Becoming a “GO-TO” brand?

Barnaby Wynter on Nov 4, 2021 5:34:18 PM

There are two key communication strategies for almost every business. You either are driving market growth or you are chasing brand steal from your competitors.

In the years of Marketing 2.0 (The industrial revolution) and even 3.0 (The technology revolution), market growth dominated as a strategy. Almost everything we found out about through advertising and other marketing felt like something totally “new”.

Indeed, if you got to market first, you usually had a bit of a run before a competitor emerged and it was claimed first to market got double the share of second to market who in turn got double the share of third to market and so on. All those that followed use a brand steal strategy. Why they were better than the No. 1.

That’s all changed.

Now first to market does all the heavy lifting. They research and develop new approaches, create a new market and the competitors all watch and then swamp the new market with new better versions using more efficient distribution channels, better resources and probably an existing buyer base. Yours.

In many ways a market growth strategy is foolish, you are better off adopting a brand steal strategy.

What are you stealing?

Well in business plan terms this is market share. In truth you are getting people to break their contract with one product or service and take on a better one with you. But this rational approach is unlikely to be enough, the switch only takes place when you steal their heart as well. A buyer needs to fall in love with your offer so they become almost irrational when they switch.

This is where your brand plays its most critical role.

Getting to the heart of brand

You can pick up almost any book with brand in the title and find that none of them define brand. In many ways it is why the marketing industry has a jack of all trades feel about it. Buyers of marketing services end up with a confusing array of different approaches to brand.

In 1999 I spent three and a half months working with 15 other brand creation experts to develop the following definition:

Brand is every experience that affects the relationship between a product or service and its buyer.

There are three key elements to this definition which have absolutely stood the test of time, if not getting stronger with AI just around the corner.

Key definition Point 1 - A true brand only exists in our minds when we become a buyer.

Until you have parted with one of your two available currencies, time or money (money being a pecuniary version of time of course), you cannot judge the true value of your purchase.

Prior to purchase, any viewpoint associated with the product or service you are considering is merely opinion. Each interaction with a brand builds confidence that it will deliver on a promise and when this reaches the buying tipping point you hand over your hard-earned cash and become the owner of the product or service and, as a result, are totally responsible for its use.

Without the responsibility of ownership, you cannot have a true sense of brand.

Key definition Point 2 - A brand is a relationship.

It is not a logo, look and feel or a style often commonly misrepresented as a brand. This is branding not brand. (To be fair it did define brand in the days of the now defunct USP which really only required branding).

Brand is a relationship which you value more than the money in your pocket.

Portrayed well, a brand will of course entice the money away from the buyer in exchange for a promised relationship (value) that would otherwise be difficult to recreate themselves for the same amount of money.

Key definition Point 3 – Brand affect comes from every experience

Marketing is the only discipline in the business toolbox that can deliver systemised relationships which can be applied across all business systems and processes.

As it should be.

This third key element is that brand operates at every level of a business and as a result, the buyer experiences your brand promise at every point of their relationship with your product or service.

With the buyer in full control, they are constantly looking for inconsistencies in this promise.

A missing part, a poor set of instructions, a bad interaction with a member of staff, bad service, the wrong order, slow response or a website that doesn’t work just scratch the surface of things that contribute to a dilution of confidence in your offer.

Every experience has to be brand led so that a relationship results which people are attracted to, feels like it works specifically for them and justifies the investment of time and money.

We’re all now in the business of relationships

The role of marketing has changed because the way people buy has changed

It’s a buyer’s market, it really is. No-one wants to be bombarded, shouted at, made to feel inadequate, overwhelmed, deceived or cajoled into making decisions.

Yet much of the marketing industry relies on taking your message and your money and distributing it to as many unsuspecting souls as possible. Try going to an industry exhibition and time how long before your head hurts and you are overwhelmed. Now, whilst you may have attended an industry led event on purpose, most of us are busy leading our lives and are focused on coping with an ever-changing world.

We ignore most messaging until we need something, in the knowledge that when we do need something, we can just “Google it”.

In just a few minutes on the web and you can qualify if you have a real problem and what solutions might be available.

Soon you are deep into comparing one brand relationship with another, checking out what others experienced with your product or service through peer reviews, trust pilots, net provider scores or just simple recommendations from those that have already experienced or bought from you.

Most of these are flawed because no two needs are satisfied in the same way.

That said whilst we are all different, it is hard not to be influenced by the experience
of others.

It’s time to help buyers make sense of it all

The downside of the new information economy is that it can be too much. Even if you can work out where to start getting the right information, it is almost impossible to know where to stop when you have enough.

The secret to becoming a GO-TO Brand is that you can help.

And help big time.

If you design your engagement strategy right, you can guide your prospect through all the good stuff, help them design a solution that suits just them and in doing so get them to buy from you.

It is a case of helping them making sense of their buying decision.

High Anticipation – dashed in a click

But be careful, raising expectation is completely destroyed in an instant. In helping people make sense and get ready to buy do not go back to the beginning by providing irrelevant information about the organisation, a set of products that are not what is required or running systems that are founded on “can I help you” but then simply don’t deliver. If they can’t help, why are they working there?

This is a simple failure to understand that in getting to this point in the first place, the buyer has readied themselves to know what they want, why they want it and now they just want to buy it.

This is a brand owner’s nightmare, a sophisticated buyer being served by the lowest common denominator so as not to offend anyone. The trouble is, it offends everyone. Unless the purchase desire is strong, many will turn away and go somewhere else.

Becoming the GO-TO Brand relies on engaging with those that are heading your way already, helping them make sense of your value at first point of contact, nurturing their understanding, assisting their purchase and of course delivering on your promise.

Now we are beginning to see the emergence of a system and process for your marketing if not your whole business.

Barnaby Wynter

Barnaby is a brand creation expert with over 457 to his name. He is the founder of The Brand Bucket® Company pursuing a vision to help every business in the world create a brand that matters by making their marketing work.
Daily marketing tips at 3.57pm @thebrandbucket