A strong brand identity is crucial for raising awareness and building a loyal community. But if you’re just getting started, or maybe if you’ve been focused on other areas of your business (i.e. building a team or a MVP), where do you start in building a strong identity?

There’s several important elements to consider when building your brand identity, such as:

  • Your goals
  • Who your target audience is
  • Your role within the marketplace
  • How you want to be perceived
  • How your audience actually perceives you

One of the most underestimated tools for building a brand identity is media monitoring (or social listening): The act of scanning the web and social web to listen to what’s being said about your brand, or any key term of interest. This is usually done with a tool that does the heavy lifting for you, but can also be done manually across different sites.

You can actually learn a lot about your own brand, competitors, and the market through media monitoring, as covered here.

In this post, we’ll cover how media monitoring will help you build a stronger identity by:

  1. Monitoring brand mentions (i.e. reputation management)
  2. Competitive analysis
  3. Market research // content opportunities
  4. Community building

Need help growing your brand? Learn how monitoring helps marketers build a stronger brand identity.

1. Monitoring brand mentions, perception of your brand

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According to our research, 31% of company mentions on Twitter alone do not include a company’s Twitter handle. Think about the mentions across other mediums such as forums, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. that you could be missing!

These mentions about you are just as (and arguably more) important as those directed to you. For example, they could be from a prospective customer researching your product, or a disgruntled customer who could’ve found a bug you didn’t even know about.

Being aware of these mentions will provide you with the opportunity to build brand awareness and valuable relationships, therefore strengthening your brand’s reputation and identity. It also makes customers happy, knowing that you’re paying attention.

Most importantly, you’ll gain an understanding of how the market feels about your brand — what they’re saying about you to their networks. You’ll get to know who your audience is, their tone, and what other words they’re using in relation to your brand name.

With this intel, you’ll pinpoint the problems they’re using your product or service to solve and better understand the role your brand plays in their lives, and therefore the tone your brand voice should have.

How?

  • Have your ear to the ground: Use a media monitoring tool, Advanced Twitter Search, Google Alerts, etc. No matter what tool you use, just start listening.
  • Join the conversation. Add value, be friendly and conversational.
  • Make a list of influencers, pain point terms, related terms, emotions described. Keep a master list to revisit later.
  • Make a list of values that you want to be perceived with your brand image.

Pro tip: List places that community members are talking about your brand — social networks, forums, hashtags (Twitter chats), etc.

2.  Monitor for competitive analysis

family guy - spy

When identifying what you want your own brand’s identity to be, it’s smart to get to know how your competitors are being perceived by your target audience. You’ll also gain an idea of the tone and messaging being used by competitors, what works, what doesn’t. Better yet, you’ll be inspired to develop unique ideas to make you stand out among the competition.

How?

  • Monitor competitor name, “competitor name + alternative,” and “competitor name + issues” to track specific references of a competitor’s name.
  • Make note of key terms used, emotions evoked, positive, and negative results.
  • Analyze how your brand mentions stack up against the competition to understand where your opportunities for improvement are.
  • Brainstorm how to stand out among the competition; how to appeal to an emotion they’re not appealing to.

3. Monitor for market research & content opportunities

liz-telescope-2

After you have an idea of how your audience is perceiving your brand and your competitors, do your due diligence in learning more about them.

To build a brand identity that will resonate with your target audience, you need to know what it is that interests them — as their interests relate to your brand, and as they don’t.

In step one, you identified other terms your audience is using in affiliation with your brand. Use these as a starting point. Plug them into Google Trends or Ubersuggest.org to broaden your term library with relevant searches. This will help you find audience members who may not be directly searching for your solution, but could still need it.

Then, start listening to the conversations around these terms with your media monitoring tool. With media monitoring, you can discover:

  • What problems your audience is looking to solve, or what needs to fill.
  • What type of language and sentiment they use in relation to these topics.
  • What type of content are they sharing, and more importantly, what they’re missing.
  • What’s driving them to engage with each other.

How?

  • Take a look at the stats section of your media monitoring tool for industry key terms and your brand name. Your tool should offer a trends section or word cloud to help you easily identify what other terms your audience is using in association with your brand.
  • Work it into your workflow to monitor these convos and stay on top of trends (i.e. take 30 minutes every morning and evening to identify top conversations and influencers).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or schedule meetings with folks actively looking for help or a solution. Start a casual conversation, learn how you can help.

4. Monitor for community building opportunities

always sunny - dancing

After you’ve gained a better understanding of who will make the most of your brand offering, recruit these people to be your first community members. Community creates a sense of involvement — membership — exclusivity that makes people feel good.

This is a great starting point for building your brand identity and awareness among a smaller, niche group and testing different messaging and language until you found what feels right, and what works for you and your audience.

How?

Building the community:

  • Start conversations with the influencers identified in steps one and three.
  • Find commonalities through market research and conversation starters.
  • Offer early access — exclusivity.

Community research:

  • Ask questions! Use your community as your beta testers. Use surveys and one-to-one conversations.
  • Monitor how they’re engaging with reach other.

Create brand advocates:

  • Your early community members are probably going to be your most active and loyal brand advocates.
  • Go above and beyond for these people.
  • Consider a reward system or gamification to drive them to share your brand / spread the word.
  • IRL events are the best way to get to know your community and create a sense of ownership.

Wrapping it up

We covered a lot of ground here. If you only take one thing away, let it be this: In order to build a brand identity, you need to know how you want your customers to feel about your brand, and what tone and messages will make them feel that way. The only way to learn that is by listening to what they’re saying and how they’re communicating with each other.

Find out how to build a stronger brand with our free ebook:

Ebook Brand Monitoring: The Secret to Growing Your Brand

Shannon Byrne is the Content & PR Manager at Mention where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal advocates. She’s based in New York. Get in touch with her at @ShannnonB.

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