Building an extraordinary brand in a post-advertising world.
“Only Connect…” E.M. Forster’s famous and overused injunction has, for many people, become a rallying cry for the radical connectivity that 21st century technologies have given birth to – we can’t get enough of this quote. This stems from the fact that so many in our business still don’t get it. But, what we like about it is not just the idea of connectivity; it is, as Forster said, the need to “connect the prose and the passion”.
The dark side of modern technology is that it can actually isolate people as opposed to bringing them together. It can create an “artificial” sense of connection and an alternate digital reality that is, well, kind of not about human interaction at all (yeah, that’s right, it might be time to stop staring at that smartphone screen and actually have a conversation with somebody). That’s why “passion” is such an essential element of the kind of connectivity we’re talking about. As marketers and communicators our task is to engage, not just connect.
“Passion” is an essential element of the kind of connectivity that builds extraordinary brands. As marketers and communicators our task is to engage, not just connect.
Brands are not built by advertising or by a cool image and a hot slogan. Those things may occasionally help, but the best brands don’t just push a message or a look. Rather, they’re built by emotionally engaging your audiences and turning them from targets into fans. Rabid FANS. Brand engagement is about sharing passion and extraordinary experiences—which, in turn, will be spread like a virus. Not just by you, but by your customers.
A brand idea, the right idea and experience, is potentially more powerful now than at any time since homo sapiens started sharing words and pictures. Great brands build business. And a brand gets great when the consumer embraces your idea as their idea.
The right idea connects and engages. It’s an idea that informs, inspires – and whose relevance and meaning amplify the impact of your marketing by turning your audiences and communities into brand advocates. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking retail products, professional services, educational institutions, oil and gas companies—whatever your market or discipline—there’s an idea with a human element that can help boost the awareness and appeal of whatever you’re doing and move you closer to achieving your goals.
Whatever your market or discipline, there’s an idea with a passionate, human element that can help boost the awareness and appeal of whatever you’re doing—and move you closer to achieving your goals.
Alright, but how?
So how do you develop the right brand idea? Which one will contribute most to your success? How do you find the passion?
The first step is a process of discovery. We recommend hiring professionals to help with that. While we’re partial to Cult’s approach, many brand-consulting firms have some sort of strategic planning model or process that will help you uncover the true and most compelling “you”. It helps to work with someone who has a robust logic to their planning and enough experience across many industries and disciplines that they’ll know how to make it work for your particular situation.
Along with the process of discovery, it is also valuable to craft a brand platform, positioning concept and strategy that can guide and inspire you in building or enhancing your brand. When done right, the strategy will leverage all the assets you have in building the equity and competitive power of your brand.
It’s imperative that you objectively step back and look at who you truly are from a variety of angles.
You may think you know who you are but until you’ve objectively stepped back and really dissected your true essence in relation to both your mission and your customers’ needs, and differentiated it from what others in your space are doing, you will have not developed the foundation for a truly extraordinary brand.