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Principles of Building Brands That Customers Want to Buy

July 03, 2020


Principles of Building Brands That Customers Want to Buy

There are lots of great business ideas but how do you know if you have a brand that will last or the roadmap to build a brand that customers will want to obsess over.

This might not seem like the right time to launch a business, but inventing your own future is an exciting proposition today. And, it’s actually a fairly welcoming environment for the right idea. Imagine you have a strong plant-based cleaner or a biodegradable mask that works as well as (or better than) the homemade ones we’re seeing.

So, how can you build a brand that people want to obsess over, right from Day 1? I’ve pulled together some pointers to get you started. These work now, and they’ll keep working in the future too.

1.  Conduct Research

How do you know if you have an idea that is sticky? Or an idea that needs to be refined in some way…positioning, packaging, colour treatment, etc.…? I believe it is important for the decision maker to conduct and be involved in research vs. read a report. Inspiration Sessions or Open-ended Research are some of the best types of tools to invest in. This is especially important for start-ups.

Entrepreneurs tend to introduce what products or brands they believe will sell, without ever understanding what that product or brand will deliver in terms of emotional benefits. The result when you discover why they will buy, may result in changes being required to the product or positioning or communication….all of which cost small or large amounts of money to realize the full potential of the idea.

Also, the right research will help a decision maker understand where the market is going. You do not want to launch to yesterday’s need vs. tomorrow’s need. Open-ended Research can help you get a mile-wide panorama than to drill a mile deep, especially when you’re first starting out!

Let’s use a hypothetical biodegradable mask company as an example. There are some key things that would help in decision making. What benefits are people seeking? What are the current rules about mandatory masks are important to know? What are people’s attitudes toward masks? How long do people expect they’ll keep wearing them? Beyond Covid-19, will people continue wearing masks when they’re sick with the common cold or the flu. How else are they being used?

And determining the target of potential mask wearers. Who are these people? What do people who want to shift to more regular mask wearing value? We can see they’re obviously conscientious! Maybe they value other people. They might know people with autoimmune diseases and know how important masks can be for them. They might also have certain professions, interests or perhaps cultural differences or needs. In many East Asian cultures, mask wearing is considered normal.

Finally, we might also see some crossover with people who are environmentally aware. They’ve heard stories about the waste of single-use masks and how they’re collecting in the ocean. They might be interested in biodegradable masks.

Taking the time to learn, allows the opportunity to identify patterns and help direct product development, attributes to focus on, communication to ensure ultimately that what you launch has the greatest breadth and depth of sales appeal.

2.  Define Your Brand’s Purpose

The next consideration is the higher purpose of why you want to be in business. Sure, we’re selling biodegradable masks, but why should people turn to us over any other brand or company? After all, people have been making their own reusable masks at home!

There are rational attributes or reasons to buy us:

·        Safety. There’s some doubt about reusable masks, so a disposable mask is considered the best option.

·        Protecting people. Our customers want to stay healthy, keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

·        Protecting the planet. While disposable masks might be “safest,” they pose a risk to the planet.

We can communicate other attributes or reasons why. Maybe we’re super into science and kind of nerdy, or we love fashion so we’re here to make masks look good.

But what people are buying are the values of our company. Our purpose is rooted in a need to protect people and the environment equally. Until both are protected there cannot be peace of mind. Our customers turn to us because they know they can rely on us to deliver a high-quality product that protects them, their loved ones, their health, their communities, their Earth!

If you dig into any brand that people obsess over, you will find a higher purpose and in many cases a cause or movement that customers vote in agreement each time they purchase. Nike is a good example; they have an entire page dedicated to defining their purpose: uniting the world through sport! They want to create an “equal playing field,” where every athlete is valued and can achieve their goals.

The essence of this brand is an anchor that allows them to declare their commitments to whatever latest issue that the world may present. Today, to the Black community, to the LGBTQ+ community, to their workers, to environmental sustainability.

There are plenty of purposes out there, and each brand has a different one. Many businesses in our communities have continued to try and serve their purpose but pivot and deliver in new ways. Restaurants providing curb side or cooking lessons online or home delivery. When something changes in the world, it opens a whole new range of opportunities to redefine a space.

A tech company might be looking at the way its new app brings people together. Maybe it looks at how it helps parents create work-life balance.

Discovering your purpose always starts by asking one question: why. Ask your potential customers why they’d shop with you, why they’d choose one brand over another. And ask yourself why! Why do you do what you do?

3.  Strike the Right Tone

Once you’ve clarified your company or brand’s purpose, it’s a lot easier to create the voice of your brand. Striking the right chord with customers right now is more important than ever. So many brands sent out messages that weren’t landing, because people’s needs, their concerns, and their desires, had shifted so much, so fast.

The messages we were sending out in January definitely, missed the mark in March. You always need to be openly talking to your customers to feel the beginning and degree of a shift. And we need to be responsive. But we also must think about our brand’s voice more generally. What’s going to resonate with our customers today, tomorrow, and into the future?

The hypothetical biodegradable mask company needs to have a brand character and tone that is representative of the values of the organization and products it sells. This product is anchored in safety so a professional and trustworthy tone vs. quirky and fun would deliver the strategy best.

The key here is to be able to vertically integrate all aspects of a brand for it to be believable and deliver to customer needs.

4.  Be Human

Perhaps the most important thing we can do when we’re trying to build a brand people want to get involved with is be human. Human connection is at the core of everything we do, no matter what our purpose is. It’s people who buy our products, and it’s people who run our businesses.

Authenticity, empathy—showing there are real human beings behind your brand—goes a long way. People will always be driven to buy from companies they care about. The foundation of that caring is in the people behind the brand.

There are many ways to be human! We’ve talked about companies that emphasize empathy and connection in their messages. Plenty of fast food brands have adopted the “sassy Twitter persona,” which works for them. Having a sarcastic clapback is, in some ways, just as human. People love to let Wendy’s “drag” them. It creates a human connection between the customer and the brand; it gives people a laugh (although not everyone will appreciate being on the receiving end of a good burn!).

Keep that in mind as you begin to build your brand, talk to your would-be customers, and people you think aren’t your customers. Have these open-ended discussions and work not to get answers to questions but to understand people! What makes them tick? Why do they buy what they do, and why do they do what they do?

Understanding that will lead you to your purpose—and from there, to a much stronger brand identity.

And it all starts 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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