Do people understand what your product or service really is or does, and why it matters? Does your brand compel customers to tell others about the product or service offering you provide? Is there a remarkable story behind it, one that lends itself to retelling through referrals?
“Your marketing materials and sales presentations must be designed to communicate your core message of differentiation with complete clarity,” says John Jantsch in The Referral Engine (Penguin Books, 2012). If not, then your brand is at risk of getting lost among the thousands of daily marketing and advertising messages customers receive from print, television, and online.
Brands must have clarity of purpose
In order to be relevant, your products or services must help customers make money, save time or money, or feel better about themselves. Sometimes customers have challenges or needs that are undefined, or that no other brand is fulfilling.
“Clarity is the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways, and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had…the ability to move others hinges less on problem solving than on problem finding,” says Daniel Pink in To Sell Is Human (Penguin Books, 2013). Apple has built their brand based on simplicity and usability, and by finding solutions to problems that customers didn’t know they had and creating products that people didn’t know they would want.
The iPod, iPhone and iPad simplify the music, phone and tablet experience by focusing on usability.
Brands must have clarity of differentiation
Bringing clarity to your brand can be achieved through differentiation; it is often easier for customers to see the benefit of your product or service when compared with another, similar product, instead of seeing it in isolation. Many marketers try to highlight their value through side-by-side feature comparison charts, instead of touting their product or service benefits, and why those matter.
As information curators, it is the brand manager’s job to not overwhelm customers with too much information. According to Mies Van der Rohe, the famous Bauhaus architect, “less is more.” Research supports this notion, and has shown that offering customers too many choices actually leads to fewer sales, whereas fewer choices leads to greater probability that customers will buy your brand (from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, 2005).
Brands must have clarity of meaning
People love good stories. More than a good story, however, people love to share good stories, because it makes them look more knowledgeable, helpful, or like they are “in the know” about what is new and cool. Jonah Berger attributes this to the idea that “people are social animals, [and] love to share opinions and information with others” through gossip or stories (Contagious: Why Things Catch On, 2013).
Bring clarity to your brand by articulating a memorable, meaningful story about it. Make your product or service offering an integral part of the narrative so that people can’t repeat the story without mentioning it. Marketers have been using this trick for years when they strategically place products throughout television and movie sets.
Clarity in branding can be achieved through purpose, differentiation, and meaning.
When marketers bring clarity to their brand through purpose, differentiation, or meaning, they create positive perceptions of a brand in the mind of customers. This not only creates a compelling reason to buy a product or service, but gives them something to talk about and recommend to others.
By: Ryan Hembree, Principal | Brand & Creative Strategy