Nancy, a friend of mine told me how she met this really cute guy and accepted to go for dinner with him. Halfway through dinner, Nancy realized that all the guy did was talk about his job, how much he’s worth, what he’s good at, and even how often he get’s hit on by ladies. He kept cutting her mid-sentence, kept laughing at his own jokes and showing her pictures and videos of himself on his phone. Basically, the entire night was all about him and for once he didn’t even notice she was not amused. She narrated to me how that was the worst date she had ever been on and she described the guy as self-centered, narcissistic and selfish. That was the last he heard from her, as she made sure not to respond to his messages or phone calls again.
Are you wondering where I am going with this? Look around you and tell me if in a day you don’t encounter over fifty businesses acting like this guy, saying things like “We are the best” “Our services are top notch” and “No Service Beats Ours”. On the radio, T.V, billboards, and on your mobile phones, businesses are advertising and only talking about themselves. In return, consumers are now behaving like Nancy and refusing to respond to any form of advertising simply because they want their interests addressed. Now even on twitter, almost every company launches a product with a trending hash-tag. In early days trending hash-tags used to emanate from organic influence, but now a minimum of five users repeatedly using a hash-tag could trend in less than an hour. And when you click on the trending hash-tag to follow the conversation you barely find anything in relation to the hash-tag, because random blogs, other brands and even the influencers driving the hash-tag just tweet incessantly all in a bid to get the hash-tag to trend. Marketing practices are being abused because the fight for consumer attention has augmented, and businesses will go all lengths to be seen or heard. At what point will the narrative change and make the consumer the hero. Brand building is like a romantic relationship where the goal is to let your consumers catch feelings.
Well, imagine Nancy went for dinner with this guy and instead, he kept complimenting her, spent time conversing about her goals in life and gave her advice on how to achieve them. What do you think would have happened? Your guess is definitely same as mine. She would have come to me saying “You won’t believe this guy I just met. He’s such a great listener and is so concerned about me. I can’t wait for us to do this again”. This is the approach businesses should take to win their customers. This is brand building and it involves creating an emotional connection with the consumer, gaining their trust and automatically getting them to patronize anything you sell. A business that is brand focused communicates by saying things like “Let’s help you win” “Let’s double your finances” and “Let’s make your customers smile”.
I always tell my clients that lately businesses are investing more in advertising than branding, and out of confusion they always ask me “ Ah, but isn’t advertising and branding the same thing? Well, this is a clear misconception that is crippling lots of businesses today as business owners spend large sums of their marketing budget on advertising instead of brand building. From a small survey conducted by my team, we discovered that the average Ghanaian on the street’s understanding of branding is painting a building or car in a company’s colors. This idea has been engrained in their minds from years ago when MTN, Vodafone and other telecom giants embarked on nationwide visibility exercises and painted their homes, kiosks and walls all in the name of “branding”. For the educated and working class Ghanaian, a good percentage of them interpreted branding as having a good logo, great print, T.V and radio ads. Quite close to getting the point but they veered off somewhere along the line. It’s obvious that they all listed various marketing elements however couldn’t nail the objective of both advertising and branding practices. Basically advertising has got to do with communicating your products and services through sales, press ads, radio and TV ads, whilst branding has got to do with building a relationship with the consumer beyond your products and services. A good brand creates an emotional connection with the consumer that eventually influences how much they spend on products and services even without advertising.
There is a reason Coca Cola is the most loved traditional brand in the world, and despite all the whatsapp broadcasts we get showing how coke is corrosive and can be used as a detergent it’s still loved the world over. Coke is a champion at connecting with their consumer’s emotions and leveraging on that connection to increase their sales. A campaign we have all witnessed is the share a coke campaign. Coke realized that people loved personalized products so they leveraged on this insight to print bottles with people’s names on it. Not only did it make people feel special and appreciated, it created a mad rush for the bottles. And when people found bottles with their names, they searched for their loved ones names and also bought for them. I remember coming across a Coca Cola truck customizing bottles for free and I immediately had them make a customized bottle for Uche Ofodile who at the time was my boss and the C.M.O at Vodafone Ghana. She was such an inspiration to me and my love for her knew no bounds so I chanced on the moment to make something special for her. The next morning, I met her at the entrance of the office with her customized bottle and you can imagine how elated she was. She was so grateful and touched by the gesture that she kept the bottle on her desk till her last day at work in Vodafone. It earned me some points in her good books and that personal experience alone has created a lasting emotional connection for me with Coca Cola.
Before this campaign, Coke had seen a decline in sales due to the increased popularity of low calorie sport drinks. After this campaign, Coke saw an increase in total sales and their soft drink volume went up. If you are a business owner or CEO of a startup, it’s very important that you seek the services of a brand consultant to guide you in building an emotional connection with your customers. Remember that people don’t make decisions by what they see, but rather make decisions by what they feel.
If you want answers to any brand related question, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org