Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brand in a pessimistic buyer's world


Courtesy of www.business2community.com

I used to think I didn't really care about brand. For me it was all about the product. Does it work? Does it meet the customer's needs? Is it dead simple to use? How can we keep improving it?

Design of any sort has always been near and dear to my heart and honestly it doesn't matter what space the experience is applied. I just love the process of collaborating with others to create awesome things that resonate with people. Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to practice that in a variety of settings. Over the years, however, as I dove deeper into this passion I realized we can design the most amazing products, but if we can't reach the customer so they can experience the product's AWESOMENESS then we're hosed.

I never understood this more than when I met Karla Stephens Tolstoy and Regina Miller, co-founders of Tokii. When I met them I had a software as a service (SaaS) project on which I'd been working and, well, pitching with Andy Tilley, a very gifted system architect and all around good guy. I gave little thought to the brand and marketing side of things because I really only cared about the product, but something gnawed at me deeply. I felt I was ignoring something that was inherently intertwined with the awesome products we endeavored to create.

Photo credit: sugrsozlu
Karla and Reg are brand EVANGELISTS. They live, breathe, and sleep brand. When they offered me a position with their company back in 2008, with them I saw an opportunity to address what had turned into a persistent CHOMPING feeling that I'd missed something really important in my business journey. With them and the Tokii team I grew to understand that brand and product at the most basic level are sisters forever joined in the consumer space. Simply put people won't buy or use your product if they don't understand it or trust it.

So what's the snack today? 
Fast Company Design serves up The 4 Classic Ways to Recession-Proof Your Brand. The article reminds us that the principles of brand and product can rise above a thrifty, pessimistic spending climate. Basically the strategy the article serves up is to innovate, rediscover your brand, stay in your lane, and refocus on brand trust.

My take? Well, I agree with the article, but I'd tweak it a bit as I tend to do as some of you know. After all, recipes are just a place to start. :)

  1. Be different. Offer something unique that appeals to emotions and practicality.
  2. Be true. Live your values and the values of your company. 
  3. Continue to innovate. Test, retest. Assess, reassess. Grow with your customer.
  4. Keep promises. Do what you say you're going to do. 
  5. Engage customers. Talk with them not at them.

A company has a responsibility to their customers to deliver on the value proposition whatever it is. What are you doing right now to support your brand?

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