Your brand needs to be cherished by someone. That person is your super fan, someone who will love your brand, buy anything you create, and share it with the world. They are a tribal advocate for your company. Here is how you can make sure you are creating something this person will appreciate:
This is the easiest part. List some key elements of this person to get a starting point for who they are. This will include:
2. External Desires
What are they coming to you for? This could include:
3. Internal Desires
WHY are these things important and what are they looking to accomplish.
Is there a grander battle that you are both fighting?
What is at stake if these desires are not met? Some examples:
6. Lifestyle elements
Make sure your brand aligns with this person's lifestyle. List out some key things we all use/partake in:
What and who inspires this person to get out of bed in the morning?
8. Define patterns
Look at everything you've written down. Do you notice a pattern in purchase behavior? Is this person looking for a deal or do they spend on value? Do they care about aesthetics? Are they conservative or edgy?
Are there patterns in the things that inspire them (boisterous attitudes vs strong silent leadership)? How about the topics being discussed, can you relate and speak on these as well?
The point here is to immerse yourself in this person's world and see how you can add to it. More importantly, to see how you can add to it and be easily accepted into their lifestyle, rather than forcing a lifestyle upon them. If that is what you find yourself doing, you need to either reposition your brand for a new audience or mold it to your current super fan.
Your brand needs to walk alongside them, hip-to-hip.
There's a two-fold mission to this statement: one part applies to your startup's value proposition/unique selling proposition and the other pertains to the brand (how your startup makes people feel).
In short, you must know what is out there so you can create something that stands out. Let's break it down using the categories listed above.
Most startups will resort to "lowest price" on this point, but we can do better than that. Instead, ask yourself what are the alternatives to your product and what do they lack that your customers need? Sometimes it's as simple as a better interface or a different distribution method (i.e. Dollar Shave Club going subscription for razor blades). This should indicate what the big selling point of your product is or at least inform you of what is lacking within your competitors. From there, you can adjust your messaging to hit on the specific pain point your customers are looking to ease.
No two companies are alike in nature. Not even if they are in the same industry. Guaranteed, there are cultural nuances and quirks within every company that make them unique and special. Frankly, most of them hide it behind a professional demeanor and an unwillingness to be human. So, your goal is to assess your competitors personalities and find a void to fill. If the majority of them come off as stoic and cold, you have an opportunity to be friendly and vulnerable. Granted, you have to know yourself, since you can't put on a false identity in the hopes of attracting people.
These two bits of research can inform almost every decision your company should make in marketing itself. They give you the reason people should buy your product and why they won't forget you.
Building a brand is about connecting people to a company at an emotional level. What do people connect with? Other people and their stories. No matter how lame and uneventful you believe your journey to have been, your story as a founder, entrepreneur, and business person is exciting to someone else who has never lived it. Every detail is a new experience for them.
For example, I've lived in San Diego my whole life. Naturally, the beach and amazing weather don't surprise or excite me anymore because I've seen them so much. But to someone who lives in Canada who has never seen a wave, felt sand between their toes, or spent an entire day playing beach volleyball, it's completely foreign and interesting to them.
Set aside your products for a second and think about your story. Where are you from? Where are you now? What does that say about you? Lastly, how can you embed that story into your brand?
The brand of a startup is almost always a mirror of the founder. If you want to build a stellar brand, you must know yourself first.