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Why B2C Branding is Really a Management Tool

This is a guest post from D Branding.

Is RedBull the best energy drink?

It doesn’t really matter if it’s the best since it’s been the biggest brand in the energy drinks category for 20 years. Why? Because RedBull has built a great brand.

What do we mean by that? In 2014, AdAge Magazine wrote about RedBull: “Having a better brand is better than having a better product.”

Trader Joe’s won the second year in a row as the American’s favorite grocery retailer on the Dunnhumby customer data survey. Why? because Trader Joe’s is always on-brand.

Have you heard about Walker & Company? Shinola? Moosejaw? Casper? They are all new companies with huge success. Moosejaw was acquired by Walmart for $51 million; Walker & Company was acquired by Proctor & Gamble. All these companies have something in common, you guessed it — they all have strong brands.

Today, branding is more important than ever. When you are on-brand, it means you manage your company based on the brand’s DNA. You use the brand as a management tool to make sure every aspect of your business — internally and externally — is derived from the brand personality which is aligned with your customer’s personality.

Here’s how you should approach branding and use it as a tool to manage your entire B2C business.

Think beyond the logo

Branding is not as easy as you may think. It’s not just a good-looking logo. In fact, the logo is now less important than ever. The brand personality is much more important in a world where the logo is seen mainly on a tiny mobile screen.

So how do you build a brand personality?

Think of the product or service you sell as if it’s a person:

  • Who is your brand?
  • Is this person young or old?
  • What personality traits this person has? Playful, serious, or adventurous?
  • What are this person’s values? Beliefs?

Brands are like people, in a lot of ways. You need to think about what your brand stands for. Remember the Nike ad with Kaepernick? It wasn’t about a shoe; it wasn’t about any product; it was about values. If you don’t define your values, you can’t connect with your buyers on that deeper level. 

Connect with your buyers

What does it mean to connect with your buyers based on values? Mike Duda, Founder, and Managing Partner of Bullish, a tech accelerator and investor in Casper says:

“Casper is focused on the benefit, not the feature. People want to buy into something better. They’re buying into a set of values.”

Forget about the features of your product. You can have the best product, but it doesn’t mean anyone will buy it — let alone will buy it again and again, write about it on social media, take selfies, post super positive reviews, and so on.

Customers buy because the brand is aligned with their set of values and beliefs, or because it makes them feel a strong emotion. You can do this a number of ways — from the subject matter you put in ads, to the story you tell, to the platforms you engage on. But you always have to be thinking about conveying your specific brand values in every interaction with customers.

Emotional marketing works

Just recently, Victoria’s Secret announced it will close 53 stores this year, in addition to the 30 Victoria’s Secret stores closed last year. On the other hand, Aerie, a competing underwear company by American Eagle, is getting bigger and bigger, with a steady growth of market share.

Why? Because of the brand values.

If Victoria’s Secret is about super glamourous models retouched to death in Photoshop, Aerie’s models are regular women that have scars, stretch marks — you name it. They never photoshop imagery in ads, on the website, or on social media.

This is called delivering on your brand. If the brand’s value is that a woman doesn’t have to be a skinny model to be beautiful, then that’s what the brand communicates, constantly. Aerie’s message resonates more strongly with many women, which is why they’re thriving and Victoria’s Secret is not.

These are just a few examples of why it is so important to be on-brand. There are many more, but you get the idea.

Branding from the beginning

If you are working on a new business, it’s much easier to build your brand personality from the start. It is highly beneficial to work on your brand in the early stages, because when you know your brand, you have clarity. And when you have clarity, you have confidence and can take the right steps to manage your business growth according to your brand values.

For established businesses, it’s much harder to find the brand’s core or build brand personality, let alone start managing the business to align with the brand. Often, stakeholders have a specific perspective of the brand that doesn’t align with the consumer point of view. It’s always harder to push an entire large organization to change how they do business according to your new brand.

But at the same time, it doesn’t matter if you run a small business or a huge one. You must be consumer-centric and not product-centric to do things right — think about the customer, not the product and definitely not the business.

It is not the 50’s when people bought because they needed. These days people buy because they want something. So why should they buy from you instead of another brand? Not because of the features of the product, but because your brand makes them feel a certain way. That’s the true power of branding. 

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