Who's brand is it anyway?

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everybody else.
— Margaret Mead

Brands have personalities. A brand’s unique identity, values, interests, abilities, actions and finally product are what distinguishes them as an individual. Regardless of industry, most brands are trying to find their way through highly competitive environments. Multiple brands pursue a single opportunity within the market, with very similar products. Functionally, when we get down to it, is there a huge difference between, Apple and Samsung, Coca Cola and Pepsi, BMW and Audi? Certain differences sure (I hear the ‘Of course there is!!’ cries ring out already). But in the crowded marketplace, rather than your product, often the power of your individuality, your personality, your Unique Branding Position (UBP) can differentiate you from your peers and competition.

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The goal of any brand is to attract attention. When we define brand, it is not just the logo, the visual identity, the website or the language you use. It is so much more than that. A brand is what stays with a person, it resides in their memory. It is a long, ever evolving story that we as customers stitch together when we interact with one of the many elements in a company ecosystem. The customer creates the brand for you. All you can hope to do as the protagonist in this epic tale is to influence your position as the hero rather than the villain.

Just because you say you are something, doesn’t mean you are. Nobody believes anyone who says they are cool. The decisions the customer will make about you will define you. If a user’s thoughts and feelings about an organisation are what defines its brand, what influences these are their constantly reinforced perceptions and experiences. To love a brand is not to love their product, as a physical object or service, it is to love what they product does for you, your perception of it, how it makes you feel. Perceptions and experiences are one of the driving forces of people, both commercially and personally.

 

Influence not Inform

So why is it that we are attracted to some brands more than others? Why do we have die hard Apple fans who will queue for days to purchase a product regardless of the spec, just because it is Apple? Why are we Pepsi or CocaCola? Adidas or Puma? Oracle or SalesForce? Canon or Nikon? Why is there a burning desire within me to own a db5 but not a ferrari?? Brands that try to influence how their customers perceive them rather than feed them information will build longer relationships with their customers. They speak to us. Some are stronger and more forceful than others, some are confident and cool, some are intelligent and caring. The best ones speak to us on a level that we can connect with, their purpose, values and goals are aligned with our own. Users, buyers, customers are tired of lifeless language and engagement that brands have forced upon them in the past. They want genuine experiences that are seamless, exciting, reassuring and most importantly bring a sense of connection.

Customers are constantly engaging in a non-stop ritual – an intricate and complex journey of decisions, combining pieces of information to create a fuller picture of multiple brands. To influence their overall perception and experience of you, a brand must try to achieve an in-depth understanding of their customers, their value systems and the ways in which they operate.
Here at Katawave, we know by understanding why people do what they do, what they have done and why they will do, brands can understand how to align their proposition with those people.

 

With your full proposition, comes purpose

With a true understanding of who you want your customers to be, comes an understanding of your full proposition. Not just the product or service. With your full proposition, comes purpose. Now this is something people will relate to. Purposeful communication, dialogue and information will create a resonating and meaningful perception of your brand for the right people. A purposeful relationship will be a long one.

As well as customers consuming multiple points of interaction with an organisation to build up a brand, they are now also contributing to those points of interaction. Dialogue that was once top down, from brand to customer, are now more free flowing and more about conversation rather than information. Because of the ways in which society is developing and the technological responses to it, we are moving closer to the connected customer. People are now openly contributing to your brand perception and experience for their peers. They consume what you give them, contribute to it also and curate what their peers have to say too. This in some ways, uncontrollable and largely driven by the customer, gives you more reason to get involved. Embracing this, with the same level of consideration you would give across all channels in terms of perception and experience will allow you to succeed. Instead of thinking us and them, lets open peer to peer conversations between brand and customer. Ideally you will then have brand advocates instead of customers.

Amy Hore