How to build a lasting Brand in a world fixated by tactics and short term measurables?
It’s a question that needs to be answered from the heart and true to what you are passionate about. I believe it begins with your Fight and in this article I outline 5 questions to help you uncover what your Fight could be.
Short-termism in marketing is undermining effectiveness – it boosts ROI but not profit growth. Brand building is a slower burn. It’s designed to drive a deeper, more emotional connection with a brand. For this reason, they are usually more memorable. Whilst the short-term effects of brand-building campaigns are more modest, the power is in the longer-term impact, where growth is driven steadily year on year.” From a report into Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era
The power and impact comes from longer-term thinking! You build Brands through critical thinking and creativity with an eye on the long term, not a quick fix. It’s asset led , contributing to the growth of your business in a way that has value long after you have exited. It’s like a legacy.
Meaning is the biggest asset your Brand can have
The historic meaning of a Legacy is a gift, usually a material thing, that’s handed down from one person to another. In creating a Brand, I think of its legacy in terms of our impact and effect on others.
‘I would like to be remembered as someone who touched a lot of lives, that is what I want my legacy to be.’
The same is true of Brands.
The reality is that you can’t sustain sales growth unless you have a meaningful brand behind it.
You may know that you have the best product or service out there, you’re doing a lot of stuff, you’re spending money on ‘marketing’ but at the same time it feels like you’re struggling to connect with your audience.
The outcome of having a Brand is something that would be missed if it wasn’t there – and a better commercial return over time.
The conversation here is about how you create meaning.
Meaning is the biggest asset your Brand can have.
We make about 10,000 decisions a day and over 90% of those are made subconsciously. Our brains run on auto pilot most of the time. We want to find ways to file things away. Brands which evoke strong emotions will always win. Research by the IPA showed that emotional campaigns are twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational ones.
Emotions create connections.
To get to connection, we need to know why we’re here.
Why does your business exist? A Brand needs to stand for something.
Vision, purpose and mission are words used all the time. The issue when it comes to Brands is when they are words not backed up by deeds. Businesses have jumped onto the purpose and beliefs bandwagon but unless it’s embedded into your Cultural DNA, the everyday actions and behaviours of your people, it’s just an empty promise.
If you’ve got a clear purpose that is understandable, relevant and meaningful to your target audience then you’ve got an advantage
Two things to bear in mind;
1) Be relevant. No point attaching yourself to a cause which has no connection with what you do, or why you’re in business. Sprout Social found “Relevance is key to reception. Consumers say brands are most credible when an issue directly impacts their customers (47%), employees (40%) and business operations (31%)”
2) Keep it real. People see through fake messages. They crave the real thing, unedited, raw – more human! And authenticity can generate real business impact. Cohn & Wolfe’s 2017 Authentic Brands report found 91 percent of consumers are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity via “purchase, investment, endorsement or similar action’
It begins with your Fight.
I use the word” Fight’ to express the compelling desire of your Brand. In the name of what are you prepared to suffer. As entrepreneurs we talk a lot about ‘doing what you love’, ‘following your passion’ but what does that actually mean? Interestingly the origins of the word ‘Passion’ actually comes from the Latin word, Pati, which means ‘ to suffer’. We know building businesses isn’t the easiest path to follow so lets make it worthwhile.
Lets have a fight we truly believe in and are prepared to stand up for.
So, ‘What is your Fight? In the name of what are you prepared to suffer?
By articulating your Fight, you’ll discover a way to emotionally connect with your audience.
Five questions to think about
To discover your Fight, start with answering these Five questions:
1) What is the change you want to make in the world?
Simon Sinek famously said” People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
People connect to the change you want to make, the idea that your business exists for something beyond that of making money, something bigger than yourself.
Brands like Warby Parker, Lush and Tom’s Shoes have a social cause core to their business and their Brand. Research reveals how brands that take a stand in the right way can turn potential risks into business opportunities. People want brands to engage in these conversations and communicate their values.
But it’s not only about social causes. Take Dove for example. They have a clear change they want to make – to help women develop a positive relationship with the way they look and raise their self-esteem. It makes their Brand relatable and people connect on a deeper, more emotional level. Dove is now the number one most trusted Brand amongst Millennials
2) How will that change affect people’s lives and make a difference?
The key thing when answering this one is to think about the emotional outcome and impact. What will buying your product or service mean to them?
What will they be able to be, do, feel or have that they couldn’t before?
We’re solving problems. And you need to communicate clearly to your ideal customer why your offering will make their lives better.
3) How will expressing your Fight motivate people to get behind you?
The success of any great Brand is inextricably linked to its culture. People are motivated when your purpose and values are shared. They believe in what you believe.
Zappos is a customer service company which just happens to sell shoes amongst other things.
What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture.” Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness
It is obsessive about customers and their staff are right behind it. Their turnover is low, people are engaged and happy and so they perform better. Part of the secret is their 10 core values which gives everyone a common understanding and language around what being customer led means. They pay close attention to every new hire they make. Their people know their job is to connect with customers and they are empowered and trusted to use their own judgement to do so. For example there’s no time limit on call centre calls and the longest has been over 10 hours!
4) What ‘s the story that will draw people in?
“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights
Everyone loves a great story. Your Story is like your opening scene, it’s what pulls people in.
Nike has nailed story telling. It’s based on the Hero Archetype and the battle we all have with ourselves. Its purpose is clear; to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. But it’s how it consistently communicates on an emotional level that’s so powerful. The Find your Greatness campaign inspired and energized all of us to find the hero within. The latest Colin Kaepernick ad talks to its future customers and takes a bold stand.
Consistency in messaging and communications magnifies the value of your Brand. A recent study showed communications increases the value by 13%
Your story is also how you came to be, and, in those origins, we find meaning.
Like Toms Shoes where the Founder Blake Mycoskie was travelling in South America & saw the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. “Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. One for One. He wanted to build a movement and use business to improve lives.
5) What are the fundamental beliefs you hold ?
Beliefs, values, purpose are all intertwined and like a good story each builds and supports the other.
Your Beliefs will ignite your Fight.
When it comes to building Brands one of the mistakes is that people don’t understand what drives and directs their behaviour. It’s our beliefs that determine what we do and how we do it. It’s these beliefs, when we are aware of them, that can reveal our true fight.
Every business has a set of beliefs, some good, some not!
To find our fight we need to uncover what they are. Spend some time with your team and maybe even your customers. And start making a list of what you believe in. If you were a political party what would you be standing for? Using the Dove example their Party might be ‘Self-esteem for women”
Your beliefs are your opinions, the things you hold to be true.
A great exercise to uncover your beliefs is to write a list for your Brand and Business to answer;
– We always
– We never
– We can
– We can’t
– We are
– We must
Then look at how those beliefs are supporting how you want to be perceived in your market and the experience you want your customer to have
In summary, if you want to build a brand and leave a legacy that touches lives, start with articulating your Fight. Have the strength and courage to back what you believe in. Give people, the right people, something to connect to.