“Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
This maxim holds true in the world of marketing and advertising, and it's been true since at least the 1920s, if not earlier.
From the pioneering work of Edward Bernays, to the classic strategic brilliance of David Ogilvy, to today's ever-changing digital marketing landscape, it's all about the brand.
When it comes down to it, on the deepest level, we're not selling products or services.
We're selling brands.
Whether you're an attorney with an independent legal practice, an affiliate marketer, a startup founder, or anyone else who owns a business of their own, a strong brand is essential for successfully attracting and retaining an audience of loyal customers who trust you and your company.
Every business needs a clear, consistent brand strategy, and this is a multi-step process with many different facets.
A recent blog post from Hubspot highlights seven aspects every brand needs to have.
So what's number one on their list?
“Every brand makes a promise.
But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose,” explains Allen Adamson, chairman of the North America region of brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates.
While understanding what your business promises is necessary when defining your brand positioning, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight.
In other words, your purpose is more specific, in that it serves as a differentiator between you and your competitors.
How can you define your business' purpose?
According to Business Strategy Insider, purpose can be viewed in two ways:
- Functional: This concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons — i.e. the purpose of the business is to make money.
- Intentional: This concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and do good in the world.
While making money is important to almost every business, we admire brands that emphasize their willingness to achieve more than just profitability, like IKEA:
IKEA's vision isn't just to sell furniture, but rather, to “create a better everyday life.”
This approach is appealing to potential customers, as it demonstrates their commitment to providing value beyond the point of sale.
When defining your business' purpose, keep this example in mind.
While making money is a priority, operating under that notion alone does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
Our advice? Dig a little deeper. If you need inspiration, check out the brands you admire, and see how they frame their mission and vision statements.
Of course, purpose is just one of the many facets of branding. You can learn more about how to craft a comprehensive brand strategy in the full post from Hubspot.