Brand messaging is tough.
In the end, you’re trying to show people why the value of your brand’s product or service far surpasses its cost. But explaining why features and differentiators are important is a big challenge, because “important” depends on how the audience interacts with your product or service...right?
Here’s the good news: Brand messaging isn’t as hard as it seems.
Here’s the bad news: Brand messaging is different than what you’ve always done.
A Problem with Differentiators
Marketers spend time talking about products and features for one overarching reason: it’s what they know. And to be fair, the product or service is what you’re selling. It’s only natural to talk about how awesome it is.
But differentiators have a lethal problem: They’re about the product...not about the audience. Audiences are less interested in how awesome your product is, and more interested in how awesome they are. Talking about differentiators from the get-go is a narcissistic move.
Check out this presentation from Google and CEB on why B2B purchases are far more emotional and drive deeper brand loyalty than any B2C brand.
They Don’t Care about the Brand Message, Because the Message Isn’t about Them
Truth be told, it was never about "the thing" at all—the latest feature, the latest gadget, the nuanced differentiator. Your audience just doesn't care. Maybe it's the fault of unique value propositions pulling marketers toward "the thing"; UVPs are important, but the more that product differentiators become the focus of our marketing efforts, the less our audiences' goals seem to matter. And that's when they stop caring. Or maybe it's a million other things.
Today, the buzzword is "experience," but this, too, can be a distraction. Brands can over-rotate on “experience” when they try to dictate the type of experience a customer should have. To be successful at experiential marketing, you have to help your audience achieve their goals rather than your goals.
As a simple case study, see...all the mobile apps that utterly fail. Or, if you’d like to get more specific, compare the online ordering experience at Panera Bread to that of Corner Bakery. Then take a look at the difference between stock prices in those companies.
Brands that Are Doing This Really, Really Well
Whatever "thing" distracted you before, from now on it's time to refocus. The only thing that matters is what your audience is trying to achieve.
Jay Acunzo, author and host of the marketing podcast “Unthinkable” does a great job of explaining how Death Wish Coffee nailed its messaging. Take a listen here:
The North Face is trying to take on Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and other major sports retail brands. To do it, they have launched a campaign with a video titled “This Is What I Love.” The copy is simple. The message is clear: there are “things,” and then there is purpose. The North Face helps you reach your purpose:
Take It Back to Work
You and your product or service will always be an appendage to your audience’s deeper goals. Make them feel what they want to feel. Help them do what they want to do. Everything else—including your brand—is secondary to that. BUT...the closer you get them to their goal, the more indispensable you become in their eyes. Master that ability, and you are guaranteed to move further faster™.