Makers, entrepreneurs, creatives, activists — we live in a culture of doers and hustlers which plays a part in how consumers relate to brands. Consumers value brands who take a stand, live up to their words, and show an understanding of their, cultural surroundings – in other words: they love brands that play up their practical and emotional IQ beyond their analytical and rational skills.
Defining who your consumer is, your brand’s positioning and personality are the first steps to establishing your brand’s strategy and to helping you guide marketing initiatives later on. But, the starting point to any successful brand strategy is to avoid using generic marketing verbiage. Your words must translate the passion that originated the brand and inspire bold actions for consumers to take notice.
1. Keep it Real
Use everyday-life language when writing down your brand’s strategy so that it will help you stay true to the essence of your brand. It’s important to capture in your own way what it is about your brand that moves you and why it is here in the first place. This will help you approach your future campaigns more intuitively. It is about bringing forward ‘that thing’ — the intangible — that gives substance, emotion and singularity to your brand.
Dennis Paphitis, the Founder of Aesop shared, “I was horrified at the thought of Aesop evolving into a soulless chain,” he says. “I’ve always imagined what we do as the equivalent of a weighty, gold charm bracelet on the tanned wrist of a glamorous, well-read European woman who has travelled and collected interesting experiences.”
It’s important to capture in your own way what it is about your brand that moves you and why it is here in the first place.
2. Make room for Intuition and Creativity
Consumer research, consumers’ reviews, sales tracking, social media and online data bring a wealth of information to help you better understand your target, market, measure success and anticipate risks. But the challenge is how data and analytics can become overpowering in the day-to-day of a growing brand and business, steering you away from experiencing what your consumers do, reading and seeing things that can fuel your understanding of the market and your inspiration.
Dedicate actual time for creativity — liberated from any kind of censorship — will help you transform your business knowledge into ideas that can move consumers. To let your intuition of the market and of consumers lead you — based on actual experience — will help you better interpret data and inform your decisions. This exercise is about giving more weight to your gut feel and imagination — not just to thinking and analyzing.
To let your intuition of the market and of consumers lead you — based on actual experience — will help you better interpret data and inform your decisions.
3. Live and Breathe Your Consumers’ Lifestyle
Goop, Winky Lux, Chobani, Casper, AESOP are all brands that have one thing in common: they cracked the code with consumers, addressing and fueling specific lifestyle aspirations and experiential needs.
Casper’s success lies in the purchase experience which is designed to address the specific and unmet needs of a young urban target. The brand lives and breathes millennial urbanites’ expectations with a very straight forward product offer, short delivery deadlines, easy product refunds and returns. It is all about freeing consumers from any constraints.
Goop’s success lies in the involvement of its Founder and is designed to give consumers access to the ultimate wellbeing experience; the one of Hollywood A-list celebrities and insiders. It gives the brand license to explore a wide range of products and services without losing its edge. From events with conferences, yoga and meditation classes to fashion, food and beauty products. It is all about accessing an exquisite and curated experience.
[These]… brands that have one thing in common: they cracked the code with consumers, addressing and fueling specific lifestyle aspirations and experiential needs.
4. Be Personal
Experience and picture what your consumers’ personal life is made of: the events they go to, where they meet with friends, the brands they like, the type of coffee they drink, the TV shows they watch, the blogs they read and so on. Living as they live will help you gain a better understanding of their surroundings, connect with them at a more personal level and understand what they deeply aspire to. It is about drafting and constantly nourishing an individual profile of your consumer, which will go beyond generic target data.
5. Do Things Your Way and Embrace Change
Actions speak louder than words — we all know this but it is always good to remind yourself. Your product design, the wallpaper of your store, other public organizations, people and brands your brand interacts with etc., will tell way more to your consumers about your brand than a stand alone — even though well-crafted — manifesto on the ‘About’ page of your website.
And beyond actions, it is the way you do things; your intentions or ’that little extra detail’ that will help you bring substance and singularity to your brand.
For example, Winky Lux targets the young Millennial by over-playing their wants and desires in their communications and creative approach. With unicorns, sparkly and over-indulgent imagery and product innovations that build on the latest crazes from matcha lipbalms to coffee scented eyeshadow palettes, they’ve become a brand that is now referred to as the Instagrammable make-up brand by the press.
You can also decide to go in your own direction, like Chobani. Despite being the market leader, the brand recently decided to fully revamp its look and feel to keep its edge. This move, together with Chobani’s incubator and ability to use its stores as product innovation labs, shows Chobani’s independent and pro-active spirit .
…it is the way you do things; your intentions or ’that little extra detail’ that will help you bring substance and singularity to your brand.
6. Don’t Get Cold Feet
One thing I like to remember is to dare will always work harder for your brand than to look for consensus. It is about embracing ‘that thing’ about your brand and bringing it to life through the tiniest details. This strategy can be polarizing but can generate a stronger hook and deeper consumers’ engagement. It is also trial and error process but that will give you way more insight on what works and does not.
Again, Dennis Paphitis, the Founder of Aesop says, “The moment […] you control the smallest, most innocuous details such as temperature, lighting, music, smells, tactility, and the materiality of a space this has a very profound impact.” We couldn’t agree more.
By embracing these strategies, it will help you be and stay in tune with what made your brand special in the first place. Follow your gut and keep in mind: there is no one way to go but what makes sense to your brand!