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Branding Rule: Customers Are Not Numerical Targets

2014 Branding Rules eBookThis post is an excerpt of our Branding Rules eBook.

Branding means so many things to different people that it has become nebulous. It’s called the “secret sauce” of marketing, but what does that mean?

“Secret sauce” might mean sriracha to some, Tabasco to others, or the intangible and often unidentifiable ingredient that we all seek and/or covet.

We cleared the confusion by gathering 14 branding experts and asked them a question: “If you could impart only one piece of advice about branding, what would it be?”

We compiled the results, added illustrations by Gapingvoid’s Hugh MacLeod, and created the 2014 Branding Rules eBook to provide a resource filled with timeless advice to guide your business’s branding efforts.

Here’s advice from Ellis Pines, Vice President of TMP Government:

Branding Rule - Ellis Pines

Like Shel Israel, Ellis Pines gives attention to conversations but emphasizes that branding must include viewing the customer not as a statistic, but as a person with dreams and desires:

Branding involves finding the most profound connection of an organization or offering and externalizing that concept with its audience.

Most brands connect with audiences in ways that are easily duplicated by competitors. Conversely, most attempts at differentiation end up trivial. That is why I encourage clients to ask, ‘Why does our brand exist? If it didn’t exist, what would our audience do?’ before externalizing any connection or message.

Such questions lead ot what Leo Burnett calls the ‘inherent drama’ of a brand: Where does the brand resonate? What kind of archetypal patterns does it bring forth? For Burnett, it was taking a nondescript, menthol cigarette designed for the female market and investing it with the mthology of the American West. For Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, it was realizing that ‘in the factories, we make cosmetics; in the stores, we sell hope.’ For Fred Smith, it was knowing that FedEx was not selling a delivery service but ‘peace of mind.’

Every company and product that exists can tell this kind of story, but it only occurs through research and empathy. You must understand the recipient, who is the customer, not as a numerical target, but as a person, just like you, with aspirations and dreams.

Want more branding advice? Get your free copy of the Branding Rules eBook now!

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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