Every morning when you wake up, shower, get dressed and fix your bed-head hair you are creating the image of yourself that you want the people around you to see. That image represents the version of yourself you want people to base their first assumptions on. Your brand is exactly the same. You are responsible for manufacturing its personality and image and in turn manufacturing the reaction that people have when they interact with one of your branded touch-points. Every touch-point a potential customer has with your product should be tailored towards making their experience easy and effective and encourage them to interact with you again.
So ask yourself; what reaction do you hope to receive? What do you want people to think when they see your advert, your product, your logo? What do you want them to feel? The answers to these questions should all be reflected in your brand's identity.
People's identity is a complex combination of how they feel, what they are doing, who they are with, how they present themselves and how they are developing. Again, your brand should be much the same. People's needs must be met in order for them to grow and so must your business’. This is a concept explained by Abraham Maslow, a human psychologist who developed Maslow's Pyramid of Needs to visualise how and when people can develop (McLeod, 2020). You start at the bottom of the pyramid where basic needs are all you require (food, water, shelter). Once those are obtained one can begin to build safety and security then develop relationships, build trust and finally, only once you have reached the top of the pyramid, you can begin to achieve your full potential.
Here are five steps you can take to build and shape your business’s identity and allow it to move up its own pyramid and stake its claim in the marketplace.
Define Your Business Values: Ask yourself what beliefs and values are at the core of your business model. Do you care about animals or families or speed of service or lowering the carbon footprint of your products? Identifying and promoting these values will help you stand out in the marketplace, attract like-minded customers and give your brand a beating heart that will help guide your decisions. This is the equivalent of the first step on Maslow’s pyramid. Like people without food, a product without an intention will struggle to thrive.
Know The Problem You Solve: People buy products to make their lives easier or more enjoyable. If you know exactly how you help people then it will be much easier to make that clear to them. The market is saturated with new products and fads and gimmicks and so to really capture the attention of quality customers your product needs to stand out and be clear as to what its purpose is. Match up the problem you solve with a level on the hierarchy of needs. For example, toilet paper is an essential item. Everyone buys it, and everyone needs it, so a price point difference of 20 cents a pack probably won't give you an edge over your competition. However, selling a deluxe version or an environmentally friendly version might. Find your Unique Selling Points and use them! (More on this later!)
Identify Your Target Customer: Now you have the ‘Why’ and the ‘What’ of your product the next step is identifying the ‘Who’. This step is much easier once you have decided what values your product promotes and what problem it solves. All you have to do now is think about what kind of person would share your values and have that problem in their life. For example if you are selling helium birthday balloons, a sure-fire way to get a better return on investment is perhaps, instead of advertising to everyone with a birthday, advertising to a target audience of females between the ages of 17 and 25. This demographic is one that would appreciate your product and is likely to be having a milestone birthday at some point soon (18, 21, 25). Perhaps look for those with active Instagram accounts who have been researching venues near your business location. This stage is related to the middle tiers of Maslow’s pyramid; psychological needs and relationships. If you research your customers’ wants and needs they will feel supported and understood by you. In the way people need to feel a connection with other people, your product should be connected with its target audience. Your customers should feel a relationship of some sort with your company. An emotional response is a memorable response and is good for maintaining and growing your customer base.
Know Where Your Customers Are: Marketing is expensive and you don't want to waste ad dollars on promotions that fall on deaf ears. Now you’ve solved the "Who", the next step is "Where". Where are your dream customers spending their time? Are they online? Are they at events and trade shows? How can you help the people who need you find you? Also important to think about is what your dream customers will respond to best. Do they like punchy, in-your-face adverts or smooth subtle relaxed adverts? Do they like branded merchandise or free samples or flyers in their letterbox? What advertising style promotes your values, shows your awesome problem-solving ability and suits your voice? If you are selling a product that your customer could buy from any number of other vendors, you have to have some promotional feature that encourages them to go to you. Are you cheaper? Quicker? More attractive? Do you offer a more enjoyable service? The key to getting the most bang from your marketing buck is delivering the right message to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
Have a Clear Visual Identity: Find your USP (Unique Selling Point) and make that central in your branding and ads. How are you different from your competitors? What do you offer that others cannot? How will your potential customers know this? This step moves your business into the top tiers of Maslow’s pyramid. Self-actualisation, achieving potential and growing creatively all connect with your brand. Your brand should make an attempt to communicate your products’ identity through colours, logos, pictures and design. Investing in a good graphic designer to help you create a strong brand identity and brand guidelines is essential in creating a cohesive and recognisable brand that resonates with your audience.
And there you have it! Five steps to a better business that is more sure of itself, more clear, more effective, more relatable and more connected with it's (hopefully) ever-growing customer base. Before you know it your brand-baby will be playing with the big kids!
McLeod,S. December 29 2020, Simply Psychology [Online]. https://www.simplypsychology. org/maslow.html, 19/01/2021.