From the time we get up until the time we go to bed, we interact with all kinds of brands. The challenge for companies is to make their brands stand out. But how?
Only companies that identify and pursue a “dream” will get noticed, say IESE professor Xavier Oliver and Elisenda Serra in their new book on brands. Others may refer to this dream as the company’s DNA, mission or vision. Either way, you need to have it or else you won’t succeed in standing out from the crowd.
Discovering your dream
Discerning your dream is not easy. Today’s hectic pace affords little time to stop and think. But you need to set aside time to study what is going on inside your firm.
The dream is not normally an official statement approved by C-level executives. More often, it is something less tangible, like Apple, helping people make the most of their potential, or Ikea, aiming to improve people’s everyday lives. Although difficult to measure, you must try to give it tangible features.
The goal is not to have workers repeat these dreams as mantras, but rather to inform their day-to-day work, so that everything the company does reflects this dream.
Practice what you preach
Just as important as discovering an organisation’s dream is putting it into practice by defining three kinds of values.
Instrumental values are the starting point of people’s relationship with the brand. These provide information about the product or service being offered, such as its quality, functionality, design or price, so that customers can determine if it suits their needs.
Relational or emotional values reach out to consumers beyond the purely functional elements. These responses are critical when it comes to deciding whether to buy something or not.
Shared core values connect the brand and the consumer together, leading to lasting relationships.
Next, identify what initially draws people to your brand. What does your company do better than anyone else that attracts attention?
For La Fageda in Spain, it’s the fact that it employs people with mental health issues that generates positive word of mouth, as much as the high-quality yoghurt it produces. Similarly, at Pike Place in Seattle, it’s the spirited employees and personalised service that draws the crowds to this fish market for an experience that borders on a theatrical performance.
Creating brand ambassadors
A dream is pointless if you do not share it. A great way of sharing your dream is through good storytelling, which can bring together not only those inside the company but those outside, too.
A powerful story will create a strong ripple effect, as the dream radiates outward from inside the company to touch the key groups you are trying to reach – from employees to suppliers to consumers.
The goal is to get all these groups to speak well of your company and brand, as there is no better marketing than positive word of mouth.
For this to happen, the story must not be made up. It should draw on what the company actually is; otherwise no one will believe it.
If your story is based on the company’s differential values and genuinely connects with key groups, then people will naturally become brand ambassadors.