Have you ever noticed how some brands become a part of our everyday lexicon seamlessly, many of them overnight? It happens so fast that we don’t have time to stop and ponder how they got there.
Before social media, brands used to have more extended branding power. By there being fewer options and a consumer base less preoccupied with being catered to, brands could establish themselves as category leaders for decades. The rise of social media and new generations has wiped that away and turned the market into a real brand democracy. Brands need to be relevant to survive. However, achieving relevance is no easy task. Brands must provide value to their customers by understanding the market, knowing who their competition is, and, most importantly, being authentic to give themselves a chance to be relevant.
Value, the core of what a brand stands for and symbolizes, is built before its inception. What is your brand promise? Are you going to cook the best noodles in town? Are you going to provide the best customer service? Are you going to give the best experience in the cannabis industry? Value is the thing that is going to differentiate your brand from others in the same sector.
We cannot aspire to be relevant by making assumptions as to who or what our market is. For a brand to be relevant, they must first understand their business model. Is your business subscription based? Are you going to have dynamic pricing? Do you plan to strictly sell online? Once a brand has their business model, they can proceed to find out whom their consumers are going to be by identifying their age, gender, race, where do they consume content, geography, and who belongs to that community. Millennials and Gen-Z generations behave very different than older consumers. Because they are digitally native, they want to feel right about the brands they associate with purchase from. Once they fall in love with a brand, they are more willing than an older generation to spend big on your services or products. That is why it is essential to have a clear understanding of who is your marketing audience.
It is imperative that brands know against whom exactly they are competing. There is direct competition and indirect competition. For example, most businesses nowadays are competing with Amazon, but it is also essential to identify which local companies are in the same sector or is anyone else besides Amazon selling what you’re selling online. Once you understand your competition, you can learn from what they are doing right and wrong for their business. Use them as a sort of feedback loop. That will help you, as a brand, to figure out creative ways to differentiate your positioning.
As brands continue being more transparent and accessible, authenticity becomes increasingly essential. Every brand has something that makes them authentic. You need to figure out what that is and exploit it. As consumers become more digitally native, they also become more skeptic. People have more access to information, which allows them to figure out which brands are being authentic and which are not more effectively.
Brands that are relevant are significative, collaborative, and visible. However, there is no one way of achieving relevance. To become it, you must first figure out your brand ethos and how it’s going to differentiate you from your competition. Simultaneously you have to know who your core consumers are, and if you are marketing to them appropriately. However, none of those things are going to propel you to relevance if your brand is not authentic. There is more information available and, therefore, there is more brand cynicism than ever. Brands need to be authentic over everything. Moreover, that is our recipe for achieving brand relevance in 2019.
Miguel Miranda is the Founder and Chief Designer Officer of Muuaaa Design Studio.