Stand out from the Wallys of the marketing world by identifying your customer's story

31.05.17

We’re all familiar with ‘Where’s Wally?’. Trying to find the cheerful bobbled-hatted character can be fun, but it’s also pretty frustrating. The lesson here is that in an increasingly competitive market, your customers don’t want the frustration of staring at a number of different companies who all look the same.

What is brand anyway?

James Dyson, the industrial-design icon, is famed, or rather loathed, within marketing circles for his infamous statement: “There’s only one word that’s banned in our company: brand. I don’t believe in brand at all.”

Ironic perhaps, coming from the mouth of someone who has created one of the most recognisable British brands of the last century. What we would suggest, however, is that Mr Dyson doesn’t have much time for the skin-deep and superficial understanding that many have of brands.

Branding according to Wally Olins, authority on corporate identity not the stripy hat-wearing book character, is not merely smoke and mirrors but rather “creating and sustaining trust and delivering on promises. Branding is nothing more than creating an emotional attachment between the brand and the person.”

Let’s start with your story

The first step to creating a strong brand involves getting your company story straight. Simon Sinek, TED legend, leadership guru and all round bright spark, tells us we should ask just one question when developing our brand identity. Why? He puts forward the compelling argument that companies need to think less about what they do and more about why they do it.

Red Bull is a classic example. While they may be purveyors of a sickly sweet, caffeine infused liquids, they present themselves as fearless embracers of life in all its extremes. In the process they stand head and shoulders above their competitors – whoever they may be!

And if we just hop back to our friend Mr Dyson, there are few brands out there with as firm as an identity as the company that bears his name. Everything about Dyson screams that they are engineers with a relentless desire to bring technological innovation into the home.

Your customer’s story

But a great story in isolation is just words on a page. To bring a story to life, you need someone to tell it to; enter your audience. And don’t we just love defining our audience? Dave, a 43-year-old accountant, lives in Hertfordshire and holidays in South Wales.

Some rather clever chums at Cambridge Analytica decided this sort of customer profiling didn’t really cut the mustard. Analytica have put forward the Ocean model that divides the audience not into segments based on background, age, wealth or status, but the personality traits, what they care about, and why they behave the way they do.

When you understand not just what decisions your customers make but why they make them, you can start to build a more compelling brand that touches at the very heart of your customer’s decision making processing, steering them toward your brand; a brand whose ethos and outlook reflects theirs.

Give your brand wings

When you’ve got your stories straight, you’re ready to bring them to life. As Su Matthews Hale of the design firm Lippencott explains: “a company’s logo is its shorthand, a visual cue that tells a story of the brand’s culture, behavior, and values.” A logo can send out all sorts of signals about who you are and what you do.