In Part I we gave you a simple explanation of Brand. Brand is about the emotional connection a customer has with your company, derived through personal experience with your company, product or services (see Part I Starbucks).
In this Part II, we will talk about how you develop and establish your Brand, which is called “Branding”. In effect, “Branding” provides customers with an environment and opportunities so they can participate in those personal experiences.
“Logo” – Just the tip of the iceberg
Most see “Brand” as a famous logo representing a large company. It’s misleading – the logo itself is only the tip of the iceberg. It shows up on the surface; signs, DMs, coffee mugs and tee shirts. But a Brand Logo doesn’t become well known by itself. This is where “Branding” comes in, the skill and art of developing your Brand for your target market. And the logo design is just part of the Branding process.
Branding concept #1: Understand your customer
For Branding, the first question we ask is , who is your target market (customer) and what do they need?
Of course you already know who your customers are. For years, you’ve conducted marketing surveys, industry trend analysis, design meetings, competitor comparisons etc. And you already understand what the customers need, right? Let’s see how Brand sees customer needs. You might be surprised.
There are basically 3 layers of customer needs ; Superficial, Emotional, Hero.
- Superficial Needs – The vicious cycle Superficial needs are the things are the things that are readily apparent and obvious about your products and services. These are the things that you have probably already considered. Let me go straight to an example.
- Emotional Needs – All about Trust The next layer deep is satisfying an emotional need. These are the things that Brand attempts to engage in, because it’s what brings customers closer to you – it’s all about Trust. Here are some emotional needs – Happiness, social-ness (feeling welcomed, family), security, safety, peace of mind, relaxation, confidence, sympathy, prestige, love. Does your company, products, advertisements or sales people allow your customer to experience any of those emotions? But what do I mean when I say “allow your customer those experiences”. We need to go back to our Starbucks example in Part I. You might remember how I became Branded to the Starbucks logo. I visited Starbuck’s for a cup of coffee, and I was branded with a great experience.
- Hero needs – Birds of a Feather. So the Barista loves working at Starbuck’s because they are “empowered” to make-a-difference, save-the-day, be a hero. But what if you can allow your own customers that same experience? Allow them opportunities to be heroes themselves. Let’s say you are a green company; paperless, energy efficient, culturally diverse, and philanthropic. If your customers hold such things dear, you can also invite them to be part of your own company’s hero work. Buy a coffee, save a whale. Sure, seldom does somebody buy a product because you are a green company. However, all things being equal between you and your competitors, people will lean toward you because you have values much like them. It can be the tie-breaker.
a) Let’s say a potential customer wants a cup of coffee. b) Your Cafe, which we call “A”, sells coffee and so problem is solved. c) Wait … not so fast. There are also Cafes B, C, and D, who also sell coffee. d) OK, you may say your customer wants great tasting coffee. e) So you can tell your customer that you have “high quality” coffee and problem is solved.
f) Wait … not so fast. Companies B, C and D also claim high quality coffee.
This is all to say, if you are selling “superficial” things, you are just arbitrarily competing for customer attention and hoping for the best. This is Traditional Marketing, which is persuasive, exaggerated, manipulative rhetoric on websites, social media, DMs, catalogues, videos, exhibition booths etc.
Then, how else would you market your products?
If you understand the utter importance of the two contrasting statements above, you understand the foundations of Brand!
Now, I never go to Cafe A, Café B, or Cafe C because they’re just selling cups of coffee. (superficial need).
I go to Starbucks for a “cup of happiness”. (emotional need).
So how does Starbucks execute “Branding” to achieve this? Starbuck’s has a well thought-out Barista training program. Aside from the mechanics of making a cup of coffee, they “empower” their Baristas to do what it takes to “give the customer the best coffee experience ever”. And because of this, Starbucks employees are considered partners (not employees) and they love working there! Let’s continue with our Starbucks example.
I order my Latte and in a few minutes I go to retrieve it, but I forgot to mention that I wanted a Soy Latte (because of lactose intolerance). I lament this to the Barista, but I say “it’s ok, I can just give it to my colleague back at the office”.
However, the Barista smiles and says “no problem, I’ll just remake it, and by the way, why don’t you take the mistake-Latte and give it to your colleague anyways”. Wow, I’m feeling grateful and fortunate.
The Barista saved the day. That is what Starbucks employees are “empowered” to do – be part of the greater good, make a difference, be a “hero”, which is another powerful life experience most of us yearn for. That’ s one of the main reasons people like to work there.
“My Starbucks Barista is fully empowered and your employees should be too”
Which brings us to our Hero layer.
But being “Green” is only one way to allow a “hero” experience for your customers. There are other ways too, and it’s all about matching what you believe in with your customer’s belief system - birds of a feather stick together.
This is all to say that you probably already know what your customer needs on a superficial layer. But does your product or services satisfy at an emotional level? This is the difference between Traditional marketing and Branding.
Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee per se, it sells an experience.
Consider Starbucks mission statement.
It says nothing about selling the best quality coffee. Isn’t that interesting?
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”
Take away concepts:
In this section we discussed, at length, the different needs a customer has. Most of time, companies try to fill the superficial needs.
But if you want to give your customer a personal experience, you need to understand them at an emotional level and that is what Brand focuses on and why it’s so powerful … and that is what we will cover in Part III – How do you connect with your customers at the emotional level?