Brand Matters: Are You the Real Deal?
I have always been a cheerleader for the underdogs. They just plain try harder. This is why I favor companies like Caribou Coffee over Starbucks, Frontier Airlines over United Airlines, Ben & Jerry’s over Breyers and Chipotle over McDonald’s. Not only do these “underdogs” try harder, but they also seem more comfortable in their own brand skins. They are original. They are daring. They are independent thinkers. They are the real deal.
Is your brand the real deal? I bet your customers know the answer.
Stand Out from the Crowd
As you look at the vast choices of products and services customers have today, few truly stand out. What are the authentic differences between the many companies jockeying for customers’ minds and market share these days? I’m at a loss when I look at retailers like OfficeMax, Office Depot or Staples. What differentiates Northwest from Delta or American Airlines? Or Barnes & Noble from Borders? There is very little originality.
What is authentically different between your offering and your top two competitors? If your brand is sandwiched blandly between others, it’s time to rethink both your brand positioning and your merchandising concept. Don’t bore your customers with this sea of sameness. They deserve better.
As you might guess, there is no formula for authenticity. Either you are authentic or you’re not. Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to living in a faux society, where entertainment is disguised as news, celebrities are disguised as heroes and Internet connections are disguised as relationships. And, yes, there are faux brands or transaction-based companies focused on themselves and short-term profits.
In “Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want,” authors Joseph Pine and James Gilmore propose that authenticity is a completely new management discipline, and they outline three axioms for authenticity:
1. If you are authentic, then you don’t have to say you’re authentic.
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.