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.
A complete brand positioning statement would include the following:
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:
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.
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:
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.
While higher education is a very crowded market, there are some colleges and universities that have differentiated themselves in highly compelling ways. Here are some of my favorite examples of this:
Naropa University: Transform Yourself, Transform the World
The Naropa Experience: Perform in an Indian classical music ensemble. Write a thesis on creativity and social action. Take yoga for credit. Volunteer in a community garden. Study Tibetan. Spend the weekend at a meditation retreat. Intern at the Peace Jam Foundation. Conduct research on the nature of consciousness.
I have positioned five wealth management brands and over a dozen other financial service brands. Most people, when thinking about wealth management brands, think the target customer is fairly straightforward – anyone who has more than $250,000 or $500,000 of investable assets – individuals or institutions. And while most wealth management firms’ customers would meet this criterion, this is not the bulls-eye of the target.
Brands make promises and then they must keep those promises. Making the promise is easy. Keeping it is the hard part. One can make a promise with words. But it can only be kept through actions. Consider BP repositioning itself as an environmentally friendly brand with the “Beyond Petroleum” slogan and the bright yellow and green sunburst icon. BP supported this with a $200 million public relations advertising campaign designed by Ogilvy & Mather. It worked well until the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Then other actions came to light, like the environmentally controversial oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.
As branders, it is useful to understand the basic needs that drive human emotions and behaviors. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs addresses this, as does Artur Manfred Max Neef’s classification of fundamental human needs. Albert T. Poffenberger, Ph.D. devotes an entire chapter to “An Inventory of Human Desires” in his book, Psychology in Advertising, published in 1925.