“Within every brand is a product, but not every product is a brand.”
This iconic quote by David Ogilvy, one of the founding fathers of marketing and advertising, still reigns true and is perhaps even more relevant in today’s era of commoditized technology companies.
The trouble is, most companies believe the product is the brand, or the brand is a logo - I believe this is a backwards approach. Furthermore, most marketers focus too much on competing in the “four Ps” — product, price, place and promotion — but they end up relegating the two most crucial Ps to an afterthought.
The two Ps I’m referring to are position and purpose. These make up your brand and the story your customers connect to. And that connection is key.
Your position and purpose, or in other words your story, need to be developed alongside any product or service — it’s the differentiator in a highly competitive, saturated marketplace. These also become your company’s guiding star.
Today’s consumer does business with a company in part because they like the product or service, but mainly because they can get behind what that company is about. They are buying an experience, not a product. Storytelling, through purpose and position, allows you to get into the heart of your customer.
Your Brand is More Than a Logo
Sure, the logo and color scheme are key components, but they are only one piece of the your brand puzzle.
A few years ago, Bloomberg published a list of the Top 100 most loved companies, based on research conducted by APCO Worldwide. And, surprise… what earned these companies ‘most loved’ was that they built “a strong, enduring emotional attachment with customers.”
Turns out it’s that feeling that compels us to do business with a company and spawns brand loyalty. Let’s take a modern day example. We all know TOMS is more than just a shoe and sunglass manufacturer. They’re purpose is to provide some of the basic necessities — shoes and eyeglasses — to children in need. This commitment to social good is what created a global mass of TOMS fanatics. These loyalists want to be a part of positive change and purchasing a pair of shoes provides them that experience.
Every element of TOMS branding tells the story of this commitment to social good and invites consumers to be a part it. From their minimal packaging, to the note imprinted on the inside sole of the shoe, to the heart-warming stories featured on the website — they create a feel-good experience at every customer touch point.
Chapter One: Start with Purpose
“What’s my purpose?” It’s question we’ve all faced at one point or another. And as important as it us for us to find our personal purpose, it’s as equally important for your company. A brand’s purpose is a definitive statement about the difference it is trying to make in the world.
Why does your company exist?
Don’t be afraid to aim high on this. Be bold. How do you purport to change the world? This is larger than the company vision statement, but be careful, it shouldn’t be abstract or unattainable.
One way to determine your purpose and your story is with this exercise:
Every day at [your company] we _________(what do you do everyday when you come to work?) because we believe ________. What this means to you is__________(what this means or provides to your customer, investors, etc.).
Get your team involved here. Bringing multiple perspectives to the table will help you identify how your employees, sales and marketing team, designers, and executives perceive your company.
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Chapter Two: Establish a Solid Position
Your company’s position is the external side of storytelling. Developing a proper positioning statement is like drawing a line in the sand and saying, “This is who we are, and this is why you should love us.”
What does your company do? For whom do you do it? And how? Why are you better than the competition? Proper positioning should, at the very least, answer these questions and help ensure you always win, especially in a crowded market.
An effective positioning statement allows you to communicate the problem you are solving, how you lead the pack, and why anyone should care — whether you are talking to a potential investor or a customer.
Here's a formula for writing a first draft of your positioning statement, and it's incredibly tactical. Obviously, you might want to spruce it up or tweak the structure over time - but focus first on getting the basics down. If you can't write your this statement for your company in under 3 mins, you have some work to do
We use this formula every time that take a company through our branding exercises:
[your company] is the leader in _________(your category/industry) that provides _________(this benefit) to _________(your target customers).
Unlike _________(competitors x, y, and z), our company provides _________(your unique differentiators) that our competitors can't provide.
The Epilogue: Bringing it all Together
Think of your company’s story as the promise you are making to your customers, and the voice and personality through which you win them over. The story sets the tone for the experience you are about to provide that customer.
Some companies that are executing this well include Slack, Trello, Mailchimp, Uber and our generation’s golden child, Apple. They each made conscious decisions around their brand to weave their storyline throughout the product — from the inside out.
Slack, the popular messaging platform, differentiates itself with a witty and endearing tone that are apparent throughout their website, marketing video, and the messages that display as it’s loading.
Mailchimp has a similar approach with the messages it displays as you’re preparing to send a campaign, and with the giant “Huzzah!” that appears after you’ve sent it. They even made a small batch of monkey hats for cats. Why? Who knows. But it was in line with their story, and it’s those little Easter eggs that their customers have come to love about them.
Siri is another great example of hooking users with hidden gems. Just ask “What is zero divided by zero?” and you’ll see what I mean. That attitude, voice and tone was a purposeful decision made to encourage usage and affinity to the brand.
New startup DUFL also invites its users — business travelers — to a high-end, sort of 007 or Mission Impossible experience. This is seen in their iconography in their app, the carefully selected type of packaging they use, and even how the animations play in the app.
Through our experience we know that you have to properly articulate your position and purpose to win in your market. You must create a story that emotionally connects with your customers and influencers and drives adoption. If you aren’t winning in these areas, it’s time to revisit your story.
Establishing that emotional connection is key to not just your product’s success, but your company’s longevity. The most successful companies today and in the future will be those that use their brand to own their place in the market.
Remember, too, the first interaction a customer or stakeholder has with your company is typically through your product. How could you not consider brand during the development of that product.
To learn more about Tallwave's branding services, please visit: http://tallwave.com/services/positioning-and-branding/
Written by Robert Wallace