As a Brand Strategy Pro, I will give you the why and the how of thoughtful branding that will bring on levels of success you didn’t know were possible.
Branding is widely thought of as logos and slogans. Yet, we find ourselves attached to brands because it says something about who we are. For example, a mother, in a single income family with many mouths to feed, values her ability to save money because it says to others that she contributes to her family and she’s smart for being thrifty. Because of this, she proudly shops at Wal-Mart and lets her friends know when she got a great deal there. Or, think about a single, up-and-comer in her career, fitness addict; she values her outward appearance and wants to be seen as someone with an aspirational life that makes all those no-carb, vegan days worth it. She only buys Adidas shoes because that’s what her favorite celebs wear and they happen to be good for her runs and training sessions. And, she mostly shops at Nordstrom with every intention of growing her designer bag collection. She believes that her fancy, nearly out-of-reach for the average girl, brands (that she posts on Instagram) are going to make all the girls want her abs and her bags.
We are currently in an era where consumers are in the drivers seat. Products are created to solve people’s problems, the buyer’s decision is heavily influenced by the vast amounts of information available just by turning on their phone and competition is more visible than ever before.
So why do brands fail and how can you overcome these mistakes?
Let’s breakdown the first point – products need to be created to solve people’s problems. The truth is, this isn’t always the case. Some people create products for themselves and not for a customer. Some products are created and actually cause more problems than they solve. Some products even just look good as part of the product suite and has no other purpose. I used to work for a company where the product managers just built stuff then came to the marketing department and said “here’s my product, just send out some emails and put it on social media.” Then, when it would fail, the product department would ask marketing why we didn’t give it enough exposure. The answers: (a) because no one wants it, (b) because it doesn’t match our brand values, or (c) because it breaks.
What every great business owner needs to know is that your product and your consumer need to align 100%. Otherwise, your product will fail. If not at first, it will eventually. This is because you didn’t build a product atop a brand mission that truly solves a customer problem. If you have no customers to solve a problem for, then you won’t have any customers.
Take a look at Blue Apron. They identified a consumer-centric problem in the food industry; the food system itself is complicated and making good choices for the family can be difficult. Their solution was to take the complication out of providing healthy, home-cooked meals for families by curating recipes and healthy food sources then getting it right to the customer’s doorstep. It’s done with customization and simplicity throughout the entire user experience.
The internet gives buyers information they seek in a matter of seconds. My husband was once shopping for a Lexus and while he was with the dealer, he had the power to look at competing deals, use the information to ask questions, and negotiate an amazing deal.
Information is so powerful and it’s more easily accessible than ever. We have Yelp to find and decide where we should eat next. We have Amazon to comparison price shop. And, we get recommendations from friends on Facebook. This means that every part of your business is available for a buyer to see, read and decide — this includes your website content, user reviews, recommendations, social media posts, etc.
Because this information is so powerful, you need to thoughtfully tell a compelling and true story about your brand as it goes on display in the digital world. If the way your brand’s story unfolded online didn’t match your values and mission, you could be bringing in the wrong clients or people could be confused and decide not to buy. If you left your brand story to consumers and took a chance on what they wrote about you on the internet, could you really trust that if you haven’t even figured it out yourself?
Competition is fierce! But, that’s actually because it’s more visible than ever.
Before social media, we were limited in knowing where we could order pizza from. Now, I can order Thai food instead of pizza, if I wanted. And, on the same app. Thanks UberEats!
I’m going to say something you hate hearing — so what sets you apart from the competition? So many times businesses just stop trying because they can’t seem to be getting it right.
If your competition pool is visible to the same consumer by doing a search for something like “life coach” or “how can I further my career?”, you will need to stand out with a unique brand story that can stare that consumer in the face and say, I’m it, there’s no need to look further.
Convinced that you need good branding now?
Here are some tips on how you can deliver a brand that will be successful
Some people call this “creating an avatar” or “creating a persona”. Whatever you want to call it, the focus should be completely on the customer. It’s their story. And, the goal should be to know them so well that you won’t get distracted. You’ll be able to tell your customer apart from someone else’s like you would twins or sisters. This will get you to know their core problems and from there, you can ideate on products or services to solve those problems. Don’t create an offering then hope it sticks. You’ll just continue to waste your time.
When you’ve gotten to know your consumer, you’ll also know where they get their information online. That’s where your story should show up. If you end up on multiple platforms like Facebook and Instagram, be sure your story is consistent. If you give an offer on Facebook, make that same offer available on Instagram. If you convey your brand as holistic on Instagram, be sure that same story shows up on Facebook or anywhere on the web if they were to search your name. And, the more content you put out there to tell your story, the less likely someone else can control that narrative for you.
Sure, competition is so heavy out there and you’re all in the same channels. But, there are other things that are happening – time zones, access to your network of people, you have your own unique consumer and you know them so well, your language is different, your visuals are different, customers can relate to you on a personal level, and you are not part of a menu. There isn’t just one chance for your customer to find you and buy into you.
Create a thoughtful, compelling and true brand story everywhere you show up, based on your customer and how you can solve their problem, and, trust me, you will succeed.
For more coaching on developing your brand, book a call with me. It’s completely free.