A strong brand feels like a genuine promise, fulfilled each time
We live in unprecedented times, where increasingly inter-connected users are constantly bombarded with information. Brands today have a window of mere eight seconds to leave an impact and form a connection with consumers. This is no easy feat considering this congested information-universe exposes an average person to anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 brand messages on a daily basis.
To stand out with differentiation and build a consistent, continual relationship with the consumers requires strategic and serious contemplation towards brand building efforts. Take for instance a Zara store -- the brand delivers a continuity of experience and communicates to the consumer a promise – that of a trendy, high-street fast-fashion experience. Brand Zara is clearly doing something right to stand tall and be hard to ignore from within the clamoring and burgeoning $400 billion fashion industry.
Becoming louder than the noise
As the Indian Economy eyes a 7 per cent growth in GDP over the 2019- 2023 period, aiming to become a $10 trillion economy by 2032, there is a new breed of brands emerging for the connected consumer both in the online and offline spaces. As the white noise in the market increases with every new entrant, consumers, especially Gen Z are becoming more discerning and conscientious, engaging only with brands that resonate with their value system. To stay relevant businesses must consistently innovate to build great brands which burn their mark in the market and effectively communicate distinction in this noisy and dynamic space.
Think about it, the groovy electronics of a decade ago are out-dated today. Just as gadgets that rule the roost today will be taking up space in museums a decade from now.
Great brands understand that brands will outlive products. Striking a perfect balance between decoding the ever evolving market patterns and the changing consumer needs and demands, these four elements when pulled together have the potential to skyrocket a brand that stays with people-
• It is authoritative and disruptive content
Innovation in creating content which makes users perceive brands as an expert in their field requires authoritative content building. While most brands follow the crowd to hover close to the safe zone, brands which soar high think outside the box and are not averse to delving deeper into their creative messaging methods. In fact, Zuckerburg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Still fresh in our memories is the Prasoon Joshi’s Happpydent Ad for Perfetti. The idea of people lighting up a palace with shining teeth after having chewed on some Happydent gum was brave considering it could have been received as absurd by viewers. It was brave content and most certainly a risk, which brought forward an overwhelming response and went on to feature in the Gunn Report as one of the 20 best ads of the 21st century.
• It is comfortingly familiar but not the same old
Strong brands are known to pursue long-term brand-inspired growth while ensuring consistency with brand positioning. Rapidly evolving marketing strategies and trends present new opportunities to explore, so businesses can evolve their brand personality with changing times. Evidently what appealed to your consumers in 1970 is certainly not going to work with Gen Z. Having said that, careful consideration is also needed so new ideas don’t run contrary to the brands image and confuse the consumers. For instance, if you are a brand that stands for sustainability, aligning yourself with a fuel-guzzling automobile brand will confuse your target audience. An SDL study indicates that 60% millennials expect a consistent experience from brands. The objective of a brand is to build a relationship with the consumer such that it becomes their gut feel about what a business stands for, and also build instant top-of-mind recall for them through iconic visual assets and consistent communication. Ensuring continuity of thought and messaging while leveraging the evolving marketing strategies will expand the reach and scope without losing the value that consumers identify with.
• It is a good story told well
With technology creating multiple touch points between businesses and consumers. Great brands use these to tell their story and maintain a transparent relationship with their patrons. How they started, what they stand for, what impact they are creating, what causes they support, their efforts towards sustainability and ethics – consumers not only deserve to know, but also love to know how their favorite products are sourced and have ingredients transparency.
Ethical and sustainable businesses build strong brand resonance when they are proud of who they are and what they stand for. Regardless of the lifespan of a business, this is an aspect that cannot afford to be ignored when addressing consumers in the current landscape of aware and conscientious consumers living in a planet with overstretched resources.
• It is a relationship
And a relationship requires emotional navigation and the ability to become irreplaceable. “Consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306 per cent higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years”, reported a study by Motistaa. Amazon cannot be skipped in this example with their brand strategy of building personal connect with their “kya pehnu”, “aur dikhao” and “apni dukan” immediately finding personal resonance and striking an endearing chord of personal identification with the Indian buyer.
The digital age allows for the personalisation of consumer experiences which businesses can leverage to cultivate stronger relationships and build solid brands.
Take for example the “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola in 2014, where every Coke can, carried a popular first name from cultures around the world. This encouraged people to find cans with their own names on them effectively personalising the user experience.
While building a great brand is a never ending process, fraught with new opportunities and challenges each day, differentiating between a solid brand and a bling brand lies in the educated balance between knowing one’s own USP and weaving it into the brand messaging well on one hand, and knowing ones customers and connecting with them effectively on the other. Genuine efforts in differentiated brand building will set a business apart from those which attempt to simply join the conversation disingenuously.
(The author is brand strategy consultant, Bluemarlin – India and SEA)