"Sometimes brand success isn’t about product at all, it’s about attitude." These are the thoughts of uberbrand managing director Dan Ratner, who believes that a brand isn’t just a product or service. "It is the sum of everything your customers think about you.”
To successfully market a business, he believes it's essential to tap into your customers’ lifestyle preferences to build long-term relationships with them. He offers the following five tips for success in that endeavour:
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. In order to maintain loyalty and attract new customers you must understand the drivers to purchase. These 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 of likeminded people (other sports car owners). Once you know how your customers want to feel about themselves, you can build your marketing campaigns around these ideals.
2. Give your brand ‘attitude’
Some of the world’s strongest brands never even show their product. For example, brands like STA Travel market adventures and experiences, not airline tickets. Sol Cerveza markets itself as “the taste of freedom”. In doing so Sol has identified what matters to its target market – fun and freedom – and created an attitude that matches. Use your 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. Then think about how your marketing campaign can reflect these. Whatever your product or service, it is easier to attract customers when they can see themselves reflected in your distinctive brand “attitude”.
3. Shift away from feature-based marketing
Smart phones all offer similar functionality; meaning brands are now fighting a loyalty battle. Although they continue to innovate and add new features, these are quickly copied. In response, some providers have 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
Sometimes when you are involved in developing a product from the beginning, it can be hard to maintain perspective but it is important to let go of internal agendas. Developing the latest cereal in your range 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 your 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 your 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 (obviously fictional) “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.