By Gair Maxwell
Have you ever stood by and watched while a well-intentioned business owner rushes down a one-way street marked "advertising tactics" or "marketing message" before taking "brand strategy" into account?
It's enough to make you scream "STOP"!
Two questions to consider.
Question #1: Does it make business sense to burn marketing energy, fuel and money without first determining the branding and business strategies that drives these messages and tactics in the first place?
Question #2: How many business owners are aware of the significant difference between developing awareness & getting some attention as opposed to inspiring attachment?
Effective "branding" that drives business results has little or nothing to do with logos, taglines or advertising strategies. Creating "awareness" or attracting "attention" are not the be-all, end-all when crafting a compelling, sustainable, emotional brand.
Flooding airwaves with radio ads, splashing billboards all over town or begging for likes on a Facebook fan page might get people to notice, but does it inspire them to buy or fall in love? Just because there are lots of people and companies who believe in and practice "pray and spray" advertising, doesn't mean it works or gives you great mileage for your ad dollar.
Uncommon success (enjoyed by brands like Apple, Harley-Davidson, NIKE, Starbucks and the city of Las Vegas) lies within your ability to create a powerful story or message that inspires a level of attachment, bordering on that which is primal. It is precisely the same strategy adopted by the best brands in the world as they focus less on products and services and much more so on the story ("I'm a Mac", "Just Do It") they represent.
Story-based brands have absolute clarity on what they are really selling; in a way that that transcends the actual products or services.
Successful brands have unusual "clarity" on what they are really selling, before shaping the powerful stories that will communicate that idea. This approach is crucial if long-term success and effective deployment of your marketing budget and time is important to you. In other words, once you have established a brand that actually represents a powerful idea (with a well-told story to back it up) only then can it be communicated through specific marketing platforms – everything from websites to washroom advertising; from radio ads to billboards, brochures and beyond. Otherwise, you run the risk of marketing without meaning and betting your budget on the flimsy, here today-gone tomorrow tactics of creating awareness or attracting attention.
If you compete in a category where all products/services are essentially the same (at similar price points), what is the powerful, Ferrari-like idea that will separate you from the pack? What "story" could be developed that transcends your products and services in a manner that reflects timeless, universal human values?
How many more customers and talent could you attract and retain if you walked a dirt road less-travelled; paused and thought strategically about what is required for your enterprise to inspire attachment?