Who are you? What are you doing? And why should I, the customer, even care? Who? What? Why? Three small questions, three small words, which can decide about the continued existence of a company. Why should the customer choose you?
If you look at the history of the last century to the present day, you can see that people’s decision-making behavior has constantly changed. While at the beginning of the 20th century the functions of the product were still in the foreground, already from 1925 the benefits of the product became more and more important. The change took place from the question “What does it have and what can it do?” to “What does it do and what do I get out of it?”. That finally changed to “What do I feel?” — Suddenly people were talking about the experience a product offers the customer. And today? Today, customers want to be able to identify with the product they own.
The origin of this development lies in the fact that we as a society have moved away from mass production towards mass adaptation to customer needs. The choice has multiplied several times over the years. Today we live in a world of overwhelming information overload with a simultaneous drought of time. This means that customers simply no longer have time to spend on the products. Differentiation based solely on individual features and benefits is therefore no longer possible. And what happens if your competitor simply copies your features and benefits? So how else can you distinguish yourself?
By the symbolic value!
This means aesthetics, feeling, contrast and charisma. Our brain is programmed to protect us from unimportant information. It is exposed to a constant flood of stimuli and therefore has the task of filtering. Everything that doesn’t seem important enough flies out. The impressions that make it to our consciousness are compared with our previous experiences and finally assigned to certain categories. Our sense of sight plays the most important role. And it is above all looking for the clearest and greatest contrasts — white and black, large and small, thick and thin.
Successful brands such as Coca Cola, Red Bull, Apple, Nike and Co. have understood this and use this knowledge specifically for themselves. Each of these companies knows who it is, what it does and above all why it should matter to the customer. They stand for something very specific and communicate that with laser sharp focus!
Every person has different pictures in front of the mental eye, if one throws him certain terms. What brands do you think of when I say energy drink? Sports shoes? Car? And what is much more important, what feeling do you have? Is it joy of life, freedom, independence, community? Because feelings have a much greater value than simple, rational information.
People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves!
So what does the product look like? Who produces it? What are the manufacturer’s values? Who else buys this product? What do the people around me say about this product? Which group do I join with it?
What image does your customer have in mind when he hears your company name?
As globalization continues to override borders, people are looking for new borders because they expect them to provide the protection and security that our brain desperately needs. So they build their own world, which they understand themselves and in which they can be someone. People therefore form groups in which they long to belong.
A deep need for us as social beings.
Brands form exactly those groups in which people feel they belong, because they are part of a chosen clan. Even with the advantage of complete control. If the brand no longer appeals to you, you can simply change it.
However, for a customer to feel that they belong to a brand, they have to trust it completely. Deep trust, in return for which he wants to receive quality and a value proposition. One could therefore say that trust must be the fundamental goal of every brand.
The most important thing for the brand is to have a very clear focus. A brand must stand for something completely clear, a single thing. Whether safety, speed, strength or lifestyle. A single thing. If the brand stands for too many things, it stands for nothing. It’s pale. A strong brand knows what it is, why it is different and why its customers want what it offers.
However, many companies are afraid of exactly this point, because to focus means abandoning. They are afraid to address a target group that is too small and thus generate too low a turnover. But honestly, what would you prefer — to be number 1 in your niche or number 5 in an industry? If you have no clear focus, no clear differentiation, then you are interchangeable and therefore comparable. So you can only differentiate yourself by discounts and lower prices. Just look at the furniture industry. When was the last time you bought furniture at full price? There are hardly any brands here.
And the number 1? The number 1 in a niche has permission to charge premium prices, because after all it is the number 1. Customers buy it because they can identify with it! Because they believe in what the company believes in. They feel they are belonging.
Are you number 3, 4 or 5 in your industry? Then just change your focus!
If you’ve read this far, you’re a lot smarter than the companies that still believe their brand is represented by their logo alone. Their corporate identity, in which their colors, typographies and other things are defined. A brand needs a strong visual language, of course, but aesthetics is not just what we see. It is the overall concept that gives us a sense of security and trust. Branding is a gut feeling that customers associate with your brand.
It is not what you say it is. It is what customers say it is.
Accordingly, the result of the brand building is not controllable, only the process there. So let your brand grow, breathe, live and make mistakes. Your brand can and should show humanity, develop its own three-dimensional character. Strong brands are constantly changing, adapting to changes in the market, industry, economy and culture.
Brands are not organizations, brands are organisms, alive and dynamic.
The actress Stella Adler repeatedly calls “Don’t act. Behave”.
So be someone, have a statement and keep your focus. But don’t forget to breathe, live and grow.
Be beyond creative. Stay creative.