Sun 24 Aug 2008
While reading my Marketing Profs emails this weeks (a subscription I highly recommend), I came across some good reminders that product and service providers often forget when it comes to communicating the functional ("tangible") and emotional ("intangible") attributes of the brand:
Research shows that each attribute plays a different role in customers’ evaluations (what they like) and decisions (what they choose). Specifically:
- Customers tend to place more weight on a product’s intangible attributes when deciding what they like.
- But they place more weight on its tangible attributes when they’re choosing what to buy."
They do play different roles, but they go hand in hand. This is the foundation of branding: building a desired impression and consistently framing it in the terms of your target.
Most people with some branding experience have probably heard of the Brand Pyramid. Though there are as many variations as agencies out there, it’s role is to clearly identify how the brand will uniquely satisfy customers in both tangible and intangible ways.
Like building anything, it starts at the bottom and works up. Once you have identified the most ownable, compelling attributes of your brand or product (according to what you researched about your ideal customer, the competition and the marketplace), you then summarize the functional benefits to the customer: what’s in it for them? This ladders up to the customer benefit: what solution are they seeking overall (based on customer insights and marketplace trends)? Then, ultimately you describe how your brand is that emotional solution to your customers’ needs: how will you make your customers feel? Finally, you summarize your brand with one simple statement serving as the core differentiator of your brand as a whole.
Assuming this exercise was informed by a lot of research, diligence and internal validation, this pyramid will serve as your guardrails for making decisions about the marketing plan and activation investments. A clear understanding and connection to the brand is critical for all members of the organization, from customer service to upper management.
For instance, if you determine your company’s brand is all about healthy living made fun, would it make sense to acquire an event booth at that famous all-you-can-eat rib festival? Sure, it might be one of the most highly-attended gigs of the season, but that association would damage your brand credibility with healthy living.