Determining brand strategy is about finding meaning.
In branding, the real challenge starts when it comes to growing your brand.
And you can make it happen when you find answers to three key questions and incorporate them into your branding strategy.
But there is something you should know first. Forming a concrete brand strategy requires knowing how people engage with the world and make decisions. Therefore, you need to keep the following two facts about human perception in your mind:
We all assign meanings to the things that we engage with in our daily lives. Those meanings turn into codes in our brains so that we can quickly make decisions when needed, regardless of whether it's the right or wrong decision.
We also love living in our comfort zones as it feels safe and the brain's first mission is always to survive and keep things familiar. This makes the decision-making process faster and easier.
Now let’s try to answer the important questions.
1. How to attract early adopters?
Your brand is only going to grow if you can create loyalty and a word of mouth following. And to do this, you have to attract early adopters first.
This is what you need to do: inspire.
In my psychometric branding methodology, I use psychological profile of decision-makers, as well as various types of messaging tactics, to define the best ways for the brand to engage with different types of personalities. This way, brands can learn how to best communicate with their audience and ultimately achieve authenticity.
Within this approach, the early adopters generally fall into "inspirational" personality type and expect to be impressed, inspired and get excited.
You can excite early adopters in different ways:
Show them the reason why your product or service exists. Are you challenging the status quo? Are you being innovative? Give them something that they can turn into a cause. Take Airbnb as an example. They challenged the traditional hospitality industry utilizing the benefits of a shared economy. Making travel more of an accessible experience, they created a community. Their early adopters were people who were passionate about traveling. They were against spending a fortune on hotels and willing to have local experience wherever they go.
Share the vision with them. If your vision is generic and your messaging is relatable enough, they would want to be a part of that vision and turn this into a mission on behalf of your brand. Let's continue with Airbnb case. In their rebrand, they redefined their mission listening to the community they created. The experience they provided had helped people engage more by sharing their space. However, Airbnb took their mission beyond it and connected travelers with a wider local community. Stay with Airbnb in Venice, and you will know where to take pasta-making classes or have an espresso with the best cake maker in town thanks to their rich content. "Belong anywhere" was their new message, which created a shared mission for the whole community.
Make them constantly satisfied and happy. Providing an early adopter with a positive experience is crucial to create a positive word-of-mouth that can lead to growth. Although Airbnb has made lots of mistakes leaving credible hosts out of their platform due to flaws in their system, they still kept their wider community happy. They made sure one can get a similar service quality and assurance wherever they stay with Airbnb. They provided free photography service to the hosts so that travelers could get the right impression of the space they would stay in. That way they validated the existence of such spaces and improved the security of their travelers.
Once you do these three things, you will start seeing the brand advocates are born and they will start talking about your brand positively. Why is it important? Because the key to growth is in the answer to the next question.
2. How to make people talk about your brand?
You found out how to attract early adopters and now it's time to find out how to make them talk about you. We know early adopters are generally inspirational personality types – they like to be inspired and they like to inspire others:
- They love sharing the things they discover.
- They love talking about the things they are passionate about.
- They love seeing they make a difference even if it's small.
When it comes to general society, people like to talk about interesting things. But what if you don't have to be interesting and that interesting element can organically be created within the audience?
This is exactly what you need: to create content and experiences inspiring early adopters enough to share with their circles. Let them make things interesting on your behalf because they are already excited and have a lot to talk about. Don't mix the messages spread out by your brand advocates creating confusing campaigns. Let them own the brand and speak for you.
People trust people and people engage with people. We are all evolved to do so. Facilitate the content and experiences for people to make your brand a talking point and use the second tier relationships as a gateway. You would have cleared all the verifications that people need to trust you once you are not directly involved in that process.
3. How to create inspiring and assuring content?
Although user-generated content is amazing for any brand to embrace, it's not an easy thing to achieve in content marketing. Now, I will only talk about the content you can generate on your own.
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman states 85% of our decision-making process is being managed by the part of our brain that stores memories, fears, emotions, etc. And only 15% of this process is being managed by the part that can calculate. The most interesting thing is coming now, the part owning that 85% decides whether the other part of the brain will work or not.
What does it mean for you? First, intrigue then convince.
Think of your marketing message like a chocolate ball with nuts hidden in its center. Your emotional message is the chocolate covering and your benefit is the nuts. Early adopters will mostly be interested in the chocolate cover while their verification seeking circle are keen to eat the nuts. But they will only know about the nut if early adopters speak of it.
Use the power of visual to trigger emotional attraction and embed one simple and preferably numeric or tangible fact within your message copy. This combination will not only make your content more shareable but will also help you attract different types of audiences using second-tier relationships.
Branding is about developing meaning
Never forget that branding is all about finding the meaning and understanding how human relationships work. Draw a brand lifetime roadmap from day one and plan how you will grow, when you will finance and why people will engage with your brand. This roadmap will provide the brief for your sales, marketing and PR activities making a clear separation between your marketing strategy and marketing tactics.