We typically define brand as a promise, a means of differentiation in a crowded marketplace, an essential idea that holds a unique place in people’s minds.

Yet this perspective often, though perhaps unintentionally, defaults us to a company first approach. We as marketers and developers strive to create a product, mark, positioning message, experience, that is unique, memorable, authentic. In this statement alone, it’s easy to see that the purpose is to gain attention for ourselves — our product — not to address a fundamental need or provide a human benefit. We maintain that we are put the customer first, but despite our good intentions, this is usually just lip service. We talk about creating meaning, yet often with just a cursory appreciation for what people really need.

This is not to put down marketers, I am one after all. But rather to acknowledge how easy it is in a complex MarTech ecosystem to oversimplify the end-user value of our efforts.

We agree that the purpose of a brand is to deliver on a promise, to provide meaningful value to customers. Yet, we inundate them with content on the premise that we are creating relationships when in truth we are just filling inboxes with stuff only we’ve deemed worthwhile.

We create addictive media because we can — it’s fun. We distribute it across channels and devices because we have to — that’s where our customers are. The more time people spend with our content, measured with increasingly sophisticated analytics and lots of thumbs up, the more we high-five each other that we’re creating loyalty and relationships that will result in increased sales.

We’re engaging in “real conversations” because people are mentioning us, and we’re tweeting back. We tell ourselves that it is our customers who are creating our brand because they are incorporating it into their lives in new ways — ways we couldn’t have even imagined — though we did nudge those ideas along with an inspired Instagram campaign. We’re building a customer-first brand with a capital C!

But are we? As product developers, marketers, and branding experts, are we really giving people what they need? Are we honestly putting customers first? Or are we using that mantra as a justification for the investment made in keeping their attention for another minute longer each day? Do we have real empathy and compassion for them as humans? Or are we just trying to find more exciting ways to jump higher, yell more loudly, and wave our arms more frantically in a room crowded with competitors and other distractions who are all trying to do the same thing?

Are we creating real value? Or is it better that we begin to ask ourselves, who is it that is deriving the highest benefit from what we’re producing?

As a hypothetical example, consider a product that is truly beneficial and socially responsible — lets say a magic soap that makes you healthier, is organic, sustainably produced, benefits local underserved communities, and more. Great, that’s value. Now suppose in an effort to raise awareness, images of that brand show up 100 times a day on every piece of media you touch, throwing up full page pop-ups that block the article you want to read, filling your email and post box with daily ads that contain marginally relevant content, and interrupting your meditation time with airplanes flying banners overhead. See the disconnect? And yet, if the company doesn’t build awareness, they won’t be viable.

At every touchpoint, in every product attribute, with every piece of content and mediated experience, do we ask ourselves, how is this creating value for the person using it? Is that branded accessory going to make a person’s life better, or is it just a good way to keep the brand front and center on their desk? Is that clever video going to improve a person’s day? Or will it be two more minutes of distraction? In a recent Digitas blog, Chief Content Officer Scott Donaton writes, “The best content proves worthy of the investment of both a person’s time and a brand’s dollar.” Truer words could not be said.

To be fair, for branders, marketers, content creators, and product developers, the person at the other end of the brand experience isn’t our only ‘customer’. If their well-being were our only concern, we might well reconsider the frequency of our drip campaigns, the need for full-page pop-ups, or the proliferation of CTAs. Brands have a complex ecosystem of beneficiaries we consciously or unconsciously take into account — for better or worse. Were it not for those CTA’s inviting visitors to download gated content, uploading them into a CRM so they can received a personalized email to subscribe to a free trial, inspiring them to upgrade to premium, company X might not generate the revenue to retain their current staff, or meet quarterly dividend projections for investors.

For all the emphasis placed on customer (i.e., end-user) value as the flag on the hill we must run toward as our singular goal in the brand experiences and content we develop, we need to step back for a moment and be honest with ourselves. We need to stop pretending that the 100K likes on our promoted Facebook content, numerous reader comments on our blog (to which we nearly always reply), and e-newsletter with 20K subscribers are verification of the meaningful relationships and value we are providing. Of course, these are critical metrics and ignoring them would be foolish. If you want to call numbers in a dashboard ‘value’, that’s fine. Just pause before you call it a validation of meaningful interaction.

If our goal as brand creators and evangelists is to deliver meaningful value, we need a framework that better represents the ecosystem in which we work. We need to parse out ‘meaning’ and ‘value’. We need a framework that considers the value we are delivering not only to customers and potential customers, but also to stakeholders whose well-being relies on the health of our company — employees, investors, and the community that is affected by our products and brand. We need better ways of evaluating the value of our efforts aligned with their true purpose.

Brand positioning, also referred to as a positioning strategy, consists of creating a unique impression in the consumer’s mind so that the consumer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.

Brand positioning is key to build TRUST, especially these days in the new business ecosystem. So, If you ne look for experts to help you achieve this brand strategy goal feel FREE to contact us.

Denise Klarquist

Denise Klarquist specializes in helping small and medium-size companies and organizations build visibility and brand credibility to support revenue and growth goals.

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