Do you drink Evian water because it tastes better, or do you drink it because it is bottled in the Alps in Lake Geneva Switzerland? Do you shop at Tom's shoes because of the quality of the footwear, or because of it is a cause-driven brand who donates another pair of shoes for everyone pair you purchase?
There are two books that I refer to when it comes to building a memorable brand.
The first book and one of my all-time favorite books on brand building is Seth Godin's book All Marketers Are Liars. It is an excellent book on how marketers manipulate the public to get people to buy their products. We don't like to think that we are being manipulated by marketing messages, and maybe manipulated is a harsh word.
What I love about this book is that makes you look at the world a little differently. I always thought that I wasn't affected by marketing messages and that I was rational in my decision making.
I started becoming more cognizant of messages all around me. The packaging on water bottles, the billboard ads and TV commercials are things I spent more time researching.
I also started to ask people why they buy certain brands over others.
The headphones brand, Beats By Dre, is a great example of branding being bigger than the product. After analysis by many audiophiles, and comparisons of headphones, Beats by Dre was nowhere close to being the best and was multiple times more expensive than comparable headphones. This research was widely known and available all over the internet.
That research didn't matter. The brand was powerful and celebrities all over the world were wearing them on every commercial. The brand became bigger than the product.
This motivated me to stop talking about the features of the products I was selling. I started to ask more questions about the lifestyle my customers wanted to live and how my products or services can help them.
Godin's book really opened my eyes to observing how brands portray themselves.
The next book, Bigger Than This - How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand, by Fabian Geyrhalter also has great insights into building top-tier brands.
The reason I loved this book so much is that it not only acknowledges that branding can make a subpar product better than the competition but also talks tactically about how brands can build superior brands.
A few concepts stood out for me in this book.
The first concept is that the background story of your brand is sometimes more important than the product itself.
This resonated a lot with me.
I was once miserable with my job, and I overcame it. So I write about the story of how I overcame it. The people that follow my writing and purchased my products are almost always unhappy with their careers. That's how I knew that my background story was more important than the actual product I was selling.
My background story allows them to relate to me more.
When you're building your product for your brand, spend time on your story. Write it down and share it on your website. Features are great, but not always the best way to sell your product. Context to why you created your company will go a long way.
Facts tell. Stories sell.
The second concept that resonated with me was the idea of being transparent as a brand strategy.
Consumers are a lot more wary of marketing messages than ever before. Just because you say it, doesn't make it the truth.
With companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo taking big hits to their brand for not being transparent, the public has grown to dislike brands that are not transparent.
So, in order to build consumer loyalty, being transparent allows you to build trust with your consumer. By showing how everything is made from start to finish, consumers will trust that what you're building is ethical, and a good fit for them. It makes them feel that you're not trying to sell them on something and that they made the decision to purchase your products all on their own.
I've used transparency in my business to build better relationships. I'll often tell them how much my services cost up front instead of a proposal so they know I'm not trying to pull a fast one on them.
While you are growing your startup, the easiest way to be transparent is to use social media to document your progress, and also talk about your failures. This is an easy way to build transparency internally and externally.
Seth Godin's and Fabian Geyrhalter's books are my go to and if you're interested in building a brand bigger than your product, I recommend taking a look at them.