Like the gajillions of other marketing-minded folks out there, I’m a fan of Seth Godin. This week, he put out a short and thought-provoking post about “the people we serve.” His premise is that in order to care for and keep this golden group of people, we must “work to see two things” – who they are and who they can become – with your help, of course.
That is an elegantly simple way of prompting you to remember the power of your brand audience.
He’s right. Audience is everything. Consider billboards. You get one sentence and three seconds to create awareness and interest. What message do you convey? Why that location? Who is driving by? Why do you care about them? Or think about podcast advertising – what does the ad you’re fed across your podcast library say about you and the demographic you must belong to?
One of the very first things we do when helping clients create their brand narrative is to remind them of one fundamental truth.
No brand exists in a void.
What does that mean? Sure – your brand has to go somewhere. It is you in the marketplace. It’s your flag and constitution in the world. That’s just one side, though. The reality is, you can go to incredibly great lengths to create your brand – name it something evocative and attention-grabbing, color it with stunning visuals, and give it a voice that can be heard over all the noise in the market.
And it can go nowhere. Fall totally flat. Be like a Field of Dreams where nobody came to play. Why? Because you forgot the truest reality in branding – the one Seth was alluding to in his post. You may shape your brand, but your audience decides if it works.
Create Brand Love
People fall in love with brands much the same way they fall in love with people. Once they do, they trust you, invest in you, rely on you. To do that, they need to believe that you care about them.
Treat your brand and your audience like two people in a conversation. If you know them well, you can speak to them about things that matter to them in a way that they can hear, understand, and be prompted to care. It brings us to Seth’s prompt to ask:
- What do they fear, what do they believe, what do they need?
- Which doors can we open, how can we support them, what will they leave behind?
These are great questions. It gets the conversation started. The answers begin to reveal how well what you do satisfies what they need. Put it on paper, then go one step deeper. When they decide to listen to, engage with, and trust you, what is driving that decision? Is it:
- Emotional: Do you resonate with them because of deep-seated need? Cultural expectations? Nostalgia? A desire to belong? Something to prove?
- Rational: Do you resonate with them because you offer measurable value? Are you a solution to a problem or the answer to an opportunity?
The success of your brand begins with you, but once launched, its progress depends on your audience. If you know what they fear, believe, and need, and you have a sense of how you can help them in their journey, you have a great sense of how to direct value to them. If you know whether they make decisions about the value you’re offering more with heart or with head, you have the start of a real conversation.
Here’s how you know if the process is working. Ask one more question.
Would the people we serve miss us if we were gone?
If the answer is yes, and you know why, it’s a good sign that your brand is beautifully built, accurate for your business, and well received. If you’re not sure (or the answer is no), don’t just ask yourself those questions. Ask your audience.
Watchword produces intelligence-driven branding and content that works efficiently across many channels to help businesses articulate who they are and what they do to the people who matter most. We listen carefully, communicate thoughtfully, respond consistently, and deliver absolutely – that is our rally cry – our watchword. What’s yours? Get in touch – we’d love to hear your story.