Understanding your customer is key to your brand’s success. If you recognize the human truths behind why people want to buy your products, you can go a long way to making your brand relevant to them, and therefore, extremely desired.
When companies simply “sell stuff” they become a commodity, prone to the whims of the market. People tend to buy dreams and visions first, and nuts and bolts second.
Just look at Apple for proof in action.
It’s the reason well advertised products command a premium over their generic competition.
Human truths are the connective tissue that allows the viewer to recognize themselves within your brand, and therefore feel comfortable and compatible.
If you don’t hear your audience, you tend to keep doing what you are doing regardless of what is happening around you.
“This would be an awesome business if wasn’t for those darned customers!”
Back in Manchester (many moons ago), an old friend of mine manufactured women’s summer dresses by the truckload. Year after year they kept selling. Then one day his business disappeared. The dresses went out of fashion and he was left still manufacturing those dresses, because, that is what he knew how to do.
You have to be ready to hear what your customers are saying and react accordingly. When you imbue a product with a “voice” or a uniqueness—people are more likely to choose that company (and keep on choosing) because you have something relevant to say. Something that catches them where they are coming from, rather like hockey great, Wayne Gretski’s quote about passing the puck to where the player will be, rather than where the player is (now).
If you demonstrate that you understand your audience, they tend to like you for it. As a brand you should aspire to let your customers know what you stand for and therefore why they should care.
If you think of your business as those dresses mentioned earlier—what is going to take your business away, and how are you prepared to react? If you build a brand around a vision and an insight you tend to remain relevant regardless of market fluctuations.
Had my friend understood his target audience and really listened to their wants and needs, he would have adapted and moved on quickly to respond to what they (and the market) were saying. He had the manufacturing infrastructure, machinery, a pipeline of materials, a distribution network … he could have converted to a different customer product with little pain, had he truly listened his market.
It’s about them … not you
There are many computer companies out there, all making great quality products, all with the latest technologies inherent to their make-up, but there is only one Apple.
Think about it. Apple ostensibly sells the same product as Dell, but they have defined their brand to the point that people are proud to own the brand AND pay a premium for the privilege. So what does Apple do differently?
They understand that computers are actually less about the technology and more about life and style. Steve Jobs and team designed like artists, through beautiful, ergonomic design he captured the minds and more importantly the hearts of consumers.
Simplicity and beauty, backed by revolutionary technology.
The interface and product design are all about the consumer NOT the technology. One gets the sense that Dell just sells computers. Apple could probably make toasters and they would sell… at a premium, all because they have such a strong vision.
Think of the other brands that do this well.
Nike. Are they really just selling sports equipment or are they selling a dream?
Coca Cola. Is it just sugared water or is there something more magical at play?
Even if you don’t have the marketing clout of these brands, the most powerful thing you can do is to aspire to be those brands and capture the hearts and minds of your audience through your vision.
People will follow companies with a vision over organizations with a product to sell, any day. Just ask Starbucks. We pay double for the privilege of holding that paper cup.
While you are reading this.
At the root of every great brand is the understanding of human nature. A science that drives why we do what we do, including purchasing products.
As you are reading this you are probably also thinking of all the things you need to do today—a meeting with management or a party with the family. The fact that I recognize that my reader(s) are probably going through this process is a powerful insight and a human truth that I could harness to make my point—which I hopefully have (if you have reached this point). If I combined this knowledge with my product, I have a powerful selling tool to help me reach you. Obviously human insight has to be somewhat relevant to your industry and customer, but even this isn’t always the case.
So, I have captured your eyes for a few moments, now where should I direct them too next? Hopefully a conversion of some sort.
Brands should leave you feeling that they somehow know a little bit about you—a nod and a wink, a “Yeah I totally do that too!” - call it an uncanny familiarity.
I am constantly trying to open my homes front door by clicking my car keys as if the front door will magically open. When I mention this to friends, it’s amazing how many say “I do that too!” (Maybe my friends and I are just strange.) If your brand has a feeling of familiarity it can be quickly embraced as “part of the family.” Every industry has these human truths and they are there to be discovered and employed. They can become useful ways to connect with prospects AND outgun the competition through striking insights.
You want them feeling: They really understand me! The brand reminds me of me!
As you seek to build your brand, look at all the touch points that your product or service interacts with your target audience and ask yourself the following:
What do I know about my target that can help me connect to them?
For instance, I know you have to go now to check your emails.
See, I knew you would read this.