Ready, steady, foreverly - chemistry, courtship and communication
If you have a business, you have a brand – and in its early, sprightly days your brand only needs muscle, vigour and difference to make you irresistible to customers, so you can both enjoy the ‘getting to know you’ stuff. These are fun times and they’re gratifying, but the best brand relationships are like the strongest marriage – you both know it’s rock solid and everyone around you recognises an enduring relationship, because the picture you present to the world is one of confidence, originality and unity.
Looking for Mr or Ms Right
If you’re going to live together happily ever after, then the chemistry has to work: there’s lust and passion for a start, in all its intensity. There will be different experiences too, and some intellectual and physical cut and thrust. Not to mention giving, taking and sharing.
1. Who are you?
In the first throes of such hunger, young couples will be swapping attributes. What does he think of this? Does she have that? Flirting and initial attractions can be powerful, but though it’s great to get off to such a good start, vows are still a distant whisper.
If you’re a brand, you’ll be getting out there, meeting people, flirting, being coy or mysterious but, above all, being visible. People have clocked you, but they don’t ‘know’ you.
2. What are you?
To elevate the excitement beyond a one-night stand, couples need to get to know each other more deeply. They’ll spend more time with each other, talk and listen, grow to understand what each has to offer, what motivates them, why they behave as they do, what they value.
If you’re a brand, you’ll be doing exactly the same thing. Talking to people about yourself and listening to them, too. Establishing whether or not they’d like to see more of you. Hitting the right buttons. Being attractive and accessible. Having the right brand attributes. They’ll come to recognise the way you dress, talk and behave.
3. Why you?
If you haven’t drifted apart yet, then things could get serious – time for soul searching and admissions of the heart. Falling in love. With the possibility of a permanent relationship on the cards, serious exchanges must take place. Matters of the head and matters of the heart. Perhaps a proposal. An engagement. A commitment to marry.
If you’re a brand, it’s judgement day. This is your sales pitch – why me? You must provide all the sensible assurances and tick all the boxes; after all, marriage is supposed to be for life. But you must really, really be loved and in love. Is your emotional appeal strong enough? Do you truly take him or her beyond where anyone else could? If you’re the right brand, you’ll both sign on the dotted line.
4. What about us?
The deed is done and the knot is well and truly tied; both parties committed to one another and reaping the rewards of their decision. Long may they enjoy wedded bliss. Of course, it may not always be a bed of roses, and most couples have to work hard at preserving the best bits. Loyalty and commitment grow deeper and more profound with time, but this requires vigilance, diligence, desire and hard work.
If you’re a brand, the same rules apply. You now have a customer and, like a marriage, you can’t slacken off; you must work hard to ensure your relationship gives you both everything you need.
So, does your brand have the right chemistry to attract Mr or Ms Target Market and sustain a courtship right through to marriage and beyond? Here are a few tips.
Getting to dance
If you don’t know what your brand attributes are or should be, then ask your customers, ask your staff, ask your suppliers. Put together a picture of what customers are looking for from a brand like yours and try to rank them in terms of how much customers need them.
Now rank them according to how far those attributes are distinctly yours, or how well they differentiate you from your competition.
‘Brand antes’ are those attributes you’ve just got to have, to even get a look in – must-haves. All your serious competitors will have them. The important point here is: do you have them? If not, you won’t get to dance.
‘Primary’ attributes are where you grow your brand and upon which you can hang your courtship – highly desirable, something you have that others don’t, or that you do better. But if you don’t have any, your chemistry will be lacking – in which case, you’ll need to redefine or re-engineer your brand (and usually your product, service, process or business) or look for other highly differentiated attributes and persuade your market that these are also highly desirable.
Mars and Venus
If chemistry is one secret of a successful relationship, then communication has to be the other.
Nature is never backward in showing us how important communication is in courtship: visual, auditory, taste, touch and smell all play their part.
Brands are the same: they should communicate wherever and however their target market needs and wants them to. Once you’ve understood the chemistry, you can match the right communications to each stage of the journey, from flirting to full-on marriage.
Weak brands are all too often content with flirting. Life is just a logo – a constant hunt for new one-night stands. Clever brands will seek marriage; they’ll develop a more meaningful understanding, fall in love, commit and tie the knot.
The trick in any relationship is to avoid losing your partner to another suitor – so, stay fresh, work hard, and foster unbeatable loyalty. Celebrate as many anniversaries as you can.
Brand value lies in your current customer base, the chance of their repeat business and the likelihood that new people in your market will buy from you in the future – more weddings.
The trick is to avoid losing your customers to a competitor – so, stay fresh, work hard and foster not only unbeatable loyalty but positive advocacy. It’s in a mature marriage with strong loyalty that the value is really added – ask Apple fans.
Brands are all about relationships - chemistry, courtship and communications. Think of brand management in terms of getting married:
You know the kind of marriage partner you want (target market) so make sure you’re attractive (chemistry: brand attributes)
You understand that courtship proceeds through several stages, so work out what makes you most attractive at each stage
Communicate what you’ve got (brand messages). Flirt, talk, fall in love, tie the knot. Say the right things at the right time (for awareness, understanding, conviction, action). Survive, succeed, be happy and watch the world look on in envy.