Have a clear brand message, and stay true to it

Building brands is no easy matter. Brand marketing has never been more challenging, complex and competitive as it is today. 

Not being true to your brand is critical to build long lasting equity with consumers. Many marketers do not truly understand their brand equity or they execute campaigns that are not true to the brand. Clearly defined brand equities work best.

Brand equity is what your brand stands for and what you want it to mean to consumers. Understanding this means asking these questions: Who are you? What is your brand performance and imagery? What judgements and feelings should consumers have about your brand? What relationship should your brand have with its consumers?

Take Red Bull as an example; it is an energy drink that is all about performance and its brand message to consumers is that for better performance they need Red Bull.

TIP 1: Be clear on the traits your brand shares with the competition and know your brand’s unique selling points (USP). For example, know the areas in which your brand may be superior to the competition.

Using Dove as an example. Its brand equity is about understanding inner beauty and women, then communicating this through campaigns about its personal care products. It’s USP: functional, superior moisturising and a good understanding of the inner beauty of women.

What’s important is that the brand started out as a soap, but didn’t limit itself to soap in its brand messaging; it’s bigger equity and view enabled it to talk to women about beauty using multiple products, without diluting its equity. Dove understands a woman’s view of herself as reflected in its latest “sketches” campaign, but also sees her potential and her real beauty.

TIP 2: The way in which you communicate your brand equity must be consistent throughout your campaigns; every element must reinforce and be true to your brand equity.

TIP 3: Be mindful that promotions can build equity. Design promotions that are fully in line with your brand’s equity, or that enhance and build on that equity.

Who is your consumer?

Marketers make the mistake of classifying their consumers from a purely demographic perspective. While demographics do play a role, they don’t talk to the motivations of consumers. If you don’t take the personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of consumers into account when you design a campaign – the psychographics – your campaign may be off the mark and therefore not adequately connect your brand with its consumers.

TIP 4: Have a very clear understanding of the psychographics of your prime prospects. Think of it this way: psychographics determine why consumers buy your brand, it’s critical for what your brand stands for as well as the message it communicates. A brand can’t connect and resonate with consumers unless your message speaks to them.

TIP 5: Consumer motivations cut across demographic profiles. Understanding where the bulk of your consumers sit demographically, as defined by their psychographics, helps determine where those consumers are and how best to reach them.

But demographics alone don’t determine your message. For example, a few years ago Omo launched a “dirt is good” campaign. This campaign didn’t focus on parents in a specific demographic, but rather spoke to moms across the board about encouraging their children to explore freely and not to be held back by a bit of dirt. Instead of targeting a certain demographic, the campaign spoke to moms on a psychographic level.

TIP 6: Ask your brand builders to define who your consumers are, and if they start by saying LSM 6-8, they may have it all wrong. They will be on the right track by presenting a psychographic profile of who your consumers are and why, then going on to describe where the biggest consumer set is demographically, in terms of gender, age and LSM group.

TIP 7: Compile a psychographic profile of your consumer base. This is done both quantitatively and qualitatively and is a useful tool for uncovering why consumers are buying a product. It often begins with the individual shopper or in focus groups where underlying motivations are revealed. These are then tested by quantitative data and thereafter developed into campaigns. Ideally you want to identify the consumer’s unmet functional or emotional needs in your brand messaging.

In conclusion, it is essential that marketers reassess the way they classify consumers. Drawing a psychographic profile is a good way to ensure that a brand connects with consumers.

Michael Wood is the director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.