Brands matter to businesses for the simple reason that it usually follows that building a successful brand means increased revenues. But why do brands matter to everyone else? Why do brands matter to customers? What is it that they value that means they part with their well-earned cash?
The way consumers think about brands is in bundles of ideas. These ideas all mean something. There are five key reasons brands matter to consumers:
1. Brands make decision-making more efficient
2. Brands minimise risk
3. Brands create identity
4. Brands create feelings
5. Brands connect
Let’s take each of these an think about them for a moment.
Brands make decision-making more efficient
Customers need to achieve something. They need to make a decision on how to achieve their goal. They have limited headspace so convenience and familiarity become key drivers.
Imagine you visit your local supermarket. You need around 20 household goods. As you walk around the store you will find yourself gravitating to familiar brands that you trust. They have delivered what you need at a price point worth spending in the past. You trust them. You will probably be in and out in a matter of minutes.Now imagine the same task in a foreign country. A country you do not know the language of. You’ll be faced with a number of new brands you’ve never seen before at unusual price points. Now how long will the same task take? An hour?
This demonstrates how brands help consumers make swifter decisions. Brands make it easy. They are sign posts to meaning. We don’t have time to analyse every feature of a product so we go with what we know. This explains why brands that are first to a market often dominate.
Consumers subconsciously are asking this question: “Will this do what I need it to do?”. If the answer is “I don’t know” then there is work for you to do.
Brands minimise risk
If a brand has delivered in the past in one area we trust it will deliver again in another area. If we’ve had a great experience once we believe we’ll have a similar experience again. We believe there is less risk of wasting time, money and energy because of past experience.
Consumers subconsciously are asking this question: “How much hassle will this be?”. If the answer is “I don’t know” then there is work for you to do.
Brands create identity
Brand’s make us become something. They say something about us and how we fit into the world. They help us create a story about ourselves that enforce what we believe and how other people see us.
Take car brands for example. Volvo says you take safety seriously. BMW that you’re sophisticated. Land Rover that you are practical. Meaning is created by the way these brands show up in the world. This meaning exists in the hearts and minds of consumers and exists beyond the practical features and benefits of a product.
Consumers subconsciously are asking this question: “What will this make me become?” If the answer is “I don’t know” then there is work for you to do.
Brands create feelings
The experiences that surround brands create emotional responses. These should never be under estimated. People ultimately want to feel good and brands which take their customer experiences seriously find that customers come back for more.
Think about the amazing customer service you get when you visit an Apple store. Think about the quirky comment printed on the underside of an Innocent smoothy which says "why are you looking at my bottom?!". Think about the business training where you feel euphoric and inspired by what you can now achieve with your learnings. Think about the fuzzy feeling you get from buying Toms shoes knowing they will be giving someone less fortunate than you a free pair of shoes with a fraction of your purchase. These all help us to feel something human. Something emotional.
Consumers subconsciously are asking this question: “What is this experience going to feel like?” If the answer is “I don’t know” then there is work for you to do.
When you buy from a brand you have something in common with others who have also been attracted to and have purchased from that brand. Others will look at you and think - "they are one of those people". Mental associations will be made. You will probably share something with those other people. A way of seeing the world. Simuilar values. You'll possibly have similar challenges and problems.
Brands have the power to connect these communities and build value into these associations that can become unrivaled. Consider the classic example of Harley Davison. Yes they sell bikes. But they also sell community & connection with others. Together these things create belonging.
Consumers subconsciously are asking this question: “What community am I going to belong to?” If the answer is “I don’t know” then there is work for you to do.
See your brand from a customers perspective
So have a think about your brand. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. Ask yourself these questions:
1. How do we make decision making easier?
2. What risks do we help customers minimise?
3. What do our customers become if they join our brand?
4. What experiences are you creating for your customers?
5. How can you connect audiences?
It is in these five key areas you’ll be able to build huge brand value.