If you read Brand Strategy: How To Fuel Consumer Motivation, then you’re well aware of the fact that consumers don’t buy the product, the service, or even the brand… they are buying the end result. They are buying the benefits and solutions.
The end result, the solutions, and the benefits are essentially feelings that humans desire on the deepest level – joy, fullness, satisfaction, happiness, confidence, acceptance, etc. Anything we really do, anything we pursue, we do it to experience some form of these positive feelings.
If we were to boil down brand marketing to the core…
It’s how well you can associate your brand, in the mind of your consumer, as being the BRIDGE to the end result they want.
Your brand is the face of the product or service that’s going to get them to those feelings. Just like we have physical bodies, made up of our inner biology which is capable of accomplishing many things… Our physical appearance, the way we present ourselves, our name, our tone and communication style… all of these are elements of our personal brand.
How well people associate your name with how well you can do something for them, is the strength of your personal brand.
It’s not about amazing your service is. You could be the best lawyer in the world, but if you haven’t built your personal brand and no one can look at you and instantly become aware of their desired end result, then you’re depriving not only yourself of business, but also the world of your true capabilities.
The lawyer is the bridge to the settlement. It’s a painful bridge to cross for most people – one that costs money and time… and the experience to the end result is never really pleasant either. So in law firm marketing, the main focus is usually on the end result… never on the experience getting there – “We will win your case”.. etc.
So what does this REALLY mean for brand marketing?
In between your consumer and their desired end result, is a bridge. Your product or service is that bridge. Your brand is the promise of how quickly/effectively/inexpensively/pleasantly (depends on consumer needs)… will your consumer get to the end result. If they care about safety, your brand represents a safe passage to their end result.
If your consumer could have it their way, they would eliminate that bridge and get their desired end result INSTANTLY. Which makes sense. We all want instant gratification – for everything! We don’t like things out of our control – like spending time to get what we want and having to walk across those bridges. We view them as obstacles. Things that aren’t avoidable. Things that separate us from what we want.
Key Insight: Your product is your customer’s obstacle.
That might be difficult to digest. No matter how much you think your brand or your product is special because it does so much for your customer – it’s still the obstacle that the customer has to get around to get what they want. It’s a hassle.
Your consumer has to actually pay money for it. They have to give up their time as well, to cross that bridge. I’ve met a lot of brand and business owners who have grown to be so attached to their product or service that they associate their own sense of pride with it. It no longer becomes about finding the customer… it becomes about ‘the customer will find our product because it’s clearly amazing, and if they don’t want it, then that’s unfortunate for them’.
That’s probably the main reason why us brand consultants get clients. It’s because we don’t have any attachment to our clients’ business or their brand, so we see everything from a third person perspective, from the consumer’s perspective, and we strategize and advise accordingly.
If you could see the consumer’s perspective, marketing strategy would come naturally and logically. You wouldn’t need to hire consultants. Sharing that insight is probably not in my best interest… but regardless, why is this concept extremely important for you to realize?!
Well once you understand the idea that your product isn’t this amazing gift to your consumer, that it’s actually an obstacle, NOW you can be much more strategic when you try to market it and present it in a way that your consumer will find appealing… because now you’re seeing THEIR perspective.
Now you’re in their mind with them. You can build a connection. You now have the ability to be their friend, not a salesperson. If you read Marketing Persuasion Strategy: The Deep Psychology of Consumer Persuasion, then you know that consumer’s don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. Friends shop together, they encourage each other to buy things that are GOOD for them, that will make them happy. They even ask each other’s opinion. Imagine the strength of your relationship with your consumer, if they’re asking YOUR opinion on what to buy.
Well the first step to building a strong brand-consumer relationship is realizing how your audience views your product. The next step is positioning your brand to be completely synonymous with the end result. If you have a bridge in front of you and can’t even see your destination, how likely would you be to cross it?
And you need to remember that consumers do have one thing in their control… and that’s the ability to choose from different OPTIONS.
Enter brand competition.
We buy cars to take us places. Our goal isn’t the car… it’s the destinations the car will take us to. If we had the option of teleportation, we would happily choose it and never drive again. But since teleportation is not a current option, we need cars (the bridges to our goal).
The best thing we can do is hope that crossing the bridge will be a pleasant experience in itself. We look for what can be the best in-car experience. That experience itself, can be a selling factor. So different car brands sell different experiences while driving. They target different feelings. Volvo targets the feeling of safety. Mercedes targets the feeling of prestige.
Something to think about: Knowing that your product is the obstacle, the bridge, to your consumer’s end result… what would define the best ‘bridge-crossing’ experience? What would define the most desired products or services?
I think the ultimate definition, the ultimate strategy, is that if you can create an experience for your consumer that is so pleasing as they travel to their end result… that your consumer actually FORGETS about the end result because they’re lost in the experience… that’s when you can quickly and easily rise to market leadership.
Make them want the experience of crossing the bridge, MORE than they want the end result it gives them. Make the end result a BONUS. Who really cares about the destination when they’re driving a Lamborghini? Who really cares about the health benefits of getting relevant vitamins when they’re chewing on a tasty gummy multi-vitamin candy?
1) Make your brand synonymous with the end result
2) Make the experience of your product or service (crossing the bridge) more appealing that (or just as appealing as) the end result
You have a sure winner if you employ both rules – but that’s not always possible. It depends on a lot of factors. BUT you can always employ one of them. Most companies employ can only employ one.
Eating at McDonald’s is about the experience, not the end result. The end result usually leaves most people feeling guilty. Same with drinking Coke, it’s about the experience. Drinking Diet Coke however, is about the experience, but it’s also positioned in a way that ‘it’s not that bad… don’t feel guilty… because it’s diet Coke!’.
Sometimes real-estate agents aren’t able to guarantee that their clients will get the house of their dreams, but if the clients know that the real-estate agent’s service is extremely pleasant and that he or she will try their best, etc…. if their clients know the experience dealing with the agent will be a comfortable process… that’s enough for the clients to give the agent their business. But what if the agent has a successful history and can promise the client what they want, PLUS promise a pleasant experience as they work together? How easy would it be for the agent to build his or her brand? Others would actually build it for them.
I started writing this post to explain the psychology behind how consumers view obstacles and what that means for your brand marketing strategy – but it took a little turn. In the next post you’ll learn 2 ways consumer’s react to obstacles and how by knowing this, you can be sure to INSTANTLY and significantly prevent a reduction in brand equity.
More importantly, you will learn how to leverage human psychology to build a brand that lives in your consumer’s mind… because that’s what Brand Marketing Psychology is all about.