Most brands can’t define their true culture. Can yours? If your answer is no, fear not — this is where opportunity lies. Follow these five steps to separate yourself from the pack and develop marketing campaigns with meaningful resonance. If you want brilliant marketplace success, you must develop your brand culture and build your marketing plan around it.
CMOs are looking for the silver bullet — the angle, offer or ad that’s going to light up sales and create buzz around the brand. Traditionally, they hire advertising agencies that will throw conceptual spaghetti against the boardroom walls trying to find it. But that silver bullet is found by looking at the brand culture from the head down. Start by examining the leadership of the organization and find what’s good. From there, a more meaningful connection can be made to the interests of your target audiences.
Hot air doesn’t rise in marketing. Marketing messaging must reflect the true brand culture. Without a marketable culture, marketing tactics can only create short-term interest. The consumer will find no connection between the promise that was made in the ad and what is delivered by the product, service or brand experience. This is not about semantics or brand talk. It’s about anchoring messaging in brand substance. Talk (aka hot air) is cheap and won’t create long-term success.
Step one – Identify your brand
Start by asking these questions and seek specific examples to support your premise. Involve your entire orientation, starting at the top and including people who work day to day with customers:
- What do we stand for?
- What are the brand values?
- How do we make peoples lives better?
- How do we behave?
- What causes do we support?
- How are we different from competitors with regard to experience, product features, and support systems?
Step two – Find the consumer connection
Based on what you’ve learned about your brand, start to find common ground with the target consumer. To do this, you must open up the lines of communication. You’re looking for similar values and priorities, and you can gather this information in multiple ways:
- Casual observation during brand interaction
- General secondary research
- Focus groups – formal or informal
- Social media interactions
- Surveys and quantitative research
- Syndicated research on behaviors and buying habits
- Psychographic analysis
- Panel survey data
Step three – Develop the assets
Take your top customer observations and think about how you could use them in the marketplace.
You want to shine the spotlight on these attributes by developing brand positioning and conceptual marketing programs that feature them. The objectives are to raise awareness, improve perceptions, create engagement and capture contact information. How will you do this? By adding value to the consumer experience. You’ll want to consider the full range of possibilities on every marketing platform:
- How can we educate or entertain the consumer?
- How and where can we share information or insights?
- How can we generate awareness in an affordable way?
- How can we include the consumer in our actions and activities?
- Who else shares these values (other companies or institutions)?
Step four – Connect culture to commerce
Now you can create the silver bullet campaign that is built on a meaningful culture — one that drives commerce. This is where you create a brand image and connect to promotional activity that enhances interest and brand value. Now you can budget and develop key performance indicators. Remember to balance the short-term expectations with long-term benefits. It takes some time to develop a values based campaign. The sincerity and integrity of your brand image is critical to success, and that will be demonstrated to the market over time. Consistency and commitment is key.
Step five – Integrate your brand within the marketplace
Remember that your brand/company must illustrate its adherence to its culture and core values at every turn. Your first marketing campaign must be within your organization. You must sell the idea to your employees and reinforce it regularly. Look at every customer touch point and make certain you’ve injected demonstrable culture at every opportunity. The stronger your own culture, the higher the standard you’ll be held accountable to. Your public will hold you accountable, so be certain that you are compliant with your own standards.
This is a high-level overview of a process that requires a significant investment of time and energy. Conducting this kind of corporate soul searching is difficult for most companies. Find a third party partner with the objectivity, capability, and vision to build and guide the plan. The CMO must have a vision for the process and drive the overall process. The right integrated advertising agency can help. Be certain that they don’t have a particular agenda or service line that they are pushing. Ask them for their thoughts on the process, start to finish.