You don’t buy Brands, you join them

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To be clear from the offset, it’s vital for businesses to invest in marketing strategies with clear CTAs to maintain cashflow but the business owners who focus on building Brand value, will win in the long term, without question. I once came across an interview with Marty Neumeier and as insightful as he always is, one sentence he said, really stuck with me. “Branding is a way to get more people, to buy more stuff, for more years, at a higher price” – Marty has a candid manner in articulating liquid concepts into solid explanations and his breakdown is how I answer clients who have doubts about investing in Brand Strategy. This is vital because it’s by this explanation, that we can explain to business owners our role in helping them achieve ‘Brand empowerment’ which is at the apex of Brand value.

For those of you who don’t know who Marty Neumeier is, long story short, he’s a master of Branding and having worked with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Hewlett-Packard since the 1980s, it’s safe to say that Marty’s experience is immense. He’s written numerous books on branding such as the Brand Gap, Zag and Brand A-Z but it’s in the Brand Flip, where he describes his formula to measure how people regard a company. Essentially, how to measure the value of a Brand.

The ‘Brand Ladder’ is a model he theorised to explain how customers engaged with a Brand and its four various levels is what we can use, when measuring the value of a Brand. Starting with ‘Satisfaction’ at its base, we move onto ‘Delight’ before stepping up to ‘Engagement’ which is just below the ultimate step of ‘Empowerment’. The image below best describes these levels and the ethos of each step. Without generalising too much, I think it’s safe to say that most business owners would look at the characteristics in each of the steps and be able to place their business on one. Part of our job as Social Media Brand Consultants is to explain how our role can help the business move up the ladder.

The great thing about Social Media is that it’s a tool that allows us to distribute content to build Brand value, at a level that was historically unavailable to the majority of business owners. By leveraging the power of social media to garner attention and its targeting capabilities, businesses can hone in on potential consumers who’re predisposed to be interested in their services or products. To do this effectively however a business needs to maintain organic content (that provides value to the consumer), whilst investing in paid advertising to really target their market customers. This should be an ongoing process and if maintained with an effective strategy, the outcome will result in the business moving up the ‘Brand Ladder’.

I want to emphasise at this point that it’s crucial, absolutely crucial, that businesses are putting out content that’s providing value to the end consumer. At the end of the day, if your content revolves around yourself without providing some form of value to the person looking at it, they simply won’t engage with you and without engagement, we can’t even begin to identify the value of a Brand. A lot of businesses underestimate this, which leads them to underestimating the value of Social Media Brand Consultants, or even Social Media platforms themselves. Which is completely fine, if they don’t want their business to become a Brand; the majority of business owners however would want their companies to reach the status of Amazon, Apple or Nike.

Attention will always dictate the success of a business. Having a Brand that is actively engaged with by the consumer, automatically increases its value and provides it with the opportunity to sell its products or services, a lot more effectively than the substitute. Isn’t this what all business owners want for their business at the end of the day? ‘To get more people, to buy more stuff, for more years, at a higher price’ compared to their competitors. A business that has built solid ‘Brand equity’ will aways trump the substitute in its space; this has been proven time and time again. For example, consider the difference in price between products sold by Nike and Starbucks, compared with substitutes in their space. The consumer relationship and reputation built by these companies, enable them to sell their products at a much higher margin – that’s the power of Branding.

Business owners need to be consumer centric and understand how attention is consumed by the audience because comprehension of this, will always put their companies in good stead in the market place. Getting to grips with Branding and realising that Social Media is an incredibly powerful tool to distribute content on, is the best way build Brand equity in the modern era. These platforms are considerably underpriced at the moment and with organic content being completely free, there can be no excuses. Businesses that put in the time and effort into building their Brand, will reap the rewards in years to come. For business owners who lack the knowledge or time but possess the economic backing, you need to get access to a specialist who can help you strategise a plan to grow. Furthermore, if they also provide services to produce the content and distribute it, that’s an even bigger bonus for your business. Just remember that at the end of the day, whether they’re aware of it or not, consumers don’t just buy Brands, they join them; so make sure you shift your mindset to build a Brand and not just a business.

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