Branding is like fishing, except with digital bait. Pic: pixabay

Hook, line, and sinker: How customer experience can influence brand success

BRANDING is a hot topic right now, what with the rise of personal branding and the increased use of social media as a customer service tool. It’s the one thing a business can control that influences how a product or service is perceived.

Even when two competitors offer similar products, the one that can build a loyal customer base around its brand is more likely to see better growth and profitability.

According to the Meaningful Brands Index, people’s relationship with brands is stronger in the Asia Pacific region at 39 percent, compared with the global average of 20 percent. In addition, businesses with brands considered to be trustworthy usually outperform the stock market index by 120 percent.

But how do you establish your brand, especially in an increasingly digital business environment?

According to studies, you only have three seconds to make a good impression on your prospective customer, particularly if you run a digital business. In fact, it only takes two-tenths of a second for a person to form an opinion of your brand, and another two seconds to retain this impression.

Establishing trust goes beyond the first impression, however – a pleasant user experience, as well as reliability in terms of product and engagement, could help you land a customer hook, line and sinker.

First impressions

In building a loyal customer following, a good first impression is king. For a digital business, this mostly has to do with meaningful design.

Is your brand and product design attractive enough to draw customers in? Does your website or application provide a refreshing view? Or, does it present a stagnant brand – perhaps reminiscent of a website straight from the mid 1990s?

Landing page for The Raj Palace in Jaipur

Apart from how your brand or product appears, content is also key. This is especially important in digital businesses that focus content, such as publications and apps. It pays to invest in good design and in good content.

User experience

User experience, or UX, will be the next step in gaining trust for your brand. You need to deliver a worthwhile UX for people to actually stay on after first contact.

Beyond simple aesthetics, principles of good UX will require that your app, website or product is easy to use or navigate. This also means that you should consider how the bulk of your target market accesses your product. With a growing majority of web traffic being accessed from mobile devices, this means optimizing for smaller screens and touch-enabled interfaces, as well as functionality on regular web browsers.

The key here is reducing the amount of friction that customers experience when using your product. In addition, the product itself should satisfy whatever goals your intended users have. Otherwise, they will simply move on to whatever else works better for them.

Tip: don’t make users jump through hoops just to find the things they are looking for. Having a confusing layout or making navigation difficult can make the difference between the success or death of your brand.

Reliability and follow-through

Last, but definitely not least, is reliability. After attracting users through your brand image and UX, businesses still need to make sure the product delivers as promised. Ensuring the customer’s total satisfaction leads to customer retention, which means loyalty.

For a digital company, this also involves ensuring you are running on a strong and secure infrastructure – there are few things more irritating than having an app you’re excited about crash repeatedly on you.

Take a leaf out of Pokémon GO’s book, and ensure servers are able to handle any sudden surge in traffic before allowing customers access to it.

The takeaway

The most profitable businesses – whether big or small – have one thing in common: they have strong branding and are considered trustworthy leaders in their respective industries.

Building a strong brand image is not always that simple, but you can start from the basics. By establishing a good impression and following through with excellent UX and plenty of reliability, customers will keep coming back.