Define your purpose
Why does your company do what it does? What is your company’s purpose? What does your company stand for? How is it different than the rest?
Of all the ways to engage a customer, communicating the brand’s purpose is one of the most important things you can do. You may be providing assurance, confidence, empowerment, or another audience need, but the “brand” purpose will fuel a customer’s loyalty if it’s aligned with their wants and desires. This can be difficult to nail down, but being honest with your team and clearly stating the company’s core values will clarify what your brand stands for and strives to be.
Another strategy to clarify your company’s core values and in turn, develop your brand, is to define the company’s “Unique Selling Points,” or USPs.
What makes your brand different from the rest? Your USPs need to be customer-focused benefits or qualities that directly affect the user or customer. These become key components of message strategy and brand development.
Be clear and concise – think about the audience.
Identifying your audience
Successfully branding from the ground up, promoting, or cultivating a clear strategy is nearly impossible without understanding the audience and clientele on the receiving end.
For budding businesses, this could be your dream audience. For veteran companies, you may have a gold mine waiting within your audience that you may be distanced from. Bridging that gap is crucial to the success of conveying your business’ mission and maximizing your brand’s positioning in a customer’s brain.
The first step in understanding your audience is to build a foundation by getting to know who they are on a demographic, cultural and emotional level. This helps develop a buyer persona for your potential customer. Here are some questions for your audience that are easily accessible through analytic software (Google Analytics is a great, free resource to take a peek at who is already engaging with your brand if you’re just getting started):
- What is the age range of this group of people?
- What is their gender identity?
- What is their ethnicity, race and cultural background?
- What is their education level?
- What is their religion?
- What is their economic status?
- What do they do for work?
- Where do they live?
- What is their marital and family status?
- Interests or hobbies.
- Personal and business affiliations.
These groups make your brand what it is. They are the ones engaging in your content, and following a unique buyer journey, leading them to buy your product or service.
Understanding the market and your position in it is the first step in establishing a strong brand presence. It is the foundation of all communications both internally and externally. This helps you develop a brand personality and voice that are aligned with and relevant to your audience’s needs and wants.
So, what does the customer want?
Determine what a customer absolutely has to have and compare that to what they need. What they need is essential because a brand must meet this necessity to even be in the conversation. What the customer wants taps into emotional desires and trumps logic and practicality. Appealing to a customer’s wants opens up a gold mine of creativity for branding and conveying messages.
Become their emotional savior with your marketing strategy and they become a committed advocate for the brand, willing to share their attraction to the brand with friends, family and network.
Put a plan together and formalize your discovery process — internally and externally — interviewing employees and customers. Don’t be afraid to talk to former customers and employees. If you’re willing to take the initiative to inquire into their perception of the brand, the insights gleaned from this can be extremely valuable.
Once you’ve collected the “data”, it’s time to assess the results and determine how best to start the conversation with your audiences.
At Workhorse we use a combination of individual discovery questionnaires, interviews and workshops to uncover the similarities and differences between brand and audience perceptions. Combined with market, industry and competitive research we look for alignments and gaps to help define the brand’s message hierarchy and develop a marketing foundation built on authenticity that’s sustainable and meaningful.
The most important step, after all of the research, discovery and “enlightenment” is to visually and verbally position your brand in the eyes of your target audience(s). It’s time to make it real.