The Story of What Generates Long-term Success for a Retail Brand

The Story of What Generates Long-term Success for a Retail Brand

Consumers today are more informed than ever. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it’s a growing trend that marketers need to continually adapt for. As such, content’s role is more important than ever in reaching and engaging consumers to create a meaningful relationship. The cutting edge brands have adapted by evolving the brand marketing process. Instead of standing for something to their audience, their brands are standing for something with their audience.

This approach has immense potential as it creates context for personalized interaction between the brand and the individual. The approach is also conversational, which lends itself perfectly to a marketing landscape that is increasingly social. It builds a deeper degree of consumer sentiment, psychological linking how they feel about a cause or activity to how they feel about the brand that stands with it.

A primary way in which brands are doing this is through storytelling – the practice of creating an authentic and inspirational experience that gives your brand deeper identity and connection with the consumer. A recent report from Skyword titled A Study In Brand Transformation stated that “companies are starting to invest in brand storytelling roles. 28% of enterprise companies have a designated content marketer and 33% have an editor.”

As big brands vie for attention, the need for them to tell their story and differentiate themselves is one of marketing’s top priorities as well as biggest challenges. With all the information at their fingertips, people are more empowered in the decision making process. They are more conscious about their purchases, looking beyond the price tag and instead asking themselves if the brand’s actions align with their own. Industry leaders have identified this and have shifted focus accordingly. It is precisely this trend coupled with the growing consumer distaste for advertorial marketing that is driving the rise of content marketing of which storytelling is a major component.

Or as Tom Laforge, Global Director of Human & Cultural Insights for The Coca-Cola Company pointed out:
“The harder we compete, the less differentiated we become. As brands sell on functional benefits (what the product is and does for me) and emotional benefits (how I want to feel in this occasion), category after category is being filled with nearly similar products. Large established brands are losing loyalty and marketshare to newer smaller brands that offer social and cultural benefits. It’s a billion dollar paradigm shift.”

He hit the nail on the head. Talking about your product, the problem it solves or how it differs from the competition isn’t effective anymore for big brands. Neither is just an emotional, aspirational advertising message. Effective marketing that is resonating with today’s consumers has moved on to an increasingly genuine form of storytelling. Brands defining their purpose as standing for or helping to accomplish something is great. However, so many companies are stating their values and defining their social responsibility that it’s losing its impact among a sea of competitors without this experiential storytelling component.

A lawyer might tell you that technically you own the brand, but we all know that consumers pull the strings. They are the ones that we have to reach, engage and retain. Brand positioning after all is not defined by the marketer, it’s defined by market sentiment toward a given product or service. By telling a brand story that establishes a purpose that is aligned with an audience’s purposes, brands create an inclusive story that people will want to engage with…maybe even share!

Let’s look at the mission statements for Pepsi and Coca-Cola as an example:

Here is Pepsi’s:

As one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, our mission is to provide consumers around the world with delicious, affordable, convenient and complementary foods and beverages from wholesome breakfasts to healthy and fun daytime snacks and beverages to evening treats. We are committed to investing in our people, our company and the communities where we operate to help position the company for long-term, sustainable growth.

And here is Coca-Cola’s:

• To refresh the world
• To inspire moments of optimism and happiness
• To create value and make a difference

If these were posts on Facebook, which would you share? One is about the brand acting for the consumer; the other is about the brand acting with the consumer. Pepsi’s messaging seems almost anachronistic considering the size of the brand. Coca-Cola’s mission is open-ended and conversational. Everyone has something to say about each of the points.
Brand storytelling that is inclusive creates a new phenomenon where brands become platforms for conversation and change. Whether the cause is collaboration, sustainability or fulfillment, industry leading brands are redefining their identity to facilitate change through conversation and action. The end result for these brands is deeper relevance with their audience and increased engagement that creates more profound positive interactions and memorable experiences. This is what generates long-term sustainable success for the brand.

Source:
Skyword.com “A Study in Brand Transformation”

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Reckitt Benckiser Professional (RB Pro) Division Product Brochure Series Vision partnered with RB Pro to develop a new brand identity and positioning for their line of professional products that was to be unveiled at an upcoming trade show. The new positioning was...

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Quick Guide to Digital AcronymsDigital marketing has changed the way businesses reach consumers. Along the way, the industry has developed its own vocabulary filled with catchphrases, technical jargon, and abbreviations. In order to help you stay up to speed, we’ve...

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

About Finlandia®: Finlandia is famous for their quality and craftsmanship when it comes to their butter and cheese. Finlandia makes their delicious products using some of the purest milk in the world from small family-owned farms in Finland. These small Finnish farms...

Vive la Différence! Putting the spotlight on your brand’s points of difference

Vive la Différence! Putting the spotlight on your brand’s points of difference

 

In the battle for consumers’ attention, there’s a tendency to try to be all things to all people instead of focusing on the unique features that separate you from the crowd. Consumers may be interested in claims of better services and products, but what’s even more important to them is: what do you offer that the competition doesn’t?

Several years ago, we were having trouble finding a reliable, cost-effective source to handle the printing and micro folding of tiny packaging inserts for a client. Sure, we knew many quality printers, but none that could do miniscule folding in house, and the job was too big to risk using someone we didn’t know and completely trust.

We mentioned our situation to a sales rep for one of our long-time printers and, lo and behold, she said that she could handle the entire job. Her company ended up printing and micro folding the inserts for us, and the quality and price were so good that we continued to use and recommend their services.

So, why didn’t we already know that this printer did their own micro folding? Simple… they didn’t mention in it on their website or anywhere else! Why? Apparently, they had acquired the folding equipment and know-how after revamping their website and marketing collateral and just never got around to updating them with this information.

This story illustrates how important it is to consistently review your points of difference and make sure that they are clearly communicated to consumers. Soon after completing our job, the printer updated their website and marketing materials to prominently feature micro folding. But by then, they had most likely already missed out on countless opportunities from the pharmaceutical industry and others requiring this special service.

How can you be sure you are not overlooking a service or feature that differentiates your brand from the competition? The first step is an internal review with your entire team where you make a list of all your points of parity and difference, making sure to highlight any new ones you may have recently added.

Your customers can also help you identify your unique offerings.  In a previous blog posting Responding to Your Customers, we discussed the importance of listening to your customers on social media. It’s also a great way to learn what they find to be special or superior about your products or services.

Customers aren’t shy about letting you know what they do (and don’t) like, and they just might lead you to points of difference you never realized you had. Sometimes you learn that what’s most important to them is something you didn’t expect.

If your company is not very well known, you will probably want to communicate all your points of parity as well as your points of difference. However, those with a more established reputation may choose to focus almost exclusively on the distinctive qualities that set them apart from the competition.

A few of the most popular unique selling propositions include Domino’s Pizza’s promise of “fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free,” TOMS shoes’ commitment to give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of TOMS purchased, and, of course, M & Ms claim that they “melt in your mouth not in your hands.”

However you don’t need to be a large company or famous brand to benefit from a killer proposition that attracts more business. Recently a nearby diner placed an ad on a roadside billboard that provides an excellent example of identifying and putting the spotlight on a unique selling proposition.

This restaurant already has a strong local reputation for the quality of their food and huge serving sizes, and most people in the area regularly drive by their sign announcing these two not particularly unique features. So what did they put on the ad? An image of a craft-style cocktail in a mason jar and a short text referring to happy hour.

The ad is noteworthy for clearly presenting an appealing point of difference in a simple, direct manner. It says to the consumer: Sure there are many restaurants in the area offering big servings of tasty comfort food but only one also has a hip bar where you can hang out and order special drinks. And, by extension, it makes the diner seem cooler and more modern than the competition.

Does it feel like you and your competition are communicating pretty much the same messages to consumers? Tired of simply repeating how much better you are? If so it’s time to step back and take stock of what makes your product or services unique.

With the input of both your team and your customers, there’s a good chance you’ll rediscover at least one point of difference and maybe even find a new one. When you do, make sure you communicate it clearly and repeatedly!

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Reckitt Benckiser Professional (RB Pro) Division Product Brochure Series Vision partnered with RB Pro to develop a new brand identity and positioning for their line of professional products that was to be unveiled at an upcoming trade show. The new positioning was...

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Quick Guide to Digital AcronymsDigital marketing has changed the way businesses reach consumers. Along the way, the industry has developed its own vocabulary filled with catchphrases, technical jargon, and abbreviations. In order to help you stay up to speed, we’ve...

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

About Finlandia®: Finlandia is famous for their quality and craftsmanship when it comes to their butter and cheese. Finlandia makes their delicious products using some of the purest milk in the world from small family-owned farms in Finland. These small Finnish farms...

Making Your Marketing Heroic

Making Your Marketing Heroic

Why comics? And why Comic Con? In light of its explosive growth and popularity, one obvious and very important dimension is what Comic Con’s ongoing presence says about contemporary culture and consumers. For no one who is involved with or interested in Comic Con can fail to appreciate the passion, imagination and creativity on display – on the parts of the producers as well as the fans. Cosplay alone should tell us about the dynamic transformation that so-called consumers have undergone in recent years. Just ask the major recording labels.

Regarding all forms of new media, much has been made of attention deficit. About online gaming, social media and graphic novels critics frequently contend that the influence of these has been uniformly negative and that attention deficit disorders have grown proportionally as the prevalence of new media has increased. But what if sometimes it’s not a deficit at all? What if it’s, in fact, boredom or impatience with predictable content? or an unwillingness to sit through yet another spectacle of Beginning-Middle-End when the outcome was already determined by the single frame? Is it attention deficit that makes graphic novels so popular now? or is their popularity a recognition that their multiple and complex framing and invitation to condense and read complexly BETWEEN frames are suited to the intense and HIGHLY focused energies of contemporary readers? And the fact is, they are better suited because from one perspective, today’s readers are potentially (an important discrimination) more informed, more demanding than any previous group of readers in history. There is potentially more information at the tip of a finger than any one reader can ever process. And the resulting message from that reader? Simple: “Don’t waste my time telling me something I already know but instead allow me to skip around, discovering and creating as I proceed within my own sequence.”

Put another way, the message for marketers from Comic Con is: Make your content be at least as rich, complex, varied and imaginative as your potential customers are. For if we accept it as fundamental that adult humans seek above all else to be able to exercise their faculties at large in a complex world, then it follows that no one struggles through the travails of childhood in order to be spoon-fed as an adult. And if, as a marketer, you are confident in the quality of your product or service, then assume your potential customers to be as creative in their appreciation of that product or service as you and your company were in developing it.

Because form is everything. And the form in the sequential art of comics is participatory. Another way of put-ting this: there is – formally – an enormous DIY element in Comic Con. The question is: why is that so appeal-ing to contemporary readers (read: customers)? One reason may be that we are quintessentially incomplete, the only animals who are… that is, unfinished. It may seem at times like restlessness, but equally, on the positive side, it may also be an irrepressible urge to explore and, being incomplete, we have all that possibility to – frame by frame – reveal and/or string together into new or unanticipated results.

In other words, instead of “marketing AT” your customers, market WITH. “Invite” your customers to fill in the blanks, to jump ahead, sideways, back, to PLAY with the content.

Why? Because in doing so, customers not only learn about themselves but equally, learn about YOU while enjoying learning about themselves. And there is always the possibility that the answers uncovered in either or both of those reflexes may be the most gratifying of all – and that in that new-found identification the perfect space for your product or service is uncovered.

There are many insights to be taken away from Comic Con, but foremost has to be the understanding that today’s consumers are the most sophisticated in history and that communicating with them must be equally sophisticated. We all need to understand that – in the contemporary world – if we underestimate our customers, there will always be someone else who won’t.

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Award-Winning Design Series: Reckitt Benckiser Professional

Reckitt Benckiser Professional (RB Pro) Division Product Brochure Series Vision partnered with RB Pro to develop a new brand identity and positioning for their line of professional products that was to be unveiled at an upcoming trade show. The new positioning was...

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Do You Speak Digital Marketing?

Quick Guide to Digital AcronymsDigital marketing has changed the way businesses reach consumers. Along the way, the industry has developed its own vocabulary filled with catchphrases, technical jargon, and abbreviations. In order to help you stay up to speed, we’ve...

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

Award-Winning Design Series: Finlandia®

About Finlandia®: Finlandia is famous for their quality and craftsmanship when it comes to their butter and cheese. Finlandia makes their delicious products using some of the purest milk in the world from small family-owned farms in Finland. These small Finnish farms...