We’ve heard it all before…well, most people in the marketing, that is.
“People don’t buy from companies. People buy from people”.– Every branding expert known to mankind
And that’s the truth.
I’ve worked with multiple branding and digital marketing agencies in my lifetime – as a writer, a consultant, an SEO ‘expert’, or just as a website developer.
During my time working with them, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most talented, experienced, and knowledgeable people in the world.
They’re hard-wired and driven. They wake up to the ‘Rocky’ music playing in the background. At least, that’s what I imagine them to be.
Normal People Focus on Results, KPIs, and Reports.
This is not to say that branding experts and consultants don’t have KPIs. Theirs are just a little different.
The strategies employed are often motivated by creating an image of the company and its people.
Contrary to popular beliefs, branding consultants don’t pluck ideas out of thin air and conjure out grandeur ideas.
Much of what they propose is based on the realities of common people like you and me. They develop grand visions, but they’re based and rooted in reality.
The other thing I’ve noted is that they managed to debunk my idea of how branding consultants base their proposals and ideas on popular opinion…trends, even.
No. They base it on evidence and data.
What I liked to see is when the team deliberated hours upon hours, days upon days, on how to create a strong differentiator. A price war is for people who are not keen to develop their brands.
That’s actually where I learned about creating customer personas, mapping out structured customer journeys, and monitoring competitors with an eagle eye.
The Dried-up Tested Method of Branding a Company
I’ve written thousands of company profiles. And even more (ashamedly so) ‘about us’ website pages.
We all stick to the (more or less) same following formula.
- Our team of experts are the best in the market
- Trust and diligence are what drive our business
- You are our number one priority
- Excellence is the name of the game.
- Our customer service is top-notch
- We have been in the market for XXX years and have helped our customers make millions, if not BILLIONS.
- YADA, yada, yada, yada, yada….
Think a Little Further a Deeper About How You Connect With Your Customers
When I start mapping out a strategy, I think about various things.
- Problem statements – what are the problems you plan to solve for your customers
- Action plan – month by month, week by week. What can you do to achieve the end goal?
- Hypothesis – Working on a hypothesis gives us the chance to explore, experiment, and pivot as needed. Honestly, nothing stays the same for too long. The long-term brand story may remain the same, the actionable items are dependent on reviews, analysis, and success measures.
- Risk Dependencies – No branding exercise is without risk. By listing out potential gaffes while running campaigns and churning out branding exercises, your eye is always on potential problems.
- Competitors – Of course, no branding exercise can be complete without an in-depth look into what our competitors are doing. What we are trying to do is not to copy them (yes, we can do that but…carefully, please). We want to rise above them and get ahead.
On the client front, branding experts are always thinking about:
- Our customers’ problems, difficulties, and issues. How are we going to solve them TODAY?
- What are talking about and where are they holding these conversations?
- What are the competitors focused on and their speciality? Do we want to go head-to-head with them? Are we better? How do we get better?
- Are there untapped areas we can forge ahead? If yes, when. If possible, NOW.
What Are The Successful Branding Differentiators?
What do you look for when you’re checking out a new company? Think about that.
Do they specialize in a particular industry…say, warehousing or eCommerce?
Are they niche? Do they provide only food supplies to vegan restaurants?
Do they focus on solving the problems experienced by baby boomer business owners? Or Gen X or Gen Z, the likes.
Are they offering you options that other similar companies don’t?
Do they have a face to attach to the business? Think along the lines of Gary Vee. No doubt about it, he is the most convincing, persuasive face of his agency. Is there someone on social media, and you find them making total sense? They’re called visible experts. Their appearances and speeches are often crafted by experts behind the scene.
The Call for Visibility from the Man (or Woman) on Top
The need to put a personality behind the brand has changed the marketing landscape so much.
It’s no longer enough to have an illustration of a red-haired teenage girl to indicate it’s a Wendy’s you’re visiting. Of course, we’re also talking about brands like Quaker Oats and KFC.
A survey done showed staggering numbers. 91% of people believe in the power of social media. That’s not the end of it.
70% of consumers felt more connected (and loyal) to a brand if the CEO was active on social media.
Gone are the days when CEOs got to hide in their penthouse suite overlooking a beautiful beach.
Many CEOs have had to don their best outfits, work with scriptwriters, practise their poses and poise in front of the camera, and become somewhat of a spokesperson for the companies they work for.
Company Branding Is Gonna Be Hard
Nothing in branding and marketing is easy if you ask me. It’s about differentiating yourself, finding that unique story, the truth, the angle, and the presentation.
It goes beyond merely describing your business and what your services are. It describes you both as a person albeit what you stand for and your goals, and your company as a whole.
Sometimes, it is a rabbit hole filled with potholes. Sometimes we get it right, other times we get it absolutely wrong.
If you think about it, the relationship between consumers and brands is not all that much different from relationships with other people.
The only thing different is that one is trying to sell something, the other is trying to buy it. The thing is unless there’s genuine trust, care, and compassion, there’s no long-lasting relationship.