The other day I had a moment of nostalgia and was listening to Fitter Happier, a song by one of my favorite bands, Radiohead. The song is about all the ways in which we try to make our lives perfect. And it got me thinking about branding and why we choose certain brands.
I often see companies revamp their logo, paint up the brick and mortar location if they have one, possibly highlight a few features or services and call it day for brand development. This is one way to communicate the brand but it's not enough, especially in a competitive market.
Competitive markets have essentially two types of companies: ‘first movers’ and ‘me too’ companies. First movers are the first to offer a particular product or service and me too companies offer the same or similar products or services but may improve the offering through efficiency, cost, or features. Companies with similar offerings may erode competitive advantages and if there isn’t a unique offering, it’s very likely that price will become the new battleground. And that’s not good for any business. It's tempting to think of a brand as a tangible thing but it's really intangible.
Essentially, a brand is a promise to the customer about the expectation of the product or service and the type of engagement they should expect with that brand. You could think of a brand as a conversation in which the brand says to the customer: “I’m cool and cool people hang out with me. If you hung out with me too, you would be part of the cool club, have lots to cool, like minded friends and your life would be AMAZING!” Or something like that….
Product and service features are important but in any given market people aren’t really buying those. They are buying who they want to be.
That's why emotional brand connections are important. Branding goes beyond the visual communication, although that is very important too. A strategic approach for branding and communications ensures that the brand’s tone of voice, content and even how your employees communicate with customers in real time is connecting with how and where your customers communicate.
Here’s another way to think about it. The commercial for an appliance brand that doesn’t explicitly mention the product's features but shows how it helps you buy time, so to speak.
Samsung's US campaign does a wonderful job of creating a narrative around an exciting, cutting edge brand that can help you to have a better quality of life.
What's implied that they can spend less time doing tasks and more time doing something that makes their lives better. Basically when brands make emotional connections through communication, they convince us to buy better versions of ourselves.
I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets. Find out more about me at www.royanndean.com, follow me on Twitter @royanndean and Linkedin.