Lydia Polgreen, Editor in Chief of HuffPost and a guest speaker at this year’s Cannes Lions, recently said, “[consumers are] deeply wary of cynical ploys to exploit their values, and highly attuned to signs that a brand’s commitment to values they espouse is authentic.”
After spending 15+ years building brands that consumers can’t live without and won’t stop talking about, we know that authentic brands foster consumer trust and drive growth. However, brand authenticity often isn’t enough. You need a brand strategy that’s both authentic AND electric to ignite continued passion and purchase with your customers.
What’s the difference?
Authentic brands know who they are, know what they stand for, and do what they say they will do.
Electric brands connect with a human truth and create value that spreads like currency through culture.
To help you get started, we’ve put together 5 steps you can take to build an authentic and electric brand platform.
Step 1: Define your Brand DNA
In order to craft an authentic and electric brand strategy, you need to define what makes your brand unique and what it stands for. Identify what your brand is doing (or can do) to benefit society, and align this with your brand mission. Examine your brand purpose, values, archetype and core equities.
Wild Fang, a Tom Boy Fashion Brand is a great example of strong brand DNA that cuts through the noise.
The feminist fashion brand has built a fanatical following by being transparent and challenging traditional and stereotyped notions of being a women. They speak to a fluid generation who values individuality—and don’t care if you don’t agree.
Step 2: Cultivate Chemistry With Your Customers
You can’t go it alone when trying to create an authentic and electric brand strategy: you need to partner with your customers to create value.
How to get started:
- Create with them, not for them: Co-creation sessions are helpful to bring your consumers into the development process and get their creative input and buy-in.
- Listen up: Use Social Listening or follow relevant conversations on social platforms or forums where your target customers congregate.
- Live a day in the life: We’re big proponents of getting up close and personal with consumers using ethnographies. But short of that, you can always take what you know about your consumers and live a day in their lives to try to organically identify where your brand can fit in and the value you can add.
A great example of a brand that cultivates chemistry with their customers is Ulta.
In a world where most shopping is happening online, teens are going to Ulta in droves. Ulta listens to their customers and understands they need a more open, representative and diverse depiction of beauty. They also consistently bring in relevant and aspirational brands that teens love, like their exclusive with Kylie cosmetics.
Step 3: Keep One Foot in the Future
Make sure the brand you are today will stay relevant for the audience of tomorrow. Use Strategic Foresight to future-proof your brand and systematically hypothesize where the world is heading so you can start acting, not reacting to trends, disruptions, etc.
The NBA is a terrific example of an innovative brand that’s strategically thinking about the future.
The NBA paid attention to shrinking attention spans and the proliferation of devices to innovate their brand strategy. They were the first “traditional” sports league to venture into e-sports with NBA 2K League, which has 21 teams and games that stream on Twitch.
Their global brand strategy is working. Last year the league broke attendance records for the fourth straight season; its streaming service grew subscribers by 63%; and total revenue by 25%.
Step 4: Make a Promise and Keep It
This is the MOST important step that can only be tackled once you’ve identified your Brand DNA, explored your Customer Relationships and strategized about what the future might hold for your brand. Think of this as the single, amazing feat your brand will help people achieve. Write your promise in a relatable way, use bold language that inspires, and make sure it stays true to who you are.
No brand is doing this better than Patagonia right now, who promises to help save the planet.
From donating their 2016 Black Friday sales to environmental NGOs to their edgy ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ campaign, the $1B company proves that making and keeping a brand promise, is good business.
Step 5: Live Your Brand Promise
Once you have your brand promise, it’s the job of your entire organization to live that promise everyday through the experiences it creates. This means relentlessly pursuing new products, experiences, and tools that deliver your promise to your consumers. Commit to experimenting, iterating and testing across the Customer Journey.
Peloton, a brand that’s revolutionizing the fitness industry through technology, exemplifies this step.
Centered around customer experience, the company keeps the bar moving and innovates based on consumer behavior. When they saw 30 minute classes were outperforming 45 minute classes, they started to produce more. They also introduced features that make their on-demand classes feel more like a live class. Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, SVP Global Brand Marketing for Peloton, recently told Forbes, “I think brands are the only way we create change. If you think about it, Peloton’s purpose is allowing people to be the best version of themselves. It takes a brand you believe in and want to be part of to be able to do that.”
The truth is, any brand can become authentic and electric if you are willing to be honest and do the work. We hope we’ve given you some tools and ideas to get you started.
Interested in learning more about Kelton and how we can help your brand develop and authentic and electric strategy? Click here to shoot us a note. We love talking about this stuff!