Every brand (corporate or product) exists as a shorthand signpost to a business or product. Your brand should look to reflect exactly who you are and what it is you do. Getting into this core of who you are, is easy to say but difficult to achieve. Because not only do you have to define and articulate this who and what, you have to get your target audience to accept & believe it.
We call this establishing your ‘simple truths’
Simple because they have to be understood by a wide variety of audiences and true because you cannot invent or pretend (you will be found out). And if your targets do not believe what you are saying, then your brand will fail. Hence this simple truth is literally your ‘golden rule’ as a brand. Successful brands achieve this and instill a feeling of trust and security with their audiences. And that is a very valuable commodity.
Brands represent clarity for users and in todays cluttered world
Getting your ideas out to your audience and getting them to pay attention to that idea is another significant challenge. Hence you have to make things clear, believable and pitched in a way that will make the target care enough to act. These are all elements in your story.
Unless you are coming to the market with something that is totally ground breaking, you will need to be on the right trend with your offering. In other words, pitching a service or product that the market is hungry for.
The traditional model of 'be early' and 'be big' still has some relevance today, but it is less about just being big anymore. Size alone no longer wins. Traditional models meant that to reach a large volume of people you needed deep pockets to spend on advertising and promotion. Today you can access your targets directly through the internet and your digital marketing at a fraction of the cost. The brands that add the most value, are most relevant and deliver positive outcomes will succeed.
But if your not the only player in your market, how do you stand out? Differentiation has always be a central element of brand and in our digital world, it is even more important. Your content will be a central pillar in how you differentiate your brand. Because after you have defined and articulated your desired positioning. After you have developed the look and feel of your marketing communications, it will be your content that determines how well you bring your brand strategy to life.
When you look to establish yourself in your market against your competitors you should be thinking about where you can be unique. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything. Embrace a narrow focus, as it will help you be different. This narrower focus does not have to be small. Looking for a smaller space and going deep is a very good strategy from a brand perspective. Being narrow also doesn’t restrict where you might be able to grow into in the future. Think about how Amazon has developed. They were the industry pathfinders - bringing book retailing completely online. They also kept a narrow focus - books. Hence this mix of pioneer and sole focus on books was crucial to it achieving such success and brand recognition. Just as Google had become the lead reference point for search Amazon became the first recalled brand for books. Today Amazon offers multiple products and services, from retail, to entertainment to hardware. All emanating from a specific narrow focused beginning.
What Amazon did was to be the best pioneer in relation to online book retailing. Other bookstores had websites and were working with a bricks and clicks strategy. But Amazon saw the opportunity to be specific in terms of the channel and to put real scale into it. Hence their differentiation was in-built in their functionality. The customer experience that they developed around the offer became the glue that helped bind them emotionally with their customers. They found a new space to help them be different.
Ironically, Amazon have now begun to open their own retail stores. Their stated strategy is to give their customers a more tangible brand experience. Hence these stores are not so much about how much product they shift per square metre, but rather how they help bring their brand alive. So now Amazon is perusing a 'clicks' and 'bricks' strategy, but an inverted one. Additionally and ironically, it is their vast scale that has enabled this approach to offering brand cathedral retail. And their scale was built entirely online!
As a business and brand strategy – trying to be a me-to is not good. Unless you are one of the early adopters and you believe that you can be better than the first market mover.
For any business you should look to try and find the space that isn’t occupied. This can be daunting because the under developed spaces are usually there for a reason. Customers are not interested or its not sustainable etc. But as a differentiation strategy it is an excellent way of looking to identify where you can be unique in. So don't ignore the un-developed parts of your industry - they can hold opportunity.
Look to find the space where the market is going. If you can pitch unique for a better envisioned future, you will very likely have something your competitors don't and that could be the hook for your differentiation.
Inbound Marketing is the practice of building valuable content on-line which will be interesting to your target audiences. Upon finding this content (because it offers a potential solution to a particular problem they have) they will be pushed towards your site where with the right sort of site architecture, you will be able to offer them a clear path to finding out more about your offers and also help give them more solutions to their challenges.
In all of these interactions, your targets will encounter your content. This content you create and publish will literally be the thing that defines your brand. When we talk about marketing bringing business strategy to life and expressing it as propositions for your target audiences, content is at the heart of this.
When you begin to put your content strategy together, it will rely heavily of the data insight you have gathered about your brand offering. It will take the cues you have established around your target audience, their make-up, what they are interested in etc. This data should be used to help you create mock customer personas, which develop the characteristics of your audience and helps to establish their needs in real ways.
This allows you create content solutions that connect and is unique to you. If you have tried to find a new space to own in your positioning, this content should sound fresh to visitors and this will help your brand build differentiation.
Your unique content will be delivered as lots of different media including:
All of these pieces become key interactions and help to contribute to the sort of customer experience. As Amazon proved so successfully, customer experience is bigger than customer service. It is the full end-to-end experience. As Jeff Bezos noted “The Amazon experience starts from the moment you hear about Amazon and ends when you receive your package at your door”.
At the heart of your brand should be a question that should drive your all of you content development.
What will you be famous for?
In our next blog we will delve deeper into what makes great content? At its heart is the ability to tell great stories that engage, inform and bring value.
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