Recently I’ve had great conversations with other brand strategists about the changing landscape in brand building. There is no doubt that social media is having a profound impact on brands in all fronts of marketing, advertising, PR, and networking.
The core value of social branding is about fostering the “trusted” relationship from experiences associated with a service, a person or an entity. This is largely built on the effectiveness of the brand’s ability to communicate and influence people’s perception.
Today social media aims to bridge the gap between brands and people by providing a platform that embraces the concept of a community. It’s a new stage for brands to engage and interact with their audience. But one thing remains the same, there is always a challenge involve when it comes to creating and delivering value. Therefore, it is vital that brands demonstrate the indisputable benefits to their audience.
Strategies Vs Tactics
Described by the Chinese General, Sun Tzu:
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Simply put, tactics present a small picture perspective. They’re tools to fulfill your big picture strategy. Branding is not about using tactics such as scarcity, sense of urgency, risk reversal and value-for-price positioning. How about email campaigns, search engine optimization, product placements, celebrity endorsements, promotional events, telemarketing, or direct response advertising? Think again. They’re the vehicles that carry out the messages and to generate and funnel leads.
If you know what I’m talking about, you know those are techniques often used by marketers. In fact, I help clients implement those tactics regularly as part of the overall plan to achieve the stated goals. They can often be confused as strategies because within tactics there is also an element of strategy.
I see tactics as marketing triggers to gain attention, the “Hey! Look at me, I’ve got something important to say!” And when you gain people’s attention you must provide relevant and tangible value that’s meaningful to fulfill their expectations. And believe me, people have expectations when they give you a chance to deliver.
Once you get that opportunity, it all boils down to the execution (tactic) and the authenticity of your brand (strategy). Execution focuses on conversion tactics while brand authenticity focuses on value-extraction strategies. An authentic brand fulfills the implied promise that people have come to expect. And by doing so, the brand becomes more believable and trustworthy creating the foundation to build a relationship. As a result, you need to exposed the true intention behind your tactics.
Let’s take a look at brand slogans as examples. Walmart’s slogan of “Save Money, Live Better” says nothing about the quality of products it sells nor does Taco Bell’s “Think Outside The Bun” implies to what’s inside the bun. However, Porsche’s “There Is No Substitute” or Rolex’s “The Crown Of Achievement” both allude to a sense of novelty and dominance. These brands stay true to their slogans without suggesting artificial statements about their products. Of course there is always a gap between what consumers expect versus what brands imply, the trick is to narrow the gap by being authentic.
By simply being authentic, brands that focus on fostering a healthy relationship with their customers will increase the chance of stimulating an action to buy. This is the outcome brands desire, turning prospects into lifetime customers. For personal brands, it’s turning speculators to fans.
Create Your Brand Value Proposition
It doesn’t matter if you’re building your business brand or personal brand, you should create a brand value proposition. These values act as the blueprint to create your brand strategy so you can stay consistent, cohesive and most importantly unique. By having a solid brand value proposition you will be efficient in implementing your marketing tactics. Even if you’re selling a product with lots of competition, knowing your value will allow you to be creative in finding new ways to execute those tactics.
Hers are 3 simple ways to help you identity your brand value proposition:
1. Know your audience and identify their pain points – This may sound easy but I often see companies sell too broad because they want to sell to as many customers as possible . This is a false perception because you can not be all things to everybody, follow the 80/20 rules and focus on the 20% of customers that generates 80% of your revenue. The key is to understand the decision maker’s psychology. Things that matters to a manager may mean nothing to a CEO that makes the final decision. This is typical in the technology industry where companies often sell features to department managers instead of outcome to owners or executives. Great attributes mean little when the audience is looking for the bottom line impact. Identify all the scenarios to describe the situation where you come in and solve the problem, alleviate the pain. Keep in mind that you want the “ideal customer” that already has a need for what you provide.
2. Describe what you do and what you don’t do – Write down your competencies that represent what you offer. Focus on key words or phrase to capture what makes your brand special. Make it simple and use verbs that express an action or a relation between two things. Be plain and straight forward, if your company sells software start with “we sell software” not something like “we increase sale for businesses with an innovative software application.”
3. Create your brand message and test them – Once you have some core messages to work with from the two above steps it is time to test them. Get inputs from internal and external stake holders, what you think and care about may not be what others see or remember. That’s okay. You just need to learn to drive home a few key points that will stick in their minds and inspire them to learn more. It’s more effective in an initial interaction to pare down what you talk about to weed out the non-essential information. The idea is to have different talking points tailored to different audiences. It’s important to constantly update and improve your value proposition so it stays fresh and relevant.
Now go create your brand value proposition and use them as the foundation of your bio or company description on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg accounts or post them on your Blog .
Do you have a brand value proposition? Are they authentic? Share it right here and get some feedback!