The Foundation of Branding is an Understanding of the Buyer
Although you may have a great value proposition and products that you believe people will need and want, if buyers don’t equate your products with effective brand messaging, developing sales will be virtually impossible.
If you want to sell a product or service, you have to communicate your brand’s essence in terms of buyer needs and expectations. A clear understanding comes with the development of buyer personas. Personas are fictitious representations of the spectrum of prospects you have. If your product appeals to a wide audience — an automobile, for instance, you are likely to have many personas that help you define varying needs and expectations. If your product appeals to a very narrow audience — a specialized pharmaceutical used to treat a rare condition, then you would have a small number of personas.
If you skip a step, you risk failure
When it comes to branding, even the biggest and best companies make mistakes. You can read about them in the newspaper almost every day. Typically, the reason is because there is a lack of understanding of the buyer’s expectations. Here are a few examples:
Colgate Frozen Dinner Entrees
Few marketers would argue that Colgate is not a powerful brand. When it comes to toothpaste and dental hygiene products, Colgate is one of the best-known names in the industry. However, when the company attempted to leverage its branding capital to extend its product line to frozen dinner entrees in 1982, the campaign failed.
Customers associated the Colgate brand with toothpaste. The brand’s persona and voicing was completely dedicated to illustrating the benefits of choosing their toothpaste over competing products – ready-to-eat dinners simply had no place in that system, and confused customers didn’t buy them.
Gap Logo Redesign
Another example is Gap’s logo redesign blunder of 2010. The company’s iconic logo served to perfectly encapsulate its personality, while the minimal corporate logo it attempted to push on consumers looked like it belonged to a “low-fare spinoff of a major airline”.
In Gap’s case, the logo represented the core image and value of the Gap brand. It leans heavily on the audience expectation that Gap clothing is classic. When Gap stopped presenting itself as a classic company with a classic style and logo, it attached itself to a set of values that Gap consumers don’t value in that brand – that’s just not what Gap is for.
The Smell of Success
On the other hand, luxury brands like Chanel use persona development effectively to meet and exceed audience expectations. Just mentioning the name conjures images of opulence, framed in luxurious monochrome, featuring the world’s richest and most famous celebrities.
The brand’s messaging is so on-point that it manages to allure celebrity endorsers without even trying. Decades of investment in brand imagery have produced a brand so powerful that its number-five logo itself is synonymous with affluence and luxury culture. This carefully cultivated voice never deviates from the core principle that people who are successful and influential use Chanel.