Saturday, May 1, 2010

Distilling Your Brand’s True Brew

This post is a continuation to my earlier post on Simplicity in Marketing.

Creating a Simple but Effective Blueprint
Distilling the real essence of your message is an intense process that requires quality input, an understanding of goals, analysis and tough decisions. It involves regimented facilitation, real-world testing and expert packaging. There is no magic off the-shelf blueprint that allows you to make the intricacy transparent. However, brand specialists and expert knwoledge can assist with the refinement process – providing the steering tools and structures to aid and accelerate it. Beyond packaging the ideas for ease of consumption, these objectives can enable your company to swiftly convert a business model’s strategic objectives into actionable and profitable milestones that drive momentum, orchestrate positioning exercises and test acceptance.

Most executives want their company’s marketing and advertising messages to be “stylish, sophisticated or professional ” and if possible, “clever.” too. This pasteurized checklist is at the heart of what is leading many competitors toward a fruitless state of uniformity. They’re all saying the same things and trying to lead the customer to the same conclusion.

Eager to demonstrate their “proof-of-authenticity,” many of these same executives are afraid to leave any spec for scrutiny or proof point out of their sales proposition. The extensive detail is perceived as validation. This “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” approach is an easy way out. And, its net effect is usually the exact contrary of what was intended. This plain vanilla granularity just causes more puzzlement that doesn’t help in any sales conversion or market expansion. Besides, there is brand degeneration resulting from decentralized company silos – corporate divisions and operating units which propagate self-styled messages, positions and identities, often ill-timed, hastily designed and poorly executed.

Think Smart and Work Hard
Product Differentiation and Service Demarcation is often the result of simply noticing what your competitors have overlooked and providing that instead of everything else. Think of the Apple iPhone or Gmail. A lack of sacrifice represents unripe positioning.

If your message designs are based on what really interests people, and how they can talk to each other and make easy comparisons, you will find that you can say a lot less. Strive to find and use the language and questions that real people use.

The Truth is Out There
Let your hair down for a second: When you visualize the triumph of your business, is it based on the way things ought to be or the way things really are? The act of arranging information for simplicity then becomes an act of brand and market insight.

Amidst a flood of new age propaganda and mega-efficient delivery mechanisms, human communication is still very much grounded in some enduring truths, and the maxim that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it is indeed one of them.

While technology is changing exponentially, the hearts of the people using it are inflexible to transform. Most of what’s being sold today as new insight is merely the rediscovery of knowledge we’ve had for centuries but perhaps not acknowledged. The trick is to admit it and leverage it to your advantage. Candor is a guiding principle and Authenticity provides understanding that transcends spin and packaging. As experience counts, you could also learn from the marketing gray hairs who’ve been through a business cycle or two.

Give What the Audience Wants
To see sales patterns and develop a marketing message that incites a desired result, start with age-old human nature, not cold corporate logic. Hence, the content of your brand message must communicate genuinely in the language of the intended audience. For a brand or image to break through the information overlaod and market sauration, it must be based on what the target audience perceives as indispensable and relevant to them. What they want to know and need. Not what you feel is imperative or exciting to them.

Technology can help and create exhilarating opportunities but it can also overwhelm us with choices. Codifying, collecting and making everything accessible in nanoseconds is less important than describing how it’s used – the application context. Instead of speeds and feeds or the rate of data, concentrate on describing your brand’s spirit and how it relates to your audience, reflecting on the people connection and your brand’s heart.

If you wish to harness technology efficiently, improvise all the time and focus on the things that happen behind the patented breakthroughs. Recognize that the real goal for the technology is for it to be as transparent and useful as possible.

Content is still the King (and the Queen too)
Content is and has always been the language of customers. And as mentioned earlier, remember to always communicate from the intended listener’s point of view, not your company’s. Start your brand messaging where employees and customers meet, work backward from their needs. By the way, cracking the code on your customers’ needs and priorities can’t be accomplished “inside”. The key lies outside your business and perhaps outside your industry.

If all else fails, revert to the inevitable and basic questions of your customer: How is your product useful to them? What value does it provide? What’s truly in it for them?

In this sense, your content should be much more than words, pictures and voices. It should evoke emotion – a deeper connect. It should be simple, insightful and compelling. And, it is perhaps Content - the one thing one can't teach a computer to generate, so there is a uniquely human dependency. Respect that. After all, the content you develop is what will help you bond with your customers and if driven right, help you achieve world-class results.


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