In a brand workshop a few weeks ago I asked the question ‘why do you exist’ and whilst the session had gone really well thus far with free flowing conversation and feedback, this one seemed to have everyone stumped.
Some prompting followed but no progress was made so we moved on and agreed to revisit the question at the end of the session.
A little while later I talked to them about my thoughts around what makes a successful brand – how they are characterised by absolutely understanding why they exist and by effectively communicating their reason for being to their customers with unwavering, engaging consistency.
Many businesses are not fortunate enough to have truly unique and differentiated products so brand standout is key – and whilst in past decades the advertising mantra was ‘communicate what the product is’ and ‘do this in an engaging way’ this no longer works in our product and brand saturated society.
Today, a brand must engage first and then communicate what it is. If it fails to do so it will never get beyond saying ‘hello’ – a conversation with a potential purchaser simply won’t start.
Just as when we meet people for the first time we share ‘our story’, 21st century brands must also have their story. Whether they be new brands or legacy brands they must have a compelling story that resonates with their audience.
Creating the brand story starts with a precisely articulated reason for being and many established brands are learning for the first time that being able to communicate their mission and vision is key in creating a solid, effective brand rather than a hollow vessel in which few consumers will believe.
Culture and ethics are vitally important elements of a brand and it has never been more critical for the essence of a brand to radiate through every element of its marketing communication, staff and supplier relationships and customer interaction.
This presents a serious challenge to many large, long-established businesses however, as most of them have always been product centric and they’ve historically relied on advertising and price promotions to cement a relationship with their customers.
However, as many have found to their cost, in these enlightened times, consumer brand loyalty can be fleeting with many constantly seeking out the best deal and always buying on price. In this respect many traditional brands have been relegated to commodity status.
21st century consumers are both shrewd and savvy – and they instantly reject the ‘pseudo’ get up of brand relaunches, created to exude ‘family, natural and artisan values’, choosing only to purchase when these products are on price promotion.
And there is a significant cultural difference between the large multinationals where many staff are only motivated by their remuneration, and have lost sight of the aspects that they found interesting which attracted them to join the business in the first place – and a crowd-funded start-up where the team have most likely sunk all their personal savings into the venture and live and breathe every element of their business, products, service and customers with a deep passion.
Another challenge for the large corporates is who actually controls their brand?
Whilst the majority of companies will have brand guidelines and a brand book, many don’t do enough to convey and embed the brand ethos in their staff with few including an introduction to the brand within new starter induction programmes and as a consequence, few HR departments have true visibility of the guidelines and fail to take ownership of them.
This leads to uncertainty and disinterest and a business can quickly find itself having to defend its market position through price and promotional mechanics – massively undercutting the potential value of the brand whilst it finds itself trading rather than leading.
So how do great brands do it?
They forensically understand their audience, the market dynamics, where the brand is now and where it’s going to be in one, three and five years’ time, what is happening competitively and what is happening culturally. These are brands that people believe in because their owners do, and this resonates in every aspect of the brand.
Defining the reason for being is critical therefore and gives the business purpose and direction within a complex and ever changing society.
By doing so a brand will extend beyond its’ beautiful packaging, it will have an emotional resonance, a voice and a personality – equities that consumers both recognise and will pay for, and critically, that build brand loyalty too.
For more information about how I help my clients launch new products take a look at Food Brand Strategist.
And take a look at BoomBod as an example of my work.
If you’d like to explore how I can help you with your new food product launch, ping me an email so we can schedule a call.
Call: +44 (0) 207 205 2998 or email today for an initial chat.