What does ‘brand’ mean to you? The term often means different things to different people and whether you’re thinking about logos and colours or values and emotions, they’re all important factors to consider in building a brand.
Margaret Molloy, Global CMO of Siegel+Gale, defines brand as “a promise kept”.
This definition suggests that the aesthetic and logo ranks low in importance compared to the overall experience and interaction that a brand can offer.
We’re going to dive into all things brand including comparing some of our favourites, discussing experience, understanding the psychology behind it and explaining why it should be the main focus in 2020.
If you don’t have time to read right now, why not listen instead...
Patagonia vs North face?
The ultimate brand question for all the outdoor and activewear fans out there; Patagonia or North Face?
Both brands are very similar in the product they offer, who their target market is and the stories behind them. Seems like it should be a hard decision, right?
Wrong. Those that choose Patagonia are 100% confident in their answer. They justify their decision by suggesting Patagonia is as much a cultural movement as it is a brand. Customers respect their socially responsible approach, their values, morals and their strong purpose.
So when it comes down to making a choice between brands, in most cases it has nothing to do with the actual product. Instead, the decision is based on emotion and experience.
The value of the product, therefore, is not found in the product itself, but in how the product is perceived.
Our very own Richard wood used this finding to take to LinkedIn and ask his network who their favourite brand was and why. 90% of people provided replies that were all about culture and ethos. With only the minority focusing in on the actual product. Interestingly, several responses even cited people as their favourite ‘brand’ based on how they’ve made them feel. Check out the post here...
Creating an experience with brand
So if experience is what customers are looking for, how do we, as marketers, put it into practice?
We couldn’t write a whole blog about brand without mentioning Apple. With the world of tech exploding, Apple is rarely the best functionally and it definitely isn’t the cheapest. Yet they’re still the most popular. Why? Their brand.
They’ve spent years building a brand that people want to be a part of. Everything from their futuristic, no-till stores to employees who love the products incorporates brand consistency and emulates an experience you just can’t get anywhere else. And the fun doesn’t stop after the purchase. Their unboxing experience is designed to be exciting and make you feel special. And we’ve all seen the “Get a Mac” campaign that portrays Apple as the young, cool brand that people want.
A brand does not aim to reach potential customers logically but, rather, emotionally.
Similarly, brands in the food and beverage industry often use social media to create a brand experience for their audience. Innocent, Burger King and Wendy’s all use humour and competitiveness on Twitter to portray their brand personality. The result is millions of retweets, likes and comments and even those that don’t buy the products can still be part of the brand experience.
Within your business, you should aim to do this by creating an “unboxing” experience with your services. So much so that they enjoy the process of working with you so much that what you actually deliver becomes irrelevant.
The psychology behind the brand
You might think that you make brand choices based on facts, functionality and your needs. But research shows that consumers evaluate brands mostly based on emotions rather than information or facts.
Emotions are at the heart of all our brand choices and, whether we realise it or not, they influence the majority of our purchasing decisions.
There are many psychological factors that brands can consider such as the use of certain colours or music to initiate a specific reaction and emotion. But the main driving factor is identity and values.
77% of consumers buy from brands who share the same values as they do
For example, going back to our Patagonia example, people love the brand because they see themselves as socially conscious and they want other people to view them that way as well.
People want to be part of something and if your brand doesn’t resonate with the identity they want to emulate, its unlikely they’ll buy from you.
Use personal branding and people
Just because you have branding, doesn’t mean you have a brand. A brand should be able to stand on its own two feet away from the product and people associated with it. It should be recognised as an entity in its own right.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean your people shouldn’t be involved at all. Personal branding and team interaction is a great way to support the brand whilst adding a human element.
For example, here at Six & Flow, we use ‘Marketing Moments’ where the whole team posts and interacts on social media to promote and celebrate something we’re excited about.
Why is it important in 2020?
Brand building has always been important and it always will be, especially as consumer trust and experience is becoming more and more important.
You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 has been an uncertain year. Now isn’t the time for cold, de-personalised sales pitches. People want to feel reassured and secure.
One of the most effective and easiest ways to go about this is to speak to your existing customers. Ask them why they chose you out of all the options. Then use that to define your brand direction and emotive value. Now accelerate it. But be sure to show don’t tell. We know that actions speak louder than words so show your audience your values by doing things that reflect them, don’t just post them on your website.
Using content can reinforce your message and provide help to your community. Help people benefit from your brand experience through the awareness, consideration, decision, retention and advocacy stages. And even if they aren’t in a position to buy right now, they’ll remember in the future and you’ll be their first choice.
We can use the example of Dunelm to illustrate the power of brand during difficult times.
If they were to overwhelm their audience with 10% off vouchers, they wouldn’t get very far. People wouldn’t resonate with them as they wouldn’t be thinking about buying cushions and blankets right now.
However, if they instead sent out free cushions and blankets to NHS and key workers, it would resonate. Peoples emotions would take over and although they might not be in a position to purchase from them right then, the next time they did need home products, Dunelm would be their first choice. Because their brand reflects the values they want.
If you want learn more about brand building check out The power of trust and How to balance brand positioning in your conversational strategy.