In the game of Connect Four, the object is to be the first player to connect four of your pieces in a row before your opponent can do the same. But, did you know that Connect Four is a solved game?
Similar to Tic-Tac-Toe, the first player can always win the game if they play the right moves. When it comes to branding and connecting with your customers, it’s very much the same.
Ex. The Brand Connection©
As a company, you can create a brand; but, if it doesn’t connect with your end customer, it’s ineffective. Building The Brand Connection involves “playing the right moves” in order to get your four pieces in a perfect row.
Your story is what makes your brand. There may be many companies that do what you do. But, there probably aren’t too many that do it how you do it and likely no one else that does it why you do it. Uncovering the purpose behind your story and the voice that makes your company uniquely you is a process of discovery and reflection. Ultimately, you’ll want to answer these questions:
- What do I do?
- How do I do it better?
- What makes me special?
Now that you have your brand story, it’s crucial that you develop the right messages that will resonate with your targeted audience(s). An elevator speech should seek to capture your audience and their interest to learn more about you. Determine what your key differentiators are and what your audience(s) need to know upfront.
If your Story is your foundation, developing key messaging is like building the structure of the house. It’s what brings shape, color and detail to your company and how it is communicated and shared with your audience(s). Depending on the breadth and diversity of your audience(s), it may be necessary to create some specific key messages for each. For example, customers and vendors/partners.
If the Story and Message are the foundation and house, then the Channels are its entry and exit points. Via your channels, you can share messages, as well as receive feedback/ responses. Some channels are essential for most every business, such as your website, marketing materials and interpersonal communications; while others should be thoughtfully chosen based on your business and audiences (e.g., social media, e-newsletter, etc.). Choosing the right channel(s) is a crucial step in the process to effectively building The Brand Connection.
Furthermore, once you select your channels, it’s important to build trust with your audience by being present and consistent. Look to provide valuable and beneficial information to your audience(s). Think WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Why should they want to visit your “house?” Remember, nobody would want to visit a place where they get a sales pitch every time they walk through the door. A good balance is 70/30 – with only 30% of your messages being directly tied to sales.
Your company’s Audiences are the final piece of building The Brand Connection. There are two big mistakes businesses make when it comes to identifying their audiences. 1) You think your only audience is your customers/clients. 2) You generalize your audiences (e.g., men, women, moms, etc.) The truth is, identifying the right audiences is the first priority. Who will be receptive to your product/service? And, who are all the stakeholders? Think investors, partners, employees and more. Secondly, don’t just identify who they are, think about how they are (e.g., women between the ages of 25 and 35 who are employed full-time and love online shopping). The more you understand the values and motivators of your audience(s), the better you can build relationships that are relational instead of transactional ones.
Now, the twist to really “solving” the game is that The Brand Connection goes two ways. That’s because communication and connection work both ways too.
Brand Reflection© takes place between your Message and Channel. Remember how I said your channels are your entry and exit points where you could share messages and receive feedback/responses. Well, it’s through these comments from your Audiences that you can reflect on the efficacy and resonance of your Story and Message. By listening and responding in return, a true Brand Connection can be built between a company and its audiences.
Most companies think the marketing advantage goes to those companies with the deepest pockets. But, in reality, it’s a solved game and it’s all about making the right moves! With a purposeful message, thoughtful delivery and authenticity in your communications, you can be on your way to building The Brand Connection.