Uberbrand Managing Director Dan Ratner states that brand success is more about attitude than the product itself.
Today’s highly commoditised marketplace is flooded with products that may come from different manufacturers, but are often alike in function and quality. The discussion comes down to how a brand differentiates itself from the competition when so many products from different brands are essentially offering the same.
Dan Ratner explains that a brand isn’t just a product or service; it is the sum of everything the customers think about the brand. Marketers need to tap into their customers’ lifestyle preferences to build long-term relationships with them.
1. Define your customers through their attitudes and ideals
Customers don’t necessarily buy a product for its features; they buy it for how it makes them feel. The manufacturer must therefore understand the drivers to purchase to maintain loyalty and attract new customers. Key drivers may include the desire to appear a certain way, such as fashionable, alternative or wealthy. People rarely purchase a sports car just because it can go fast and has brilliant handling. Most buyers will never have the opportunity to fully experience the true depth of those features. Rather, buying a sports car is about displaying wealth and success and being part of an exclusive club. By knowing how their customers want to feel about themselves, the manufacturer can build their marketing campaigns around these ideals.
2. Give your brand ‘attitude’
Some of the world’s strongest brands never even show their product. For example, a brand such as STA Travel markets adventures and experiences, not airline tickets. Sol Cerveza markets itself as ‘the taste of freedom’. Use the customer definition to build a brand attitude that they will identify with. Think about where they are going, what kind of jobs they might have and their political attitudes. This is what the marketing campaign should reflect. Whatever the product or service, it is easier to attract customers when they can see themselves reflected in that distinctive brand ‘attitude’.
3. Shift away from feature-based marketing
Given that many products, such as smartphones offer similar functionality, some providers have in response, made a clear shift away from marketing product features to marketing a lifestyle. The queues outside Apple stores when new products are launched (even when there is little difference to the previous version) is evidence of the power of creating an attitude towards the brand that makes people feel they must have the latest model.
4. Let go of internal agendas and keep perspective
During a product development process, it can be difficult to maintain perspective but it is important to let go of internal agendas. Developing the latest cereal for example, might be the biggest thing in the company for some time, but it is really not an important part of most people’s day. The key here is to focus on who the customer is for that product and how that product fits into and reflects their lifestyle – both real and aspirational.
5. Be careful not to go too far
It is easy to lose credibility, so be realistic with the brand. A brand attitude must be built up in consumers’ minds.
In 2012, car manufacturer Mazda used the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax as a brand tie-in to market its SUV, even going so far as to mention that the vehicle had the ‘truffula tree seal of approval’. While the brand was attempting to tap into a currently-popular film, the disconnect was so obvious that the campaign backfired spectacularly, resulting in brand damage for Mazda.
Dan Ratner observes that there is a fine balance to be struck between creating a brand attitude and appearing insincere. Marketers must really get under the skin of their customers to determine who they are and how they want to feel. Once they understand this, they can create marketing campaigns that are highly targeted and will ultimately bring on board more loyal customers.