The category comes first and the brand second. Once buyers understand the category and desire the products or services, they will look for credible brands. In this blogpost, four important aspects of brand building in the market are discussed.
1. Get a follower
In the TED talk How to start a movement Derek Sivers shows how to create demand for a category in real life. He features a video of a guy dancing in a park full of people. At some point, the dancing guy gets a follower, and a movement starts to form. Sivers says:
‘It is the first follower that transforms a lone nut into a leader. The second follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd, and a crowd is news. Everyone needs to see the followers because new followers emulate followers — not the leader.’
Brands need to go through the same process, growing desire for their category and connecting their brand to it. The dancing guy was not promoting himself. He did not do any advertisements. He just performed the act of dancing and got people interested. Successful brands promote their exciting category (the What of the brand) to get followers. Once people realize how it benefits and affect them positively the brand becomes an easier purchase.
2. Get people interested using the Stadium Pitch
An effective way to build a brand is by educating people about the category and using the brand as a prime example. The late Chet Holmes called this the Stadium Pitch. The idea is that a brand can take the stage with an audience that can leave at any moment. The purpose is to grab anyone’s attention and keep them as long as possible inside the stadium.
An ineffective Stadium Pitch would be something like ‘The top five reasons why you should buy my organic juice’. Probably only a few people are at the moment of pitching really interested in organic juice with an empty stadium as a result.
A much more effective Stadium Pitch starts by building the overall category and then slowly narrowing down to the category (the What) and finally the brand. An effective opening would be ‘The top five effective ways to improve your health right now’. The first way to improve health will have nothing to do with the organic juices the brand is selling. Towards the last step, the audience can relate the concept of Health with Organic juices, and the brand can start promoting the category. All the critical criteria for healthy organic juices can be reviewed. Of course, the brand fulfills all of them and many more! The presenter was a category educator and became a salesperson only in the very last step.
3. Get other people to talk about your brand
One of the best ways to promote the category and the brand is to have other people write or talk about it. When people read, hear, or see about categories and brands on trusted blogs, video channels, or review sites, they are more inclined to explore further. Credible voices in the Earned channel are required in building the category and attaching the brand to it. Established brands require a continuous stream of substantially new products, features, or stories to keep the Earned media interested. Without anything new, a brand becomes old news fast.
The brands’ Own channels are essential. Think of the brands’ social media accounts, website, and blogs. In the Own channels, it is also about creating a desire for the category/ the What. Research firm Nielsen published for years the report ‘Global Trust in Advertising’16. Every year, the most trusted type of ‘advertising’ is recommendations from friends and family. The second place is the brands’ website underlining that people do not expect a company or brand to lie on their own site.
Advertisements lack the credible voices of the Earned channel. The brand speaks in the Bought channel. People have learned how to read, watch or listen to advertisements. Contrary to what companies think, advertisements are not ranked high in trust. In the Gallup annual figures of the image of professions ranked by honesty and ethics, Advertising practitioners are at the bottom together with members of Congress and car salespeople.
The role of the Bought advertising channel should be to maintain or defend an already established position inside a category. Advertising should reinforce the unique What, the product, and benefits. Refrain from the fluffy ‘feel good’ commercials as these do not reinforce the position of the brand in de minds of people.
4. Keep excitement and interest high
Every brand has the task of keeping the excitement and interest in the category high. The excitement in the category will benefit every brand inside the category, relative to the market and mind share each brand has. The more the category remains on the radar of potential buyers, the more people will eventually convert and make a purchase.
This article is from the book Win With What – the first category-led growth book for anyone who wants their business to thrive and survive.
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