Wednesday 02 April, 2014

Branding Basics – Connecting with Your Audience

Branding is complicated but it’s important for every business. Few people understand the exact definition of branding, much less how to go about doing it effectively. Branding is essentially the image of your company or products in the minds of your customers. It’s something intangible and totally psychological.

Here is a more in-depth definition from thought leader Seth Godin:

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.

So, let’s consider how you create these expectations, memories, stories and relationships in the minds of your audience.

Know Your Audience

First of all, know your audience. You really need to nail down your demographic and get inside their heads. In addition to demographic information such as age and gender, you need to consider psycho-demographics. How do the people in your market feel about themselves and the products they buy? People identify just as closely with the brands they love as they do with political or religious affiliations. The best way to get to know your market is through both direct and indirect market research.

Unique Value Proposition

You need to create a unique value proposition that communicates your brand to your audience. This UVP needs to tell them that you’re not only the best choice for them, but the only choice that uniquely and adequately meets their needs. You have to identify the strengths you have over your competitors and how they make you a match for your customers.

Clear and Memorable

A brand message needs to be clear and memorable. It should be communicated clearly in everything you do. For this reason, your branding needs to stick in people’s minds. Think of the brands you love and you’ll see that they successfully do this.

Consistency Is Key

Your branding must be consistent. One reason people love the brands they love is that they’re consistent. This trust is the key to building loyalty. Once you decide on your brand message, make sure it’s conveyed through everything you do. Don’t do anything that’s ‘off brand’ in the eyes of your customers.

Emotional Response

A good brand triggers an emotional response in its audience. This is why people not only like but love the brand. This is what motivates people to buy. One way brands do this is by emphasizing the perceived benefits of using their products. For example, a company that makes luxury sports cars doesn’t talk about the specs or high quality of their cars. Instead, the brand message is that by driving this car, you can loosen your tie and be young and wild. That hits the customer at an emotional level.

All in the Mind

The important thing to remember is that branding is all in your customer’s mind. It’s not about what you think, but what your customers think. Rely on market research and data from your customers, and always seek feedback to refine your brand image.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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