It’s Not You, It’s Them

In building a brand, it’s less about what you do and more about why people should care.

When it comes to crafting our core brand messages—especially if we’re introducing a new product or starting a new business—it’s easy to make it all about us. This tendency is often rooted in doubt or fear. Because even when our new product or service has a boatload of science, market research and years of expertise behind it, we still battle that nagging uncertainty that inevitably causes us to over-explain ourselves.

We spend all of our time talking about how it/we is/are good enough and smart enough. But the real question is gosh darn it, will people like us? Or more accurately, will people buy us?

Of course, it’s important to check all the right “what it is” boxes when it comes to launching a new service or product into the market. You need a clear description of what you do and how it works. You want people to know there’s solid expertise or workmanship behind this collection of bells and whistles.

This also helps people categorize your offering and more easily find you when they need a full-service landscaper, a craft brewery specializing in IPAs or cloud-based sales operations software.

But unless you’ve just invented a completely new wingding and a new market to consume it, you’ll have to contend with that pesky thing known as competition. And when it comes to your customers making a choice between your brand and the other guy’s, it’s rarely just about who has the newer equipment or the tighter security or the higher quality brew … it’s about how you deliver differently and what that difference can do for them.

Remember the words of marketing guru Seth Godin, “A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”

When developing your brand, make sure you’re leading with the value for your audience. That it’s clear and convincing but also authentic. Building a brand strategy “for them” doesn’t mean being something you’re not. It means knowing who you are, understanding why your audience should care, being willing to push past the uncertainty and starting the conversation.