With every brand, consumers move along a similar journey from awareness to consideration to search to purchase. And then if satisfied they move to repeat, loyal and then they become brand fans who influence others. A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.
A strategy should always drive a market impact
Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point. You start to look at a small shift in momentum towards your vision. There will always be doubters to every strategy. The results of the early win provide compelling proof to show everyone the plan will work. You can change the minds of the doubters so everyone can stay focused on the breakthrough point.
The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point. From there, you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the bug journey. Or it can help tighten the consumer’s bond with the brand.
Moving the consumer along their journey
To drive awareness, you need to stand out and be seen in a crowd. Invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind using TV, digital, viral video, out-of-home media, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships and experiential events can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand.
To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage the online user review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or category-specific review sites.
For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to just confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media. The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move consumers towards the purchase decision. You can use media to manage the consumer journey.
Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy.
Using media to create brand fans
After the purchase, you must turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with special deals. Layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond.
Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers, by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged consumers to drive awareness.
The beauty of the media that has been added over the past ten years, is that it enables brands to hang onto the consumer past the satisfied stage. You can now build a relationship with your consumer, using media to tighten the bond with your consumer. Brand building starts with cultivating close relationships with consumers. The best brands of today follow a very similar path to the rituals of a personal courtship.
Why does brand love matter?
Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers, randomly purchased a few times without much thought. They become acquaintances and, when the brand successfully delivers on expectations, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship.
As the consumer sees a consistent experience and trust, they begin to open up, and the romance begins. The consumer allows their emotions to take over and, without knowing, they start to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many brand lovers who cherish their relationship with the brand. As long as the brand delivers on the excitement of the original promise that attracted the consumer on their first encounter, the brand moves into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever love.
To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I created the brand love curve, which outlines how consumers move through five stages: unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, and onto the beloved brand status.
The Brand Love Curve
It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love.
For new brands, they were completely “unknown” to consumers. Unless there were genuinely compelling messages, consumers would walk past without even looking. To achieve some success, the priority for these brands is to get noticed within the clutter of the market.
At the “indifferent” stage, consumers feel O.K. about the brand, similar to how they usually feel about commodities, like fruit and vegetables. These brands satisfy the consumer’s basic needs. They will buy the brand when it is on sale, but switch back to their other brand choice when it is not. Your brand has to be seen as more than just a commodity. Brands need to be seen as better, different or cheaper. Otherwise, they will not be around for long, and you waste your investment.
Brands that reach the “like it” stage experience the first sign of business success. Their consumers see the brand as a logical, functional and smart choice. However, the lack of any emotional connection leaves the purchase up to chance. Consumers will still switch brands randomly. Brands at the like it stage stress the product performance so much they forget to trigger any emotions.
Build an emotional relationship with your consumers
Brands at the “love it” stage start to see more emotionally engaged consumers. The rule of love you must follow: Consumers must love the brand before you can tell them they should love you. Consumers see the brand as a favorite choice, usually connected to a favorite part of their day. They are loyal and build the brand into a routine. These brands must also find a way to demonstrate their love toward these consumers to continue to tighten the bond with their most loyal brand lovers.
The “beloved brand” stage is where the brand becomes iconic, with a core base of brand lovers who cherish and defend the brand. These consumers see the brand as a personal choice, a badge they proudly hold in their hand or wear on their feet. At the beloved stage, the brands must create magical experiences that inspire brand lovers to share with their friends.
How consumer strategies match up to the brand love curve
Five major brand strategies help move your brand from one stage of the brand love curve to the next.
- For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world, where they see an estimated 5,000 brand messages per day.
- For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference over their current brand choice.
- At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following over time. Only after they trust the brand, they begin to open up.
- At the love it stage, the focus shifts tightening the bond with the most loyal brand fans.
- At the beloved stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.
20 consumer strategies
The brand love curve should guide strategic and tactical decisions that go into the writing of your annual brand plan. Here are 20 potential brand strategies that match up to where your brand sits on the curve and how to move your brand to the next stage.
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Beloved Brands: Who are we?
At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.
The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.
We help brands find growth
We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.
We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.
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We make Brand Leaders smarter
We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.
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If you need our help, email me at email@example.com or call me at 416 885 3911