Earlier this week I found myself sitting at Tribecon, the official interactive conference for VooDoo Fest in New Orleans, with a very enthusiastic speaker bounding around on stage proclaiming one very solid truth — your brand is not your product.
It took a minute for it to register, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. We all know that branding is important, but this speech gave me pause. So I started thinking, what makes a brand? Is it your product? Your features? Your customer support? The answer is none of the above.
Your brand is not your product. I repeat, your brand is not your product. Yep. Let that sink in for a minute.
It’s a hard concept to grasp, but to build a brand you need to sell experiences rather than just your features. Think about it. A brand should be an experience. Your product and services get people in the door. Your brand is what makes them lifelong customers.
In the digital age, it’s easier for companies to build brand loyalty. The trick is to be open and find what resonates with your clientele. One brand that’s getting this right is the NFL. Let’s all take a minute to contemplate the awesomeness of Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown celebratory dance. Sure, it may be borrowed from professional wrestling, but it’s quickly become one of the most recognized pop culture gestures since last football season. Heck, for my roommate and I it’s replaced screaming “winning” a la Charlie Sheen when something goes in our favor.
Strapping on the belt is synonymous with winning. When Aaron does it, we feel like we’re celebrating with him. We find ourselves imitating the movement when something in our lives goes our way. It’s extremely relatable. So relatable, in fact, that other companies are cashing in on it. Check out State Farm’s State of Imitation commercial. You know you’re a brand when other companies start imitating your signature move.
Building brand equity starts with transparency and honing in on being relatable. Take Coca Cola. The soda giant now has over 34 million likes on its Facebook page. That’s an astounding number. What’s more astounding is that the entire page was started and is run by two hardcore Coca Cola fans, Dusty and Michael. Taking the branding of their Facebook presence out of corporate hands and into those of two highly motivated and enthusiastic superfans has helped turn them into one of the most followed and liked companies on the internet.
When you have a great product you have happy customers. When you have a relatable and engaging brand you have customers for life. So take a moment and ask yourself what sort of experience your company is selling. Does your brand reflect the image you want to reflect? If the answer is yes, start strapping that championship belt. If not, it’s time to get to work.