During an overly animated marketing presentation with a sweat-dripping speaker, an interesting branding question surfaced: “When does your brand take a break?” The presenter stopped dead in his tracks. Took a deep breath and screamed, “NEVER”, before returning to attack his audience. Truly, a brand has several characteristics. It can be liked, or hated. It can be clever, or boring. An effective brand projects assorted human characteristics because its purpose is to speak for the business, person, or organization even in their absence. But, how does a marketer really know what their brand is saying?
Who You Are
An effective brand communicates for a specific business, organization, or person. The “who” may not be a literal person. For example, a celebrity chef has a brand that speaks on his behalf. The chef’s cooking style indicates a certain background. The media channel that broadcasts the show says something about the target audience. Yet, the individual is more complex than the brand. Customers are less interested in the person and more fixated on the image that the person projects. Raving fans want to identify with the celebrity chef because they want people to connect them to the celebrity’s good taste and personal style.
A brand speaks for a business such that it continuously sends information, and reinforce their market appeal. Social media images can flood worldwide audiences around the clock. Even inanimate businesses can project their personality under those circumstances. Essentially, the brand communicates an ongoing set of opinions, images and sound bites so that customers, fans, and pundits can piggyback on the attention the brand craves. A winning brand projects a personality that attracts attention leading to growth. The public then decides how they want to engage it.
What You Deliver
Personality is not the only attribute attracting business to a given brand. A well- executed brand communicates how well an audience values its benefits. At 7:45 AM on a Friday, a favorite coffee house delivers its signature brew just fast enough for an assistant manager to arrive at the office at 8:10 for an 8:00 team meeting. However, the assistant manager knows that the boss has publicly acknowledged his addiction to their dark roast. So, when the employee arrives at the meeting with two cups of dark roast, both he and the delighted boss understand that five more minutes of grace period remained because the boss now had his fix. Brand loyalty results from delivering on emotional promises.
Great brands deliver satisfaction, experiences, reliability, timeliness, durability, or cool points to loyal customers. Customers who ally themselves with such brands willingly pay for the privilege of that connection. Ask your favorite Nordstrom shopper. Such brands clearly tell buyers what to expect, then faithfully deliver it. The only part of the buying process that is more important than what a particular brand means, is when the customer experiences the brand doing what it said.
Acknowledging a brand’s personality is the first step for a marketer to harness its power. A meaningful brand’s character involves the ability to make an emotional connection to the customer. Notice how happy children look when entering Disneyland. The relationship has been established before starting the memorable experience. Can a customer imagine buying a Mercedes-Benz without expecting to be pampered at every dealership visit for scheduled maintenance? Successful brands communicate, then deliver. Whether through messaging or actions, the brand speaks louder than any singular purchase. Successful brands must communicate clearly AND deliver consistently, or accept being disconnected like an AOL email account.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC