Value determines the relevance and attractiveness of brands. This insight is true for both personal and business brands.
A brand is the sum of the experience consumers have when relating with a product, an organisation or a person. The intensity and relevance of that experience determine the brand’s overall likability. This has great commercial implication for sustenance in the long term.
Therefore a brand cannot afford to be hollow. Built into the brand’s core must be deep human attributes that resonate with the target market. This is where the question of traits comes in.
It should be seen this way. If your product or your organisation is a human friend, what characteristics (i.e. a way of behaving, a way of reasoning, a way of relating with others) would you want to see that friend exhibit?
Achieving that calls for strategic architecturing, an effort aim at building traits which match the expectation of the market. Levi Straus ‘rugedity’, Nike’s ‘inspiration’, and Mercedes’ ‘Class’, are all works of strategic planning. Unfortunately, this is where many businesses in Africa and Asia fail.
Most developing nations have businesses which have not taken the time to draw up cogent road maps into the minds of their target market. Hence they hardly can command premium like products shipped from somewhere else.
Products are not the same as brands. A product is anything targeted at a need; that product only becomes a brand when it provides unique experience and take a unique place in the mind of the users.
Consequently, it is the mind that must be appealed to. This ‘appeal’ is a function of connection. Connection precedes attachment. This is the highest level. It is the point where the consumers feel they can’t survive without the brand.
To arrive at this exalted market position the business has to put in som much effort. It starts with a near perfect understanding of the market: What is its state? What is missing in it, emotionally and physically? How can your business adopt a positioning that would provide a solution to the felt state of insatiate for real? How can you build and surpass expectations.
The preceding are no mere marketing questions. They are strategic questions. Strategic questions probe deeper.
Taking a strategic approach to brand building would advance the brand like a parent would approach raising a child for a favourable future. It is first about ensuring that traits that match the expectations of time and season are built into him or her.
Like Diana O’ Brien, CMO of Deloitte, said, this approach is ‘to get people to understand that everything we are on the inside will in fact show up on the outside’. She added, ‘so let’s try to make those two experiences the same; we‘re not perfect, but let’s at least have some aspirations about where we want to go and why we want to go there’.
That is how to build a brand – like having a sense of purpose, a sort of destiny. That is how the Peak Milk brand has endured by being ‘inspirational’. That is how Nike grew by making its shoes look like the only tools for makings dreams come true. That is how Apple rose from mere functional products to products built for self expression.
Apart from being strategic, it takes serious internal marketing to build a strong brand. That is the perspective of Diana O’Brien of Deloitte as mentioned earlier. A brand can be empathetic, considerate, luxurious, flamboyant, enchanting etc. This character will have to be drilled into the people that work for the brand and every communication and product must align with the select value.
How then do you build great value into your business and persona? Let’s take a human approach. The British, being overly conservative, would seem a logical example of value building and adaptation:
- Identify Purpose – More or less, your purpose for going into business or living would determine what you hold dear. It will also shape the choices you make. The British won’t choose to be less conservative soon. Why? The British always want to have a sense of control and self-dependence. It is what is driving ‘Brexit’ movement; it was the same trait that led to Britain’s conquest of colonies in the 1800s; it is the reason why London is a finance hub for the rest of the world. For every Briton, this won’t change easily. It has the same implication for organisations and individuals who, inevitably, would have to make choices regarding products, communication, recruitment, partnership, promotion, extension and more.
- Be Sensitive To Target – Winston Churchill, a former Prime Minster of Britain, said colonialism of the future would not be about taking over territories, but colonising the mind. He was right. That must be why Britain pulled out of India, Africa and many of its former colonies though not without violence. Today, Britain is still colonising the world – you speak English, you wear ties, you drink tea in a hot sun etc. They have grown the British culture to the point of attachment. British knew that was the appropriate approach for its future market. America sells innovation, Britain sells cuture. Organisations, in building and adapting values must have this sort of mentality of being sensitive to its target market. Likewise organisations must put their products in perspective, and plug into the utomost desires of the market..
- Build Relevant Values That Resonate With Target & In Tandem With Defined Purpose – London (city) and The Premiership (soccer) are two great British products that resonate with the global market. This is no happenstance. It is a result of strategic planning. London is multiracial and hardly is there a race that is not comfortable living there. Since the talk of ‘Brexit’ began, isn’t it amazing that most of the EU parastatal and businesses headquartered in London haven’t found a suitable city in Europe to consider for profitable resettlement? Frankfurt and Paris didn’t even come close. The same goes for The Premiership. Unlike the dull but skillful Primera Liga (soccer, Spanish product), The Premiership is like a vitamin to arouse action. It is fast and entertaining. Little wonder it is raking in revenue from other continents. Presently, its TV revenue from broadcasting is higher than any other league in the world.
- Leverage Your Value – No branding work can make any meaningful impact without communication and relationship. Ensure customers feel your value at every point of contact; that is the reason behind the concept of the ‘Experience Centre’. As well, brands will have to be media-active to win enough shares of mind and voice. It comes via events, advertising and many experiential activities and participation in trade shows. No one does Public Relations better than the British. You want to know why the BBC is more popular than the VOA. That is the reason. Britain puts itself forward albeit subtly always. Organisations must put themselves forward by creating meaning platform to engage the market.