September 18, 2020|
8 min read
Drive Them Wild: The Principles of a Brand That Customers Obsess Over
As Marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can become the next “it” brand, the name on everyone’s lips. We want to be more than household names—we want to define our categories, to become not just brands but verbs. Think about Google—it’s so much more than a brand name. We don’t tell each other to “search it”—we say “Google it!”
There are other brands that have infiltrated the public consciousness like this. We tell people to grab a Kleenex, not a tissue; you’ll take a Tylenol, not an acetaminophen tablet. You’ll buy a Coke, not a cola.
You get the picture. These brands become so engrained people don’t even think of their products as separate from their names.
More than that, though, we want to become brands that our customers obsess over. We want them to actively think about us and what we offer them. We want to be not the default choice, but the active choice. So how do we achieve that? We can use the following principles to drive our customers wild and create a new obsession with our brands.
The Five Principles of Brand Obsession
Any brand obsession will spring from these five principles. When we lay the groundwork, we can build brands that our customers want to make part of their daily lives.
1. What We Offer
The first principle is likely the most obvious one. We have to offer something that makes the customer’s life better in some way. That can be a product or service, but it has to do something for them.
We often think that this is whatever direct benefit of the product itself. More often than not, the biggest benefit is something more intangible. Tylenol offers pain relief, but it’s also trusted medicine. We rely on Google to give us the right results. We expect innovation from Apple. Cosmetics brand LUSH delivers high-quality products with a commitment to social justice.
The benefits aren’t just what the product does. Benefits are also emotional impacts that a customer gets from using the products or teaming up with our brand.
2. Focus on the Customer
Next up, we have to understand that our brands should be—even must be—customer-centric. Why would you get obsessed with a brand that treats you like a number or like you’re inconsequential? When we put the customer and their needs front and center, people become emotionally involved with us. They’re more likely to want to put their time and effort into the relationship they have with our brands.
What’s more is that this is a much better use of our time! Most of us actually get caught up in concerns about our competitors. We might even say we’re obsessed with them—what they’re doing, how they’re outmarketing us, and what we could be doing to go toe-to-toe with them.
Why put all that energy into brands we may not even like? We’d be better putting our efforts into building relationships with our customers. Let’s think about them more and our competitors less.
3. Meet Emotional Needs
That brings us to the next principle: making sure we’re meeting customers’ emotional needs. Our customers turn to us not just for the product or service we offer. Think again of Tylenol. There are other, cheaper brands out there that offer the same thing. So why do people choose Tylenol? Because it’s the name they trust. When they’re in pain or when they have a fever, they want to know they’re using something that’s safe and effective. Tylenol delivers that sense of safety. It inspires confidence and trust.
Our customers have a wide range of emotional needs, so it’s not just inspiring a sense of safety. Apple inspires a sense of creativity, risk-taking, and adventure. We’re doing something new, a little bit daring, when we pick up the latest Apple product.
LUSH helps people feel good about themselves in so many different ways. First, there’s the products: people feel good using them. Grabbing a bath bomb or a face mask means carving out time to take care of you, to do something nice for yourself. The company’s focus on social justice means people feel good about picking these products. People feel like they’re not just caring for themselves but also for other people, animals, and the world around them.
4. Know Our Higher Purpose
We can see the next principle in that description: having a higher purpose for our brands. That’s where the emotional connection for our customers is. Sure, our products might be good or great. They might fill a need; they get the job done. But they also have a higher purpose that goes beyond the product itself.
And finally, we have to make sure we’re always working build and maintain trust with our customers. If we betray that trust, we’ll have a hard time winning them back.
Customer Obsession Is Hard Work
None of this is easy stuff. You have to work at customer obsession; it doesn’t happen overnight. After all, a lot of it is rooted in long-lasting customer relationships.
We shouldn’t be afraid of this work, of course. In fact, we should be excited to take it on! Developing deeper relationships with our customers, meeting their emotional needs, and earning their trust are goals we should have for our brands no matter what.
Why? Because our brands always, always—always!—have a purpose that goes beyond “making money.” If we try to develop a brand that customers obsess over without understanding that, we’re likely just trying to manipulate people.
That’s not the goal of this exercise—or of most marketing, actually. The goal should always be to meet our higher purposes. That’s why we’re here; it’s what we stand for and why we do what we do.
Think about it. When was the last time you wanted to buy from a brand because they wanted to make money hand over fist?
When was the last time you wanted to work for a company that cared about profit and nothing but profit—at any cost?
Chances are you’re not working where you do because of the profit motive. Sure, the company may be successful in a financial sense. But you probably wanted the job because of a great company culture, a benefits package, or even because you believe in the company’s products.
And when you’re shopping, you pick one brand over another for any number of reasons. None of them are related to the company’s profit motives. There’s something else driving you, something that makes you believe this brand is right for you.
That’s speaking to the brand’s higher purpose. Once we understand that, it’s easier to get excited about the “work” of customer relationships. We’re no longer engaged in the idea that we need to “manipulate” people or “persuade” them. We’re interested in getting to know them and presenting them with a solution we ourselves believe in!
5. Authenticity Is Essential
In this, it’s important for us to be authentic. This word is thrown around in a lot of marketing circles right now, because our customers are asking us to be more authentic.
People often think this means giving “sneak peeks” at our companies. But what it actually means is connecting with our customers in a real and genuine way. Even sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes can be faked or staged—in other words, inauthentic.
So how do we get to a point where we’re genuine? Again, we want to look to our own emotional stock in our brands. And that comes right back to the higher purpose: what are we doing here? How are we making a difference for our customers?
When we have that answer, it’s much easier for us to enter into authentic relationships. We can be honest with our customers—about what we bring to the table and what we do for them. There’s no manipulation in sight here.
And this is where relationships can turn into obsessions. Our customers want to connect with us; they enjoy interacting with our brands. They understand the benefits they’re getting from the product. But there’s also real emotional connection there for them—something that does more than fulfill a functional need.
So knowing our purpose allows us to connect on a different level, which then inspires emotional response in our customers. It keeps them coming back for more, and even encourages them to recommend us to their friends and family, so they can share in this relationship.
It’s not necessarily easy, but it doesn’t have to feel like an uphill slog. If you’re not sure where to start, then get back to the core of your brand.
Everything flows from knowing your higher purpose, so remember to start with the why!
Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing
Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.
Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.
And it all starts with why!
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