It finally hit me this week what every single client, customer, person and patron truly wants -- and it's not what we're giving them. What we're giving people is details, lots of details. They come in the form of product specifications, a list of attributes, qualities, claims, guarantees, and service promises. These are all great but they don't scratch the itch... they don't satisfy the real craving that each person longs for in their day to day experience.
That constant craving is for meaning.
Think about it. When we are born, we are all basically blank slates -- empty notebooks upon which nothing yet is written. As we go through life we sense this blankness and we look to fill it in, write on it, doodle, draw, and color all over the pages. In doing so our little book of life begins to take on the thing we want most... meaning.
How does this affect your company, products and branding? This insight provides an opportunity to connect with your customer on a much deeper level -- an emotional one. If understood, you can help them tell their story, strengthen their identity and add purpose to their existence. Take coffee for example. Busy commuters don't drink the stuff at Starbucks because it's convenient or cheap. They do so because of the affiliation it brings them, the sense of belonging, ritual, purpose, community, etc. In short it provides texture and meaning to what would otherwise be a boring routine... driving to work.
So if that's the case, why do we so often describe and position our products and services in terms of their capabilities, functions and features? Does anyone really want to buy a 6,000 pound piece of metal with wheels? Or do they want the feeling of freedom that a road hugging convertible delivers? The strongest connection you can make with your customer is not the tangibles you sell, but the intangibles you instill. Build on that and you will build a loyal and profitable following.
I shared in another article how Rolex was not really in the watch business, but in the prestige business. A quality watch demands a fair price, but the value of prestige is much higher. If a company owns the prestige position, customers will often proudly state how much they paid, not how much they saved. Why? Because the product added a sense of meaning. If you're continually being price shopped, that's an indication you haven't connected with your customer on an emotional level, and you've been reduced to a commodity.
In thinking about your company's products and services, what purpose, what sense of meaning do you deliver that you are not currently communicating with your customers? Is there someway in which you enrich their lives, improve their experience, give them a greater sense of who they are? If you can connect to these emotional anchors, you will be building on bedrock. Your brand won't be subject to the constant cost comparisons that so often plague companies that fail to resonate on an emotional, meaningful level.
As owner of a branding firm, I believe in enlightened marketing. I share these insights because I believe that each of us has an innate capacity for brilliance. And when I say "you are brilliant," it resonates within you because it's a truth, one that is stronger than any adjective-filled copy. And the message is powerful precisely because it's meaningful.
About the author:
Phil Davis is owner and president of Tungsten Brand Marketing, a naming firm specializing in branding and repositioning companies, products and services. Phil's work and company naming philosophy can be viewed at http://PureTungsten.com. Phil's life goal of "creating environments where people thrive" reflects his desire to assist in personal, professional and business growth. Phil founded and ran a full service ad agency for over 17 years and now works full time as a business naming and branding consultant. Phil resides with wife Michelle and four energetic offspring outside Asheville, North Carolina. Email: Phil@PureTungsten.com
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