I have the privilege with my Work at Speakeasy to have authentic conversations with literally hundreds of the thousands of leaders every year that pass through our doors. It’s amazing to me how many of them don’t understand the importance of brand in differentiating their product or service in the marketplace, and how few of them invest the time, money, and energy to even understand what that means.
“My favorite question when exploring this reality is to ask the simple question…What do your customers feel when they experience your brand?”
The typical response is “what exactly do you mean?” It usually leads to a discussion of marketing budgets and advertising efforts. There are lots of ways to answer this question, and lots of ways to demonstrate the importance of this elusive objective in business success. But one thing is very clear. The marketplace has never been more cluttered with options, noise, and access. The critical advantage to capturing customer attention is “differentiation,” and that is clearly the job of brand positioning and strategy. The late Steve Jobs said it best when he declared to his product team “I want users to “feel” something different when they hold Apple products.”
What I’ve learned from leaders who absolutely get the power of brand in driving business success, is that brand positioning and strategy is not up to the marketing department, the advertising agency, or some outside “brand guru.” No…the answer lies in the hearts and minds of your customers and the ability of leaders to listen to them. Listen to them deeply, and transform what they hear into feelings. And those feelings must be evident in every part of the customer experience without deviation or exception, and companies who invest in this congruency will discover the “differentiation” that drives powerful brands. Apple demonstrated this commitment and belief down to the extraordinary attention to detail in the packaging of their products to what customers “feel” when they cross the threshold into an Apple Store.
So where do you start with your own brand? You start with your own “feelings” and what you can do to help your customers experience those same feelings. Discovering this differentiation is where powerful brands are born, and it’s there where they live and thrive.
CEO of Speakeasy, Inc.
Author of the Amazon Best Seller “DARE!”