Building a good brand requires a lot of soul searching. Bringing a company’s clarity of purpose to employees and clients is often lacking, but is very important to do today. If customers believe they are understood and can support a company’s vision, they will more than likely spread the word about the business. Brand advocacy will flourish. These days, people want to know that a business “gets” them and also wish to know what a firm is all about; what is their mission, and how does it tie in to the community at large? Webopedia defines a brand advocate as someone who “talks favorably about a brand or product, and then passes on positive word of mouth messages about brands to other people.” Word of mouth is crucial to business success.
How do you build a cadre of brand advocates? First, people need to know that the company understands who they are. What kind of lifestyle does an individual have? What are their needs? How does that determine how they might bring solutions to their world? A great example of how to do this is featured on the stroller and car seat company site, BOBgear.com. http://www.bobgear.com/strollers/which-bob-is-right-for-me. This website features women pushing strollers in a variety of scenarios: One is for a person who needs a stroller for “Easy, Everyday Strolling;” another is showing a woman who needs one for “Hard Core Running.” (There are others shown as well.) This helps a would-be customer determine their particular need, and then recommends the right stroller for that particular person, based on their lifestyle.
Understanding customers is certainly a key to business success. But do consumers also understand what a company stands for? More and more consumers today want to know this. What’s new is the growing trend of companies to support certain charities and non-profits aligned with their vision, to show that they are good corporate and community members. Businesses, large and small, along with non-profits are partnering together to work on shared goals. And they are sharing this information with consumers. A good example of this is the partnership between Nature Valley (makers of cereals and granola bars) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Nature Valley has a mission to encourage people to #GetOutThere, with respect to the great outdoors. This mission (along with their partnerships), is featured on their home page http://www.naturevalley.com/.
Non-profits, likewise, are publicizing their partnerships with businesses on their websites. The NPCA, for example, has a tab on their site that discusses their partnerships with companies, and in which of their programs. And on their website home page, there is a tab about their corporate partners, http://www.npca.org/about-us/Corporate_Partners.html and what programs the companies are supporting. Today, Nature Valley is at the top of that list. They are supporting our national parks through the NPCA. There is also a link for how anyone can get involved with their passion that takes you to the Nature Valley website. This is a” win-win” for everyone.
To understand the importance of these alliances with respect to brand advocacy, the NPCA declares that “Nine out of ten consumers believe it’s important for companies to seek ways to be good corporate citizens.” It is indeed an important component of good business practices today.