This blog was written by Minnesota School of Business-Richfield (MSB) student Taylor Smith as part of her internet marketing class this quarter. Taylor will be graduating this month with her associate degree in business administration. She will be returning to MSB to pursue her bachelor’s degree in business management with an emphasis in human resource management.Taylor is also an MSB student-worker and campus events coordinator.
What is a brand? In this video, customer insight expert Maurice Allin defines it in a new way that reflects the society we live in today. “An act of making meaning,” he says.
This may be a bit different than what you might have thought. However, with our technologically savvy society and largely competitive market, companies must begin to develop a more meaningful message and a more relatable brand for their customers.
Marketers these days need to expand beyond just an image or phrase to describe them as a company. They need to develop a brand story. Maurice Allin makes an interesting point about the moment of truth in a relationship with a customer:
“What we’ve learned is that most of the moments of truth that really count … happen after the purchase. So the buyer journey is not just how I think about my relationship or potential relationship to a brand. It’s not just about how I purchase that product; it’s much more about how I live with that product after I have made that purchase.”
Successful brands are not only seen, but also understood. My two years spent at MSB have proven just that. I use this as an example because there is not a day on campus that passes when I don’t truly feel that common goal pursued. From the never failing smiles upon entering in from the bitter Minnesota weather, to the gracious support and motivation by the staff and faculty alike, as a student I feel I am always in good hands. The brand is “We care,” and that means something to me every day.
Figuring out your brand is no longer about the customer’s voice but instead about what they ARE NOT capable of saying or possibly even knowing. Looking back at my initial search of potential colleges, I did not know what I really wanted. Who knew that small class sizes would be good for me? Not me, because I was sure that I wanted to go to a school that had a ton of people! Thankfully, MSB created a brand that showed me what my life could be like in their hands.
A company’s—or even an individual’s—brand is a direct reflection of the customer or the people they are trying to reach. Therefore, if you know your customer, you are a master at your brand. The problem at times arises when a company or individual goes through the motions of creating their brand before they even study their customer base. This can lead to missed opportunities for financial gain or an increase in support or involvement.
These missed chances can also be known as opportunity costs. Here are some concepts to remember when creating and developing your brand story. These will give you the tools and information to increase your knowledge of the customer base and in turn, transform your brand image from something they SEE into a brand story that they can FEEL.
- Help your customer envision what their life COULD be like with your brand.
- Present a brand that is something visually attractive AND emotionally appealing.
- Assist your customers in figuring out what they want. People find it very difficult to express their expectations and their satisfactions.
- Recognize the importance of social media on branding. Networks like Facebook and Twitter are great tools to help learn about your customer base and also build both your brand image and brand story.
- Be dynamic and know there is always room for product improvement. Form a hypothesis and then test it on multiple potential groups. Analyze the result and repeat.
- Actively research and observe customer anthropology.
In conclusion, creating a buyer experience journey, or brand story, is not as easy as it has previously been. It is essential that we dig deep into the expectations and satisfactions that the customers may not even know themselves.
Great insights, Taylor! You can read her original post here.