What do you think a brand is ?
Is it a logo ?
A clever name ?
A legacy ?
Here’s what I think. Today, a Brand is a collective expression of principles, stories, relationships, and products that create a durable connection to consumers. A connection that strongly compels them to come closer, to engage.
SCENE: A branding Blue Sky session, in attendance a new CMO, reliably wonkish strategists, and disconcertingly stylish agency creative director.
CMO: “We need the brand to be compelling, to really signal to the demographic and create an impulse to come closer. What do you think ?”
STRATEGY WONK: “We need to define the brand pillars and show how authentic the brand is in embracing them.”
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: “We’re working on a new identity design that will be both beautiful, and just a bit playful. It’s going to reflect that authenticity.”
Some of you maybe find that conversation familiar. And not totally off base. However, over time, I have discovered something incredibly important about branding. It’s not enough to be authentic. If an encounter with a brand hasn’t inspired Identification from the consumer, made them feel part of a bigger thing, caused them to be willing to pay more, or better yet to tell their friends, then no brand value has been created.
It’s not enough in that case to be authentic. A brand needs to create resonance.
“I know what that feels like”
“I would like to look like that”
“That’s my kind of humor”
“That looks like something my friends would like”
“TAKE MY MONEY, I have to have that !”
When brands resonate, they create opportunities for identification. When we see things we relate to, or aspire to in brand messaging we resonate with the brand message, and the engagement becomes powerful and robust. We see a reflection of our values and priorities in the brand – And if we see them, our ‘tribe’ probably see’s them too, so we should spread the word. We want to connect.
This brand is “people like us”
How can brands do this ?
- Find an opportunity for emotional connection with your audience.
- Meet your audience where they are. What are their priorities ? Their goals ? Their aspirations ? When we start by joining consumers where they are, we EARN their attention.
- Create content for the target audience. Former JWT Chief Creative Officer Craig Davis once said, “Don’t interrupt what people are interested in, BE what people are interested in.”
- Try, Test, and Adjust. Resonance is tricky. Be ready to engage in a process of expressing, testing, and adjusting. Figure out how to market WITH your consumers, not AT them.