The 4 Most Important Questions Your Brand Must Answer

4-questions

Critical to the development of a strong brand is the ability to powerfully and concisely answer the following four simple, but critical questions. Ask yourself whether your brand has taken the time to think through each of these areas, or whether it’s time to revisit these four fundamentals that make all the difference to your business success:

1.WHO are the most important targets for the brand?

The biggest mistake that businesses make is they try to reach every body and they end up connecting with nobody. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the narrower your target – the wider your success. Zero-in on a specific type of person and delve deep to know what makes them tick, what keeps them up at night, what’s missing that your product or service can help address?

At Brand School Master Class one of the first exercises we do is to create a Target Persona. We develop a character, like in a novel, and give them a back story. Really drill down, the more specific, the better. Think beyond standard demographics like age and gender. Do they live in the city or suburbs? What’s their family dynamic like? What keeps them up at night? What’s on their DVR? What was the last vacation they raved about? Then get more specific about their needs in relation to your category. What’s going on in their lives right now that might make them receptive to your brand message? What else have they tried to meet this need? Who are their key influencers? Some brands have one target while others have several different targets. If you have more than one, do this exercise for up to three targets – but then look for the common drivers between them. These Target Personas become the fundamental inspiration that will help you keep your branding, marketing and advertising more productively focused.

2. WHAT is going to compel them to choose your brand and stay loyal?

Once you understand what your ideal target is really searching for…how can you meet that need? Great brands don’t just help to get things done – they help people feel differently about themselves. Your Brand Promise needs to be more than about functional benefits. You need to really connect emotionally. Starbucks isn’t selling coffee, it’s promising community. Nike is not about running, it’s about achievement. At Brand School, we call these kind of benefits “top of the pyramid” promises (think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). What’s at the top of your brand’s pyramid that will really connect with your customer and turn them from an occasional user to a loyal fan? The deeper you go in your WHO – the Target Persona exercise – the easier it will be to zero-in  a compelling and differentiated brand promise.

3. WHY should these high-priority targets believe in your brand?

Now that you’ve got their attention with a powerful Brand Promise (or Brand Idea) WHY should they believe that you can deliver on this?  In Brand School Master Class we dive further into creating Brand Pillars – the differentiated and credible ways that you support your Brand Promise.

These Pillars should reflect your unique point of view in the category, how you see and do things differently. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, your Personal Brand is also an important Pillar. How does your personality and passion help your customer get what they need?  Share why what you do is important to you, and share your personal story or the story of how you started your business. But always keep your Target Personas in mind when developing the Pillars and avoid trite support points like “High Quality” and “Trustworthy”. Those are a given in any category and are not going to make you stand out.

4. HOW is your brand felt in every touch point?

This is where the rubber really hits the road. Any brand can say they are great, but how many can really prove it in all of the customer interactions? Look for moments of magic that are going to bring your brand to life and help you connect with your ideal target. Stay fresh and consistent with your language and visual brand representation.

Virgin Atlantic delights their flyers with tiny salt and pepper shakers shaped like airplanes with feet. Pleple were carrying them off the plane with them so Virgin Atlantic had the words “pinched from Virgin” printed on the bottom of the shakers. Snapple places entertaining facts on the insides of their bottle caps which have become collectibles. Place words of wisdom or tips on packing slips, invoices or cash register receipts to keep your brand in the eyes of your customers. Include a genuine thank you note in your packages along with a sticker of your brand’s logo. Don’t forget the outside and/or inside of packages and tote bags. The idea is to surprise your customer and create a stronger brand connection.

Answering these four critical questions will help you develop a clearer brand,  build a stronger business, grow your customer base and continue to innovate ways to serve your consumer better. Brand School Master Classour highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. See if your business qualifies for Brand School’s exclusive programs at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

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Find the Perfect Match for Your Brand

There’s not a lot new about online dating. Or is there? HowAboutWe added a fresh, unexpected twist to their dating service by coming at things from a new angle. It’s not just about finding the right person to go out with, it’s also about figuring out what to do on your date.

This is an online dating site that is offline activity driven. And it’s targeting both singles and couples (another fresh twist).  On the singles side it’s what you want to do that drives the search and makes the headlines rather than a description of yourself. You “create” your ideal date activities to attract those who are interested in doing similar things. On the couple’s side, each person chooses activities they’d like to do and then shares with the other to create a great date. HowAboutWe also offers affordable access to activities and events by extending deeply discounted invitations to its members for exclusive offerings from local resources.

HowAboutWe didn’t invent something new. Online matchmaking and dating sites have become quite commonplace. Discount offers arrive every hour in our email. But HowAboutWe took a fresh look at the dating category – and by putting it all together in one place they are able to stand out in a competitive market.

What can your brand learn from them about creating deeper connections with your customers? Look beyond the table stakes of your category. Ask what else is it that people are seeking – and make that a part of what you deliver. Let’s say you sell teeth whitening strips. Simply put, your product makes teeth whiter. But what people REALLY want from your brand is to feel more appealing with a brighter and more confident smile. Armed with this knowledge you can deliver a stronger, more compelling brand promise. Offer tips on how to take great photographs; give make up advice; share ideas on what to wear to brighten your smile, or simply include more pictures of big beautiful smiles on your website.  You will go beyond users to loyal brand ambassadors.

Digging deep into what your customers are really looking for and recognizing how to more effectively deliver on that is a critical aspect of successful branding and business building. In Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, you’ll learn how to match your brand promise with your ideal target market. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services

Stand Out in the Real World

Like most of us, I’m spending so much time on the computer, mobile and other virtual devices that I find myself beginning to to think communicating is now a 100% virtual experience, especially for business. But the reality is that the real world has not ceased to be important – far from it. In fact, most of the time it takes a real, tangible connection to ensure a brand makes an impact or an entrepreneur is remembered. Yes, even in a growing virtual and e-mail world, an actual business or greeting card can go a long way.

Online printing has been around for a long time. It has provided everyone with the ability to quickly have business cards or personalized holiday cards printed at a fraction of what it used to cost. There are thousands of online printers to choose from. What makes moo different?

DESIGNED TO STAND OUT

Moo is passionate about one thing, design. They are dedicated to making distinctive design accessible to everyone. Moo’s tagline encapsulates this promise: great design for everyone. They implemented a twist in their brand by taking an unwavering stand for design quality and in doing so, created a niche where their brand excels. This really helps them stand out from all of the other printing brands that focus only on low price and quick printing. Your business card is a powerful representation of your brand. Why would you skimp?

THINK BEYOND THE HOLIDAY CARD

Think outside the tired, worn out holiday card or business card ideas of the past. What better way to have your brand remembered than to give a holiday card created in your business’ colors? Or, give a set of note cards creatively designed with the colors of the recipient’s logo or tag line? An entrepreneur can make a lasting impression by handing out a mini-smartcard with an unforgettable quote or photo on it. Moo makes this possible and accessible to everyone and above all, permits us to do it with stand-out design.

HOW CAN YOU TOUCH YOUR CUSTOMERS WITH A TWIST?

Put your brand within reach of your customers.  Literally. Print it out, hand it out, or give it as a gift. Making it something tangible, that other people can get their hands on, is an effective way to have you and your business shine, in full color! And if you get them to wear your brand with pride (think t-shirt or re-susable tote) they will also be walking brand ambassadors.

Defining what your brand stands for and then expressing it with impactful touch points is essential to growing your business.  But it takes focus and strategic thinking. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your brand in both the real world and in the virtual world. Receive more information about the next session of Brand School and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

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Deliver Your Elevator Pitch with a Twist

You only get one chance to make a first impression, make sure you’re ready to seize your moment.

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand.

Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in the time it would take to travel 3 elevator flights, not 30 or even 10.

Learn more about honing your elevator pitch in the 8 tips here:

1. Pay attention to your audience, what motivates them? Your pitch can and should vary somewhat by audience, know what your “ask” is. Do you want an introduction to someone else, a purchase, an investment, coverage on a blog? Know this up front and make sure you ask for what you want by the close.

2. Talk about what your brand enables people to do – not just what you offer – an emotional promise fulfilled will create a loyal user.

3. Add something personal and memorable to your story – perhaps something visual – the best stories give specific details we can connect with.

4. Think about your story in terms of a headline and three supporting points – more than three is hard for your audience to remember.

5. Try out different versions on different people – see which ones get the lean forward effect, and which ones elicit a yawn or maybe a distracted eye roll.

6. Keep honing and editing – a story is never actually finished. New events happen that are significant and should be incorporated. Also updating stories keeps them fresh and interesting.

7. Have a short version, but be ready to follow up with more – think about your elevator ride for your elevator pitch. Make sure you have the two-floor version but also be prepared for the twenty-floor ride to the penthouse

8. Notice stories that move you and why. This could be a movie, things you read in the newspaper… Think about what elements of that story caught your attention and is there a parallel element that could help you tell your own brand story? I don’t mean copying the content, but maybe borrowing the technique.

MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand if you’re not already. And perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Now you can, with Brand School’s highly effective, premier branding program.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their knowledge to build your brand. We give you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next session of Brand School HERE.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah Weiss, Event Consulting