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Product is an item made by a company and can be purchased in exchange for money. These fill up many shopping carts! Brand is an integrated mixture of tangible and intangible attributes, perceptions, expectations and experiences – they create a distinct and differentiating value and influence to the end user. Products are something you buy that can be easily copied, substituted and replaced, while brands are unique and something you buy into. The difference is a clear as the distinction between a latte and Starbucks.
While you might have scored a perfect 100 on this pop quiz, you would be surprised how many “professionals” in marketing use these terms interchangeably without really knowing the difference.
But how do I go about starting the development of my brand? Blogging Out Loud will begin answering that by cutting through the thick underbrush to focus on how to build a message for your brand that resonates with the people you want to reach. These five questions will narrow down what your product is all about and help you uncover the brand message that says it all.
1. Who is your audience? Think this through carefully. Everyone needs plates. Some people will spend $100 on a plate, others $1. Which of these are you trying to reach? Be a specific as possible, taking into account education, income, geography, age, presence of children, ethnic background, etc.
2. Can you describe your product without using buzzwords like “solutions-provider” or “cutting edge”? It will help to think of your audience as a friend: how would you describe your product to someone else in everyday conversation? People want a succinct, clear explanation of who you are, without the jargon. Jargon doesn’t mean much to the typical consumer—authenticity does.
3. What emotional need does your product fill for your target audience? A famed marketing icon once said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Sure, the steak will fill the belly—but will it taste delicious while doing so? People want a great steak experience, not just something to eat. Similarly, When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new Apple Watch on March 9, he extolled health and its Apple Pay convenience as two of the key selling points, as opposed to what “makes it tick” (so to speak).
4. What sets your product apart from other similar products? It’s up to you to communicate why your product is the one the consumer wants to make part of their life. It may be one really cool, unique feature that can’t be easily duplicated by other companies. Or, it may be a combination of aspects that set you apart (and above) your competitors. Understanding your audience will help you find the unique selling proposition that appeals to them and assists in establishing your product as a brand they can’t live without.
5. What is your brand’s “image”? If you’re a selling surfboards, you’ll have a very different image than if you sell designer handbags and it will be evident in everything you do, from the design of your Facebook page to the background photo on your Twitter account. When creating your brand’s image, think about your ideal target consumer. Develop a brand personality that matches and complements your target audience, one that they will feel comfortable with. The vocabulary you use, the stories you tell, even the length of your sentences, all communicate your brand’s voice.
With the answers to the above questions now firmly in place, you’re well on your way to developing communications to establish a brand status. And with a brand you can cut through the clutter and show the people you want to reach why they want your brand as part of their lives. And from that comes brand loyalty and the creation of a long-lasting asset for your company.
If you’d care to share your perspective, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section. And don’t forget you’re always welcome to share this post!
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