After 25 years doing this branding thing (please, no “damn, you’re old!” comments), I’ve learned one irrefutable lesson about building a successful brand. I’ll call it Brand Lesson #1. A brand is not “what” you do. It’s what people believe about how you do what you do.
Confusing? Let’s take pricing as an example.
Despite what your customers may tell you (and they often will), it’s never about price. And I do mean, never! It’s about what customers believe about that low price (ie; “well, I believe it’s just as reliable,” “I believe it’s made with the same quality,” or “I believe paying the lowest price is going to save my butt with my boss.”).
Not convinced yet? Okay, let’s say a customer has to choose between two very similar competitors…they both sell themselves as a digital engagement firm. Go figure, eh? Well, both do customer experience marketing and have an array of online engagement capabilities. Both have good people who do it the right way. And both have relatively similar costs, etc. It’s a toss-up. Except…
Salesperson 1 sells the facts about his company. Nothing more, nothing less. He believes that’s all the client really wants. But salesperson 2 sells the facts wrapped in a story…the story he pitches is that he can help his customer be wildly successful online because he knows how to take them from point A (what hasn’t been working) to point Z (what does work; “by turning customers into soulmates”). It’s interesting, it’s memorable, it stands out from the facts. It’s something compelling to believe in.
The customer has listened to both pitches. Now he has to choose. I think we can all agree that, most of the time in this situation, salesperson 2 has increased his odds of being chosen. Selling your brand like this is just as important as making sure your salesperson showers before a big pitch. I guarantee you that guy just decreased his odds of selling his product or service.
Obviously, I’m over-simplifying to make my point. There are so many variables at play (like the salesperson’s bad hygiene) in the selling process. But the mistake is to think that the customer only wants to know the facts…the what. In fact, what they really want to know is the how (“a unique approach to creating customer devotion”). And they want to believe it.
Give ‘em that…consistently and truthfully…and you’ll be on your way to building a formidable brand. No physicists required.
Class, discuss. I’ll be in the teacher’s lounge.