supercharge the engagement they get from their followers. This is most easily accomplished with a strong rewards program, that allows brands like Sephora and inkbox to turn every customer into a repeat customer. Rewards give you the opportunity to turn 5 purchases into 10 as you transform even the smallest transaction into an outstanding, long term customer relationship.
The key to building a great community is to keep it simple. Your customers should easily be able to not only understand the value of joining your community but also be able to join. Even though it might be tempting to design an elaborate rewards experience, don’t overthink it. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to join and stay engaged.
Protect your elite status with a community
The true mark of a world class brand is the desire to be the absolute best. In the ocean of commerce, you want to be the shark — not the guppy.
Focusing on these 5 steps will help you establish your brand as the place to be. With a clear brand story and exceptional design, you can build a reputation and brand community that advocates for the world class status of your brand, making them your most valuable assets for setting yourself apart.