Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
OUR BRAND — THE INDISPENSABLE PLACE WE HOLD IN OUR CUSTOMERS’ LIVES
Simply, our brand is three things:
- the promise we make to our customers
- how well we keep that promise
- the resulting customer perceptions that either build trust and loyalty, or feelings of dissonance
Customer perceptions will be shaped by their direct experience with us, what their peers say (including reviewers on social media and online reviews), and reporting from the news media. It all depends on how well we live up to our promise.
How do we identify that indispensable place in our customers’ lives? By learning what they need that isn’t being solved, and defining the seven essential components of our brand around that.
THE SEVEN ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF OUR BRAND
Within four functional categories:
A. MARKET POSITIONING
This is the Who, What, How, and Why of what we offer. These come together to form our Brand Promise.
1) WHO WE SERVE
This is our specific target audience — the people who truly need and will truly benefit from what we’re offering. The more specific we are in defining our customers, the better able we are to understand and meet their unique needs and wants.
2) WHAT THEY NEED
What is a critical and unmet need we can solve for those we aim to serve? Why is this need so important to them?
3) HOW WE SOLVE THEIR NEED
This is what we offer physically, and the tangible and emotional benefits this delivers to our target market. What can we offer that solves our customers’ critical and unmet need?
If the need we solve is also solved by competing offerings, how can we differentiate our offering to make it genuinely unique and desirable over other offerings? Which takes us to:
4) WHY WE’RE THE BEST SOLUTION FOR THEIR NEED
This is our customers’ reason to believe the unique value we’re promising them. Why is our offering better at solving our customers’ need than any other option?
5) HOW WE’LL COMMUNICATE OUR BRAND PROMISE
We must present our unique value in a distinctive, meaningful way that clearly differentiates our offering, resonates not only logically but emotionally with our customers, and makes purchasing from us the obvious choice.
We must also meet our customers where they are, delivering the right message through the right channels at the right times, to the right people.
6) HOW WE’LL DELIVER ON OUR BRAND PROMISE
This is our product delivery strategy. How will we build and deliver our offering, and how will we ensure customer satisfaction? How will we consistently deliver the value we’ve promised? Will we meet or exceed our customers’ expectations? Will we delight our customers? We must be operationally prepared to consistently make good on our brand promise at every touchpoint.
7) HOW OUR CUSTOMERS SHOULD THINK AND FEEL ABOUT OUR BRAND
Do customers understand what we’re offering them? What do they think and feel when they encounter our brand? Do we make them feel happy? Do they love us? Are we an essential part of their lives? Do we consistently fulfill their expectations about our brand? How would they describe us to others?
Ultimately, our brand is not what WE say it is, but what our CUSTOMERS think and feel it is — based on the totality of their experience with us. If we want our customers to perceive our brand in a certain way, we’ll have to earn it.
Every. Single. Day.
Ron Marcus is the principal of Grow, a brand and marketing consultancy for small businesses and nonprofits. He’s been helping businesses and nonprofits create and live authentic, successful brands in service of people for thirty years.