Being a brand is so much more than offering a service or selling a product. To be a successful brand, you need to connect with people. You need to solve a problem. You need to do it in a selfless and authentic way.
When you build a brand, ask yourself these questions:
Who will want to buy your product or service?
This is your target consumer. The days of "everyone" are over, so you need to know who your target customer is. Demographics are the easy part. You can pick an age group, a lifestyle or anything else. It's the psychographics that count.
Think of it this way: when was the last time 100 women, ages 25-40, college educated, working professionals, with 2 children, making $100,000 or more each year felt the same way about anything? That's what demographics achieve.
Psychographics are the game changer, and lay the foundation for creating an emotional connection between your brand and your customers. Now... Put 100 women in the same room who are concerned about preventing skin aging, or streamlining their schedules, or any other "mindset" criteria, and you've got a more targeted, more cost-effective and time-effecient way of reaching them.
The target consumer is only ONE of the audiences you'll have to build relationships with. Every brand is influenced by 3-4 groups who often have different priorities or agendas. Who are they? What impact will they have on your ability to grow your brand? What can you do to help them find a place of agreement so you can focus your brand strategy and start growing?
What will you offer that your target consumer can't get any where else?
I can' t tell you how many times I've heard "there's nothing else out there like it!" I promise you I can name 5-10 products or services that are exactly like it--in the mind of the consumer.
What you can uniquely offer in a way that no other brand in the world can is an EXPERIENCE. What will experience do you want your consumer to have? This impacts every aspect of your business from marketing, sales, operations, staffing, product development or service creation, fulfillment & shipping / providing the service... you name it. The customer experience is EVERYTHING! Without an outstanding and memorable experience, it doesn't matter how "great" your product or service is. It's not great in the minds of the people who buy it if the experience isn't great as well.
Where will people be able to buy your product or service? What's your distribution strategy? How will you implement it?
The where is as important as defining your target consumer. They are inextricably linked. If you're selling a product, you have two choices: sell direct or through a retailer (either direct via the retailer or through a distributor who places the products with retailers).
Many emerging brands choose to sell direct because (a) there's more control over the message and (b) there's higher margin. What they don't realize is that there's a real cost associated with this distribution method. It's the "Field of Dreams" phenomenon: if you build it, they will come. Actually, if you build it, they won't know you exist without substantial investment in sales & marketing to make people aware that you're selling.
When can the consumer buy your product or service?
It's a 24/7 world, so you need to make purchasing available when the customer wants to purchase, not when you want to be open. If you're a traditional retailer, you need an e-commerce website. If you're a brand with in a few stores, you need an e-commerce website. If you're a service, you need online appointment bookings.
What's your brand DNA? What is it about your brand that people can believe it?
This is the hardest question for brands to answer. Whether an established brand, an emerging brand or an entrepreneur who wants to launch a brand, the "why" often gets overlooked.
If the "why" is tied to a formula or service description, just know that anyone can copy a formula or service, which would commoditize your "why", essentially pushing it to the sidelines of the super-competitive branding game.
The "why" is your brand's DNA. It's what makes your brand unique. It's the experience you want people to feel from engaging with it. It has a personality. A voice. An attitude. A style. It cares. It engages and is engaging. It has a point of view.
When you think about your WHY, look at it this way:
There are 40,000 sku in a store. The average person uses 150. The spend less than .05 seconds considering brands. Why will your target consumer care about you? What desires does the brand fulfill? How does this translate into an experience? How will you stand out?
Here's a hint: the WHY rarely has anything to do with why you wanted to start a brand in the first place. It has everything to do with HOW your target consumer feels about the experience you promise and WHY you care as much as they do because you solve a problem THEY have.
Before you start writing your business plan, marketing plan, sales distribution strategy or anything else related to market share and revenue growth, take some time and answer your WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and, most of all, WHY for your brand.