Brands are best served when made for specific people. For years, I've been encouraging founders to focus on building a brand for one person.
In reading the Lean Startup, there was a moment of clarity: the person you build a brand for is the early adopter. Prior to reading this, I'd be referring to this persona as the ideal customer, but that isn't as objective as early adopter. Here's why:
Early adopters seek out uniqueness and difference, they are very particular with good taste, they have strong tribal associations, and they are willing to go out on a limb to try something new. Furthermore, they are the first dominoes to buy into a product that will eventually spill over into the early majority and late majority. You cannot impress the majorities if you have not impressed early adopters.
Build a product for your ideal early adopter. Not the average or ideal customer.
This is the first in a small series of punches surrounding April Dunford's Obviously Awesome! and how good positioning relates to good branding. Enjoy!
Positioning is where your company falls in the mind of consumers. Specifically, why your company should matter to them. In here book, Obviously Awesome! April Dunford breaks down effective positioning into 5 steps with an occasional 6th. First things first, examine what's already out there and what people might do, or currently be doing instead of using your product/services.
Note, it's not about being "better" necessarily, but more about assessing why these alternatives to your solution are being used.
In branding, this step in crucial in assessing the emotional alternatives to your company.
What is it about brand x that makes it so special? What do I feel differently about them versus brand y?
Attacking this from the angle of "how are they different?" instead of "how are they better?" is crucial to understanding their positioning and where there is space for your brand to be positioning without being labeled a copycat.
My favorite color to wear is black. Typically, I'm wearing a Buck Mason black T-shirt, Levi's blue jeans, and white sneakers. However, I would not wear that to the gym. In the gym I wear a black dri-fit, black shorts, and black training shoes. And while that's great attire for the gym, I would not wear that to a wedding. Instead you'd find me in an all black suit. Regardless of what I'm wearing though, I'm still the same person. I have patterns, yes, like wearing black, but it's important to fit the occasion.
You can run with the design of your branding the same way. What is the occasion we are designing for and how do we flex our visual identity to match? What matters most is whether or not the personality underneath stays the same and can be felt.
Dress for the occasion and be yourself.