by Scott Carpenter, CME | October 12, 2021
When you think of the great brand names in the world, they all have one thing in common: they deliver an emotional solution every time it is consumed that is bigger than its functional benefit. Think of Corona beer. You don’t have to be a beer drinker to understand its emotional value offering: instant vacation, beach, fun, friends… oh yeah, it’s a beer.
All too often companies fall into the sea of sameness – brands that look and sound the same – by only promoting functional benefits that any competitor can claim: green, metal, durable, flexible, quality, etc. When companies do that, it’s no wonder they underperform, lose market share, and even go out of business.
If you want your brand to rise above the clutter and noise of the sea of sameness, it’s time find your own Corona a-ha moment. Here are some tips:
- Conduct customer research.
Survey your customer database to learn about their brand experience with you. What end benefit does your product/service provide? How does it make them feel when your brand delivers as promised? How does your product help them beat the competition and what do they get from your product/service that they get nowhere else?
From this data, you will start to see your brand is much more than a piece of equipment to your customer. It provides them with so much more.
- Research the competition.
Take the time to review how your competition promotes itself on their website and in advertisements and external promotions. If you share a vendor with a competitor – such as a wholesaler – pick their brain about how the competitor views their brand and how others from the outside view them.
The key is to learn the commonalities of the competitive set so that when you develop your own brand position, you can compare it against the market to ensure it is a unique value proposition.
- Develop a brand ladder – also called a brand pyramid.
Use the above research to connect your product and brand attributes (what’s in for me) to the personal needs of a customer.
- The ladder starts at the foundation level of your brand – its physical features such as a liquid with electrolytes, symptom relief, shopping cart repair, etc.
- As it goes up a rung, it builds off of the previous rung with why that is important, such as it replenishes lost fluids and minerals.
- The third rung then builds off the second with what benefit it provides to the consumer experiencing it, such as it makes me play longer without cramping (which then moves the brand from company-centric to thinking like the end user).
- Finally, the top rung is your a-ha moment… the what’s in for me emotional benefit that increases the stature of the customer in the eyes of him/herself and their social circle, such as it makes me feel like a winner because I have a competitive advantage that you don’t.
- Build a visual storyboard with your new brand position in the center with key messages around it that validate the position.
While your brand ladder may produce an exciting brand promise to break out of the clutter, you must remember that the brand promise must be true and supported through the functional benefits of your product, service and company.
- Finally, great brands are great brands because every employee knows the vision and can share it with others.
Once you have your brand position and storyboard, train your staff on how you developed the brand’s tone and message, why you developed it and how they can communicate it to others. Providing the storyboard to every employee to hang in their office is a good place to start.
Great brands stand the test of time because they continually offer and deliver an emotional benefit that gives purpose to the end customer’s stature and a sense of place in their eyes. Your company can become the next great American brand over time by finding your true A-Ha moment, like great brands did before you.