Being likeable is not about being liked by everyone. Likeable brands actually need to be very clear about who likes them and why and how they need to behave in order to continue to appeal to their community. 10 ways to build a truly likeable brand states the principles of likeability and is one of my most popular posts. As a companion piece, here’s my 30 point action list on how brands should systematically accumulate likeability. Order can vary.
If you want to be a likeable brand:
1. Decide who you want to be liked by – and what you want them to value you for. Better yet, find the (sizeable) group of people that want to buy and that no-one else likes. Pay them attention.
2. Have a clear, world-changing purpose that speaks to the people you want to reach – and act to realise that purpose in everything you do. Support things no-one else has thought to support and that your audience would like to see you support.
3. Know what your customers like. Talk with them about things that make them smile.
4. Make beautiful things – beauty in this context meaning the most wonderful way to achieve something. I can’t think of a single likeable brand that doesn’t hold design close to its soul. Bring joy to the people who matter to you. (Ignore everyone else)
5. Continue to give your customers new things to like about you. Surprise them. Enchant them. Charm them. Flatter them. Above all, involve them.
6. Be nice and play fair – state your principles and your values and stick to them. Be very public about that.
7. Decide who/what you don’t like in the world, why you are fighting to stop them/that and how you will articulate that. Rail against things that have your customers shaking their fists in chorus.
8. Seek support and loyalty – not popularity. Have meaningful metrics. If you’re just chasing the analytics, you’re just chasing shadows. Trending is not a business case.
9. Bang your own drum. Do enough to be recognisable in a category, but never conform to the extent that you become replaceable.
10. Bring people together. Be a gathering point, not just a buying point (and certainly not just a price point). Give them things to talk about. Encourage them to socialise around you.
11. Protect your reputation at all times, in all places. You’re never off the record, you’re never offline, you’re never after-hours – because none of these analogue ideas exist in a social world. Likeable doesn’t have business hours. If it does, it’s just ‘like for sale’ – and no-one likes that.
12. Sell the ways you know your customers like to buy.
13. Be where your customers would like to find you – and be there wholeheartedly.
14. Give your customers the service they deserve, and tell them why. If they’re paying a premium, give them premium service. If they’re paying less, do enough and explain why that’s what you can afford to offer them. Offer them ways to buy more/better (for a price) if that’s what they’d like.
15. Be humble – but proud. Front up to any situation. Put a face to the issue. Act quickly and decisively to put mistakes right. Apologise when you get things wrong. Explain but don’t make excuses. Ask for forgiveness if it’s warranted. Communicate, communicate, communicate … Be the brand people would like you to be.
16. Be worth the asking price (not just your margin) in everything you do. Purchase is the most powerful “Like” there is. Repeat purchases are the ultimate “Follow”.
17. Have a language that is all your own. It’s a code amongst the community. It binds people together in the simplest and most powerful way.
18. Love your clients’ world. Likeable brands walk in their customers’ footprints. They play in their neighbourhoods (psychologically at least) They’re likeable because they’re relatable. And being relatable makes them relevant.
19. Share secrets. One of the great ironies of our social age is that at a time when everyone wants to share, people also want to know or access something first. Take your customers behind the scenes. Show them something they would never expect to see. Offer to tell them something they would never normally get to know.
20. Anticipate a demand or a trend. Recognise a need before it is a need. Surprise is one of the most-powerful attributes of likeable brands. You have to be able to look past all the research and make the natural, intuitive decisions that blow people away.
21. Don’t just market, find ways to entertain. Sometimes the most powerful way to sell yourself is not to ask for the sale. Share what they will like. Give people something to read, something to watch, something to listen to or think about – and frame why you are doing so in terms that relate to your brand.
22. Do things for free occasionally – but understand that doing so should serve to make the purchases feel more worth it. Again, explain why.
23. Keep everyone in the loop. Talk about what’s going on. Ask for suggestions. Invite people to get involved. State your support for something that aligns with your purpose.
24. Share stories – and encourage stories to be shared. It builds community and trust.
25. Be there in times of need, doing what’s right. People will judge your integrity on how you respond to situations of need. Do it because it needs doing – not to make a buck. Feel human. Act human. Put a human face to what you achieve.
26. Make people feel welcome. But don’t be afraid to tell them if they overstep a boundary or try to take advantage.
27. Treat your customers – but always give a loyal customer more than a new customer. You can announce rewards or not announce them, up to you. People can earn incentives or just receive them in spontaneous acts of kindness.
28. Celebrate what you sell – and who you sell to.
29. Help people plan ahead. Provide them with clear processes and ample help. Encourage them to make you a priority by giving them incentives to act ahead of need.
30. Thank people – and mean it. Say you’ll follow up – and do. Give people more than they expected and without them asking, because, actually, they’re entitled to it.
What have I missed?