Looking Outside, In: A Key To Building an Effective Brand

As odd as it sounds, building a brand is, ideally, an out-of-body experience. What I mean by that is…you have to put yourself in the place of your targeted customer to identify the ultimate benefit and attractiveness of your product or service. How effectively a brand brings those benefits to the minds of consumers is the direct measure of the effectiveness of your brand.

While there are many affirmative tasks in building a brand…the list of “do’s”…it’s usually the “don’ts” that inhibit an effective brand from being built. Many of these mistakes are common, and cross-cut all types of products, services, and even industries. For your consideration, here are two things to avoid while building a brand:

Failure to properly assess a market niche. I’m an info junkie. I remember the first time I used Google. It was like a miracle. This was roughly 15 years ago, and there were other Internet search engines available…but Google sorted its search results by relevance. That made Google an extremely efficient tool, as it still is today. So, if you were going to build a brand for your new Internet search engine, would you hang your branding effort on the efficiency of your product? Unless your search engine had some feature that made Google look inefficient, it would be a branding blunder to take Google on head-to-head. Because Google had filled the need for an efficient search engine, there is no available market niche for a product that wasn’t significantly better. Which leads to a question…what is it about your product or service that is significantly better than your competitors? If there is no answer to that question, you shouldn’t be trying to bring that product or service to market; but if there is an answer to that question, that customer benefit must be at the heart of your branding and your marketing messaging. Embrace that unique customer benefit, highlight it, and tout it…in your customer’s minds, that will be your brand.

Messaging and targeting are too broad. Unless a business is blessed with inexhaustible resources, focus and discipline are key factors in building the foundation of a brand, and then the brand itself. The classic marketing equation is: Awareness breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds preference. Preference at the point of purchase is the goal of an effective brand. But…preference among whom? The answer is…the consumers most likely to become your customers. When building a brand, have the discipline to devote your marketing resources in the narrow universe where your likely customers reside…and then dominate that universe as best you can. Make sure the messaging is focused on the unique customer benefit of your product or service. Do all you can to build awareness of that unique benefit. Eventually, awareness of that benefit takes hold, and then morphs into familiarity. And as we all know, a consumer is far more likely to purchase something with which he or she is familiar, than take a flier on something completely new.

The larger point is this: When a consumer looks at a product or service and its corresponding brand, the silent question being asked is: “What’s in it for me?” The challenge is to build your brand so your customers know the specific answer to that question…and that answer contains the unique benefit that only your product offers. The first step toward that goal is to remember…look at your brand through your customer’s eyes. Look from the outside, in.

This post was written by Program Director of NewsTalk 1130, Jerry Bott.

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