The way your brand is perceived by a target audience may be the single most important factor when it comes to success in business. In today’s world, traditional brand strategies are obsolete. It’s a whole new world out there, and we’re here to help you jump start positive change in your business through a better branding method.
Be the Guide, Not the Hero
It’s time to develop a new mindset when it comes to brand positioning.
We should view our brands less like this…
…and more like this.
Here’s what we mean. One of our favorite podcasts features Donald Miller, a brand strategist who developed a theory of viewing your brand less like the hero and more like the guide. As brand owners, we aren’t here to save the day and get the credit. Our focus should be to empower our customers to be the heroes in their own lives. Think of your favorite movie heroes, like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars or Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Each of these heroes face challenges like self-doubt, lack resources, or need to polish their skills in order to achieve greatness. They each have a guide, like Yoda or Haymitch, whose role is to remind them of their potential, train them, empower them, and lead them to their desired goal.
Think of it this way, how can you help your customers achieve their deepest desires in life? Start by letting them know, “We understand you. We care. We feel what you’re feeling. And because we care, what we offer can help you.”
Remember Buyer Behavior is Emotionally Driven
This ties in with the fact that the reasons people buy are driven by emotion. They choose a brand for how it makes them feel, whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s not so much about logic, price or features, those only justify our emotional decisions once they’re already made. This is true for both big or small purchases. Whether we’re buying a sandwich or a house, emotions drive our decision making.
How does what you provide make your customers feel? Beautiful, successful, fashionable, popular, competent, inspired, at ease? For example, I recently purchased a new MacBook Pro. Sure, when I told my family and friends about my purchase I initially talked about how it had more memory, faster speed, and a great warranty. But really, I am an Apple lover and will always spend more on Apple products simply because I love the brand. Apple’s clean, minimalist design is exactly what I’m trying to achieve in my own life. Apple is a source of authority and knowledge in the industry. I trust them. I like how their products look and the vibe it gives off when I use them.
Focus on an emotional connection first and describe the details (function, price, etc.) second, like Apple does here. It’s our natural tendency to focus on money first, so this will require a change in thinking. But if you work hard to foster an emotional connection and loyalty to your brand, consumers will be willing to pay double or even triple the amount for your product. Just like I was for my MacBook Pro.
Put Yourself in the Mindset of Your Consumer
Think about what their day to day is like. What sort of obstacles might they face? What brings them joy? How can you fill the gap between where they are and where they want to be? How can you be a vehicle for their success? You have to know your audience. Not just as a number on a spreadsheet, but actually know them, individually and collectively.
This requires us to break away from the tendency to only deliver sales pitches or descriptions of features. Our message must be emotional and authentic. Treat your brand as if it’s a living, breathing entity with a unique personality that tells a story. Every decision you make affects that persona and adds a page to that story, whether positive or negative.
In short, branding is not so much what you persuade your audience to buy, but what you help them to become.
Share Your Vision
To successfully do this, we must add real value. There is no room for counterfeits. We have to actually believe in and be passionate about what we do. We must not disappoint our audience, but deliver what we promise and more. They don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
Unite and rally your entire team behind this vision. Make it a part of your business culture. Develop a clear, simple mission statement and communicate it often. Set policies that are consistent with your vision. This vision should be a filter through which all other decisions in your business are made. Ask yourself, is this consistent with who we want to be as a brand? If not, reevaluate.
Add Real Value
Everything you put out, whether it’s web design, graphics, social media content, blog posts, video, email campaigns, or even how you appear in search engine results, communicates who you are as brand. You must curate and create valuable content for your audience. Doing so requires great thought and effort but adds personality and credibility to your brand like almost nothing else.
Avoid the tendency to mass produce content with a “buy this” attitude. Depending on where your listener is in the marketing funnel, this could actually hurt you. Instead, have a voice in conversations you want to be a part of. Share and discuss issues bigger than your brand and more important than your bottom line. Help your audience rise to the occasion and give them the tools they need to do so. Educating your audience about different topics or issues in your industry awakens their sense of need. Then down the road you can show them how what you offer will help them overcome these hurdles and continue on the path to who they want to be. Enhancing their perceptions will prepare them to receive what your brand has to offer.
Output a steady stream of useful content. Offer constant care, not sporadic, empty interactions. Consistently feed your listeners what they need. Nourish and inspire them. Doing so will prevent them from walking and make them loyal for the long haul.
Adapting these methods will help you literally breathe new life into your brand.