3 Questions Every Brand Must Answer

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.” Stephen Hawking

Why do some brands grow explosively when others (that could be thriving) die a lonely and forgettable death?

Some companies think it’s how deep one’s pockets are. But Microsoft, with its deep pockets, has proven time and again that this isn’t true (their Zune MP3 being one of the most notable). It’s not the size of the wallet but what you do with it that counts.

Other brands assign explosive growth to “luck” but, as we all know, “It’s bad luck to be superstitious.” Maybe, they’re suffering from some “illusions of knowledge” when some factual proven insights will reverse their “luck.”

Social Media Isn’t the Answer

Social media might be the answer if (and that’s a big if) you have your brand voice clarified and crystallized. So a first question must occur before any communications are being exported across social media or any other channels.

What You Must Ask of Your Brand

Who are we, and how do we relate this idea in a way that’s meaningful to our customers and the values they hold dear?

In other words, one must define something meaningful. To do that, one must identify to whom this must be meaningful.

A great sports car that goes from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds is just a fact. To the wrong audience, it’s irrelevant. But to the right audience, it’s a passion.

This is vitally important, especially when rebranding.

From the first question written above, we actually end up with three:

  1. Who are our prospective customers?
  2. What are their values and priorities?
  3. Who are we and are we a passionate extension of those values?

A Passionate Extension? Learning from Apple

The biggest mistake brands make are trying to “sell their stuff” rather than clarifying what people are actually buying.

One of the best examples of this was when Apple launched the iPod. They didn’t try to “sell” another MP3 player. No. What they did was embrace the values of their audience. Let’s look more closely.

Looking at the above 3 questions, here’s how Apple applied this:

  1. Who are our prospective customers? Apple identified those who grew up on computers and had a passion for their music.
  2. What are their values and priorities? They like music. They live on their computers. Apple closed the loop with the introduction of iTunes that made instant gratification possible, turning every computer into a checkout counter.
  3. Who are we and are we a passionate extension of those values? We love music and access just like you. Their values are: Music. Now. Everywhere I go.

How did Apple embrace this? With 5 magical words: 1,000 songs in your pocket.

How One City Applied the Above Principle
(To Grow 500% in 12 Months)

A Midwest city needed to attract tourists. To do that, we implemented the above questions.

  1. Who are our prospective customers? Families, friends and groups that enjoy travel, discovery and quality time away from home.
  2. What are their values and priorities? Being cared for. Being catered to. Discovering new things. A wide variety of interests and forms of entertainment, activity and venues for enjoyment.
  3. Who are we and are we a passionate extension of those values? We are people who love life, love good times and embrace culture in all its forms.

How did we bring this to life? By isolating key attractions to these travelers and bringing them to life in way that had not been done before. Below are examples of posters that 19,000 cars passed by everyday, each and every week.

The result? A crushing 500% increase in walk-in tourists in the first 12 months of this campaign launch. That’s 5X from the day of the launch.

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How Your Brand Can Win

Three points every brand needs to answer:

  1. Define your prospective customers,
  2. Define their values and priorities, and
  3. Define how and where we can be a passionate extension of those values.

Do those to win.

Ignore those and one’s brand will shrink and, having less and less influence, will perish.

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