The Most Effective Branding Is More About the Customer Than the Company
When my daughter was five years old, there was a farm stand we’d drive by that had a huge sign proclaiming, “Sweet & Juicy Peaches.”
I never pulled over to the side of the road to buy them. I was always on my way somewhere. I was too busy, you know.
But one day, we were in a Publix grocery store, and peaches caught my eye. I asked if she wanted some.
She looked at me like I was crazy.
“No, Dad. Those aren’t the sweet and juicy peaches. I want the sweet and juicy peaches!”
How Are You Positioning Your Brand in the Customer’s Mind?
The farm stand had done an excellent job positioning its peaches to my daughter. Its effective branding created a unique value proposition for what is essentially a highly commoditized product. And it did a better job at making that connection than a $35 billion grocery store.
As a marketing leader, how can you replicate that success? Conduct a value proposition workshop to determine the most effective branding position for your company in the mind of the ideal customer.
And then choose channels and craft messaging that will elicit a strong enough emotional response, so your ideal customer feels an attachment to your brand (and recoils when their dad even suggests buying another brand).
I’ll get to how to forge that deep connection with the customer in just a bit. But first, make sure that connection is based on a realistic evaluation of what your product can deliver.
Does Your Product Deliver on the Brand Promise?
Look, I’m a good dad. So even though I’m busy, I finally did pull over and buy those peaches from the farm stand for my daughter.
Those much anticipated peaches.
And what happened when my daughter bit into her first peach? Well, it turns out they weren’t so sweet and juicy, after all. And to this day, she is not a big peach eater, because she got burned. That brand did not pass the trust trial.
This is one benefit of holding a value proposition workshop before you go-to-market with your product and brand. By getting all of the key stakeholders in the room making decisions through a customer-first lens, you can make sure there is true value in your marketing proposition.
An accurate brand promise leads to more word-of-mouth marketing for your product, higher customer lifetime value, and ultimately, sustainable business results.
What Does Your Branding Say About the Customer?
A five-year-old girl isn’t going to pull her car over, whip out her wallet, and buy peaches.
I bought the peaches. And I didn’t buy them because I thought they were either sweet or juicy.
I bought them because my daughter was so passionate about their sweetness and juiciness that she was actually talking about eating fruit, instead of TV character-branded sugar bombs. And I’m the kind of guy who isn’t too busy to stop at a farm stand when my daughter is that passionate about eating healthy. I’m a good dad and a standup guy, don’t you know.
So at the end of the day, I didn’t buy into that farm stand’s branding. I didn’t buy into its story. I bought into my own story about myself spurred by its branding. Because I don’t care about a farm stand. I care about my self image.
Just like “Think Different” was never really about Apple computers, it was about the people who bought them.
It’s the reason my Nissan LEAF electric vehicle has a Zero Emission badge on the side. That badge wasn’t to inform me on the car lot when I was buying the car, it was for everyone around me to see that I’m a dude who is saving the world every time I hop into my car and drive to Barnes & Noble.
Nobody cares about your brand. They care about themselves.
The most effective brands leverage the brand impression to foster a conclusion, not just about the company’s value, but also about the prospect’s identity, according to Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and managing director of MECLABS Institute (where I work) in "Aligning the Brand With the Value Proposition Is the Most Powerful Way to Create Value Momentum."
So next time you’re working on a branding project and building a value proposition, start with the customer.
- What story does your ideal customer want to tell about himself or herself?
- And how can your brand play a supporting role in that story?
“We are all the heroes of our own stories, and one of the arts of perspective is to see yourself small on the stage of another’s story, to see the vast expanse of the world that is not about you,” said author Rebecca Solnit.
Be small in your customers’ stories.
Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS — digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.