Brands 101: From Recognition to Relevance
What makes a brand relevant? Let’s agree that relevance applies equally to a specific thing, service or information. A basic definition describes relevance as how “pertinent, connected, or applicable something is, if it serves as a means to a given purpose.” (Wikipedia)
Everyone talks about the “new” rules of marketing, branding and PR, but not everyone understands what exactly has shifted and changed from those tried-and-true practices http://bit.ly/1FbWC7. Companies are seeking ways to connect with their audience that converts customers from being brand loyalists—based on recognition and awareness—to brand evangelists, who are really committed to a given product or service.
Some marketing professionals talk about moving beyond establishing a brand or service mark to creating “lovemarks” http://www.lovemarks.com. Do people love your brand? Will they stay faithful to it in spite of price increases, negative publicity, competing brands or other adverse effects?
The media has cast the harsh light of criticism and publicity onto the failings of such trusted and revered brands as Toyota http://bit.ly/9HEPZg and Nike http://bit.ly/bgjkZD. Both have suffered from a loss of status and a fall from grace; their positions in the marketplace have been dealt a blow due to mechanical problems or relationship breakdowns. Can we still embrace the auto manufacturer whose mantra of quality over many years has been exposed as overlooking manufacturing processes in favor of bottom-line performance? Can we feel the same way about our Nikes knowing that its primary spokesperson—who embodied the “Just Do It” approach—just did it too often?
Consumers crave a connection with a brand that transcends utility. We seek the personification of our own values among the plethora of brands that flood store shelves and vie for our attention. How do you create a brand that is so memorable, so entrenched in the public consciousness, so well-loved and embraced that it becomes the first and only choice among a crowded field of contenders?
The challenge facing brands today is to rediscover their relevance through insight, innovation, investment, and other revealing techniques. Companies are expected to make something that matters and treat customers with respect. In a values-driven environment, a company’s or product’s personal brand story needs to gain relevance, thereby finding its place in the hearts and minds of its audience. Marketing practices, therefore, must focus more on rewarding consumers first and giving them an opportunity to make an impact on the product’s design, application and usage. It’s a conversation in which marketers must find ways to engage their audiences to participate if they are to remain relevant.