Build Your Brand Without Sacrificing Performance

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Marketing efforts of the past were a lot less complicated. Your media buy might have included a hero TV ad, a drive time radio spot, some carefully selected print ads or maybe a billboard or two. Your options for buying space were limited and the audience you targeted didn’t shift their media behavior with that much frequency and was fairly easy to find. And, maybe most importantly, it seems like you had a lot more time to build your brand and your brand’s identity. But today many brands, especially DTC brands, need to prove their business model and achieve performance and ROI almost immediately.

So, what can a marketer who needs to build a brand but also see results quickly do so that they don’t sacrifice the brand in favor of performance? If you focus on establishing performance-based goals and remember that building a brand has always been more than just producing a bunch of assets, you can succeed in spite of changeable mediums, constant media and consumer behavior shifts.

Always Remember What You Are Selling

Marketing and selling are not the same thing, although they are both extremely important parts of a brand’s success. DTC brand Casper launched a set of cryptic subway ads featuring a series of icons and letters that form a puzzle related to sleep. A cat plus a snap plus the letter s equals “Catnaps”. The ads are in the now-familiar, pale Casper palette and include the simple tagline, “Sleep is the answer”. Today it is not surprising that these ads come from Casper but a few years ago we would have been shocked to see ads like this coming from a mattress brand. When Casper launched its company the mattress category was full of old-school marketing tactics like traditional TV spots and magazine ads promoting Memorial Day sales and showcasing available inventory. But Casper leveraged storytelling in new ways to both drive rapid growth and performance while also building a brand on a new kind of conversation about mattresses, one that focuses on the importance of sleep. Rather than marketing something a customer rarely purchases, they took a product as simple as a mattress, and turned it into a lifestyle.

Maybe we can’t assign all of that massive growth to their ability to tell stories across platforms, but it has definitely helped Casper disrupt its category by reminding consumers that mattresses are really about sleeping and turned Casper into the expert on helping you get a good night’s sleep. If you expect to be successful at selling your brand to people, the first step is making consumers feel like they can’t live without you.

Don’t Jump The Gun

Warby Parker CEO, Neil Blumenthal, made a statement during a C-Suite conversation at the NRF retail conference that takes a surprising stance on what most of us think is one of the biggest challenges of modern marketing. “For me, omnichannel is just simple,” Blumenthal said. It is an interesting comment to hear from somebody who figured out how to make a brand that was built on a mail-order, DTC model work across almost 100 retail, brick and motor locations.

Before anything happens, you must start with the customer first. Warby Parker needed to expand its offerings to grow its customer base and continue catering to the needs of its customers. By opening retail locations, Warby Parker could provide on-site eye exams, the ability to try on as many frames as they wanted, and the opportunity to purchase. Not only did Warby Park have to imagine how their singular on-line-living brand would translate into store windows and in-store signage, they had to reimagine their great on-line and phone customer service becoming a face-to-face experience in their stores.

They know that understanding a customer – their behaviors, frustrations and needs – will allow you to identify what unique value you can bring to them. Then, and only then, can you identify and execute an omnichannel solution that provides an optimum experience by connecting all aspects of customer engagement. When it comes to an omnichannel approach, knowing where you want to go is half the battle, but the bigger obstacle is determining how to get there.

You are defined by your purpose

Your purpose and your brand’s reputation go hand in hand. When you’re starting from scratch, think about who you are and what you stand for. From there, you can look for opportunities to share that information through content, helping to attract like-minded people who will form an emotional attachment to your brand.

There has been a lot of focus on purpose-led brands lately. Brands like Patagonia, which declares that its brand purpose is: We’re in business to save our home planet. While your brand purpose doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, saving the world like Patagonia’s is, but you do have to have a purpose that is well-known and is the North Star directing all your efforts. Take Samsung, which is focused on creating “a better world full of richer digital experiences, through innovative technology and products.

Over the years Samsung has done some amazing TV campaigns that highlight the way their technology connects people. But all of their efforts center on their purpose, not their products. So, while going into a Samsung store can be a pretty epic impressive experience, the reason they built that amazing experience is to remind you yet again about how their digital experiences can make the world better. Finding a strong agency partner is one of the best ways to help you figure out what your purpose really is and then create the deliverables that share the purpose.

Understanding what you are selling, who you are selling to and what your brand purpose is the best way to accelerate business growth. Especially because consumers increasingly want brands to predict their needs and desires, have a clear brand purpose and prove they will be with them for the long term. Using performance-based goals and a commitment to those three basics of marketing will help you build a brand that will thrive in an uncertain marketing environment.

Christian Hughes

President and Principal at Cutwater

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