Marketing

Tribal Branding

by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward, Inc.

With declining trust in traditional institutions, people today are increasingly using brands and consumption to express their identity and signal their values. Tribes come together under what they imagine are a shared set of values or emotions. An astute marketer can often help the tribe to link those shared values or emotions to its brand and its products or services.

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But It Tells a Better Story With A Caption

Even a copywriter like me can understand the power of visual images in marketing. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But far too often, clients display stunning photographs of their work without captions. Why would you want to make readers guess at what they’re looking at?

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If you have experienced a decrease in your rankings and traffic since the 2013 Google Hummingbird Algorithm shift – you may have spammy links to blame.

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Want a fast, cheap and easy way to increase sales? Add customer testimonials to your website and marketing materials.

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I have written about creating “category-of-one” brands before. Most brands spend their time trying to increase their share of existing markets. They pursue many different tactics to do so, from innovating new product functions and features and offering price promotions (which erodes brand equity) to improving product quality and creating value-added services. Some even create highly entertaining ads hoping this will help them break through the category messaging clutter. The problem with these approaches is that they are incremental and most of them can be very easily matched by the competition.

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A complete brand positioning statement would include the following:

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Today’s successful brands almost always deliver customer benefits that are more than just functional. To gain insight into your brand’s values and its emotional, experiential and self-expressive benefits as perceived by its customers, have its customers complete these sentences:

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You may have seen the ever-growing number of photos showing up in Google search results. Google is allowing you to claim ownership of a website, blog or guest blog post and they will display your Google+ profile photo within your link.

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One can use the Internet to:
• Increase brand awareness
• Reinforce the brand’s unique value proposition
• Tell the brand’s story
• Identify customers and build lists
• Create a dialog with customers and potential customers
Here are the top 15 actions to take to build your brand online:

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We have been hired by a number of companies to move them from a brand position based on unique product attributes and features to a brand that is highly emotionally connected to its customers based on aspirational qualities and shared values. Some of these companies have adept brand management functions with rigorous quantitative research and analytics. Unfortunately, some of these companies also insist that we conduct quantitative research to discern statistically significant differences between how their brand delivers on a variety of product functions and features (and sometimes customer benefits) versus the competition rather that yielding to a process that identifies deeply held customer values through qualitative research and then links those values to authentic brand values through a more intuitive and exploratory strategic process.

In brand management, there is a time for quantitative analysis and there is a time for qualitative discovery.

If you want your brand to connect with people on a deep emotional level, qualitative discovery is the approach you want to take.