Whether launching a company or trying to expand brand awareness by new customers, it’s very important to be in touch with them.

Customers can provide the best insight from a perspective completely different from your own. As an owner or creator of a brand, you can often be too close to the company to make good decisions on behalf of your customers.

Before asking customers how you should build your brand, know clearly the direction you want to take. Do you want it to be serious or happy, secretive or transparent. No matter what you decide, you must be passionate about it above all else.

When you determine where you want to take your brand, ask your customers the following questions to see whether your objectives align.

Do you care about a problem that we’re trying to solve?

If your company is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t concern customers, they’re not going to pay you. It’s extremely important that you heed customers’ explanations of pain points that concern them.

What could my company do better?

Be honest with yourself when critiquing your products. Do they work? Are they the best you can produce? Where are you failing? Is customer service representing your brand well? Ask customers what you could be doing better. This often reveals answers that you wouldn’t expect to hear as an owner. Don’t be combative. Just listen carefully and prioritize customers’ concerns.

What’s the most important aspect of my product to you?

Perhaps your product has value in ways you hadn’t considered. Maybe people are more likely to buy it because it saves them time rather than because it’s less expensive. If that’s the case, you could raise your price and promote the value of saving time.

How has my company exceeded your expectations?

Always want to know what you’re doing well. Perhaps employees are overperforming and deserve a raise. If you know your strengths, continue doing what’s working while seeing whether you can duplicate that success in other areas. However, keep in mind the venerable saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

What do you feel when you think about my company?

You need to know what emotions your company evokes, good and bad. Maybe the answer is “no emotion at all.” But a successful brand evokes emotions and memories that translate to customer loyalty. For example, when Nike is mentioned, you might well think of athletes, workouts, a fast pace. If your brand isn’t evoking emotions or is evoking the wrong ones, work on engaging customers who’ll remember you positively.

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