The shift in the dynamic between customers and companies has changed in an extreme way over the past few years. Consumers are savvier than ever. And so building brand advocacy takes a new approach. The goal is no longer to sell a product but rather to make a meaningful connection.
Let’s look at one of the most well-known examples of this in the tech space: Apple. The launch of their iPhone was revolutionary. They sold the first tablets to consumers who thought of themselves as visionaries and ‘first adopters’. Apple cultivated a strong brand personality based on nonconformity, innovation and creativity. You can see this come to life in their ‘Think Different’ campaign that appeals to the non-conformist population. I carry an apple device, therefore, I am innovative and tech-saavy.
The automotive manufacturer, Subaru is another company that employs this technique. Instead of the cliche, stereotypical way to sell an automobile (e.g., listing safety features or the attractive look of their vehicles), they simply show Subaru cars that have been in disastrous accidents, followed by two words: “they lived”. Nothing more needs to be conveyed as the words along with the visual expresses the solution of safety and confidence. They are tapping into those customers who believe their safety is the primary driver for a car purchase. I care about my family, I drive a Subaru.
Another great example is Budweiser. Budweiser may be one of the most popular beers in the country. And they have made history through the use of heart-warming commercials featuring their Clydesdales horses. Their stories have become some of the most beloved in the nation as viewers easily enter the world of emotional connection through an animal. We share in the bond of the caregivers, young colts, horses and especially the puppies. Their use of emotion touches the core of a human bond that runs deep. Choice of beer is often less about the actual brew and more about the connection to the Brand. I feel good about drinking Budweiser. They are a great American company who love horses and puppies and celebrate American life. I drink Budweiser because I am a patriotic American.
While not everyone has the ad budget to pull this off, we can all take conceptual ideas and realign them to fit a powerful brand message. Marketing guru, Simon Sinek shared the secrets of why some companies become great in his 'Start with Why' Ted Talk. He explains that the best companies address three areas of importance and make sure that the answers resonate with the public:
1. Why: This is the core belief of the business. It's why the business exists.
2. How: This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
3. What: This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.
Sinek indicates that most companies do these things backwards. But the winning companies have solutions that appeal to their consumers in the exact way that they need.
The challenge of marketing is to find the power in simplicity. When you focus on your core beliefs and connect with the core motivation of your customer base, you market your brand in the best way. Let your customers know why you do what you do, how you go about it, and what your product solves for them. What is the 'Why' for your brand?