Brand identity and brand image aren’t interchangeable terms. Brand identity is your intent — it’s how you go about:
- Choosing your business’s name
- Designing its logo
- Using colors and other design elements in promotional materials, product packaging, and on the company website and social media channels to invoke an emotional response
- Crafting your business’s “voice”
- Training your staff on how they should greet and otherwise interact with consumers and potential leads, as well as with loyal customers
Your brand image is how well — or not so well — you complete the above.
Harnessing your brand identity is a must for businesses looking to reach new customers and generate positive exposure. Did you know that your business’s phone number plays a role in your brand identity?
Or that a dedicated toll-free number is another strategy you can apply to your outbound campaigns?
Types of Toll-Free Numbers
Having a toll-free number to call your prospects and customers from (and that they can also call you on) is a step in the right direction for your brand identity. You can personalize the number so it somehow correlates to your brand. For instance, a fictional clothing company with the brand name ElevateU could brand its toll-free number as (800) ELE-V8U2. This number has several great qualities:
- It’s a play on the brand’s name, ElevateU
- It’s easy to remember
- It pulls the consumer into the brand story — ELEV8U2 (Elevate, you, too!)
But not all toll-free numbers are created equal. There are multiple different types of toll-free numbers for businesses, but the two main options are Domestic and International. The right toll-free number for your business depends on what your goals are. Why do you want a toll-free number?
Let’s take a look at the differences between domestic and international toll-free numbers.
- Domestic toll-free number (DTF). A DTF has the familiar 800 prefix code most commonly recognized as a toll-free number. Numbers with an 800 code are specific to the country of origin — in other words, callers must be located within the country the phone number is assigned to.
- International toll-free number (ITFN). An ITFN, while also country-specific, can be called from anywhere in the world. Because these numbers work internationally, an ITFN can be forwarded anywhere in the world, also.
Benefits of Toll-Free Numbers
Think of a toll-free number as real estate for your dialing presence. It is a permanent location that your customers can use to contact your company. Having a toll-free number can help because it:
- Establishes your company as a nationwide entity
- Enhances customer experience
- Builds your brand equity
Customers are more likely to trust and therefore interact with a toll-free number.
An incredible 86% of consumers view businesses with an 800 number as better companies. This in itself highlights why having a toll-free number is so important, and why, once you’ve secured your number, you must protect your caller ID information. STIR/SHAKEN regulations and other robocall and call spoofing mitigation efforts have recently added 800 and other toll-free numbers to the Calling Number Verification Services. This is good news for businesses across the country.
But not all businesses need an 800 number. However, they do offer benefits for some businesses. Customers from outside your local area can call you for free, which saves them money and can boost your sales.
Using a vanity number like the clothing brand example earlier, or a phone number with a memorable pattern, are great ways to use a toll-free number as an addition to your marketing strategies.
Getting an 800 number requires a service provider that offers toll-free numbers. Some providers specialize their offerings and can help you with other aspects of phone service, such as allowing customers to text your toll-free number or how to get insights into your business by analyzing call information. However, when acquiring a toll-free number, it is essential to work with an authorized RespOrg especially in the post-STIR/SHAKEN ecosystem.
Importance of Using an Authorized RespOrg
A RespOrg was coined in 1993, standing for “responsible organization.” Essentially, these organizations manage toll-free databases and assign numbers to consumers. This allows the buyer to use any service provider they wish with their toll-free number. Many RespOrgs are not carriers; however, some are. Using a trusted partner can help improve your standing in the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication process.
If you want to port an 800 or other toll-free number, you have to request the number’s current RespOrg to transfer its ownership of the number to the new carrier you want to partner with. Only the RespOrg with current ownership has the right to change ownership or release the number from their organization.
How RespOrgs Help in the SHAKEN Process
Many businesses rely on the ability to use a toll-free number for customers as a calling party. It’s important that these phone calls are routed correctly through the networks now according to SHAKEN regulations and framework. ATIS-1000093 is the ruling that applies to toll-free numbers within the framework.
Part of the SHAKEN Governance process requires STI-CA (Secure Telephone Identity Certificate Authority) and STI-SCA (STI Subordinate Certificate Authority) to jointly and essentially authenticate the owner and origin of a phone number.
When working with a RespOrg, these act as STI-PA (STI Policy Administrators). Therefore, an authorized RespOrg offers increased trust in your calls, so companies can rest easier and feel confident in the calls they place. Plus, Administrators help ensure STIR/SHAKEN compliance and improved attestation ratings for businesses
Part of increasing your brand’s presence is abiding by compliance. If your calls are verified, your caller ID is more accurate for consumers. This helps to build confidence in your customers to answer your calls while also protecting your caller ID reputation.