If you're having trouble getting customers and prospects
involved in your brand, you're not alone.
The conventional methods for developing brands are so old-fashioned,
inward-looking and aspirational they don't fit with what's going on.
And what's going on is nothing short of a revolution in business communications.
In this new paradigm, conventional, inside-out branding methods
couldn't be more full of it if they were Porta-Potties at a Lollapalooza
It's a whole new world out there.
Products are no longer sold.
They are bought.
That's because your customers
and prospects now control not only the communications and information gathering
process, they pretty much control the purchase process itself.
As a result, they determine what constitutes value
in the things they buy.
Along with enabling speed, technology and connectivity, they're
also redefining value beyond products and services to offerings
that fuse both with information and emotional assurance to create new kinds
of brand equity.
What's wrong with this picture?
Yet with all the shifting, the way brands are developed hasn't changed.
You know the scenario: Brand consultants sweep in, interview
50 senior managers and everybody with a "c" in their title, four good
customers, no prospects and few if any front-line employees or stakeholders.
The net result is usually a logo, a theme line, a truckload
of PowerPoint printouts, a lot of incestual information and very little insight
into how the brand is or can be of value to different market groups and customers.
Oh yeah, the market
You remember the market? That's where they actually buy or choose not to
buy the brand. That's where the brand actually generates income flows and
long-term assets. And now that customers and prospects are in charge of the
purchase process, it's the source of brand leverage.
Beware of consultants bearing Band-Aids
Which is exactly why the old-paradigm approach to branding doesn't work
anymore in business markets. Because its communications output is so broad,
general and inward-looking it isn't relevant enough to customers'
and prospects' buying needs to resonate with them.
In fact, your customers' and prospects' needs have
about as much chance of being served by this old-paradigm approach as a loud
Texan does by a French waiter.
That's why the world has been treated to such compelling
business branding ideas as, "we work with you." Or how about, "behind
every company." And of course that highly distinctive, "innovative,
integrated solutions partner."
These are just few of the themes developed by conventional
branding approaches that we've been asked to make meaningful in some way
to the market.
So here's your first clue
If you've got to translate your stated brand promise to make it meaningful
to customers' and prospects' needs and values when they make a buying
decision, you've got a problem.
And when customers and prospects control things, you've
got a problem so deep, dark and black it could suck all the light out of Las
Vegas and still have enough black left over to provide a lifetime supply of
turtlenecks to the Yale English Department.
Whether you're building a new brand, repositioning an
existing brand or trying to make an old brand work better in a new business
environment, we have a suggestion.
Start with the market
Consider an approach that revolves around customer and prospect perceptions
from the very beginning. And then use that point of view to align employee expectations
as well as management's vision.
You can get an idea of how your branding efforts are performing
on these dimensions by taking our interactive brand self-exam.