“A brand is no longer what we tell the customers it is – it is what customers tell each other it is.”
– Scott D. Cook
Most companies exist to make a profit. Most customers know that every activity, campaign, and advertisement is calling them out to purchase a product or service, requiring them to spend their hard-earned money. Nevertheless, some companies go on with obvious branding and aggressive marketing. So, what changed? Well, customers – their understanding about the business and its operations, and their justifiable need to associate themselves with companies that are as transparent as light.
While there are numerous aspects of ways the customers are selecting a brand, experts bring it all down to an umbrella term. Thus, before we get into conscious branding, let us first understand the lodestone that holds it all together, customers – more specifically, conscious customers.
Conscious Customers’ Buying Process
In a world where authenticity lacks almost as much as hours in a day, the importance of finding something truly unique increases by the minute – one of many examples of ironic human behaviors. Moreover, with the increasing inflation and competition, a customer wants to be in the driving seat while buying a product or service. Eventually, leading to changing the entire buying process.
A conscious customer –
- Reads beyond what is given on the label. They do their homework and know about the company, its competitors, elements of its products or services, and everything else.
- Knows that by making a purchase, they are financially connected with the company. Therefore, gets curious concerning where the company stands in terms of values.
For instance, we all know that Apple stands for – and offers – quality and uniqueness. However, as they introduced (Product) Red, they showed the customers that the specific colored products stand for “making a difference,” while providing support to HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa through the profits earned by (Product) Red. As foreseen, the customers appreciated and supported the initiative.
Understanding Conscious Branding
It goes without saying, with the increasing number of conscious customers, a company requires to adopt conscious branding.
Nonetheless, a conscious brand does not necessarily have to be born conscious – it can also be developed over time. To make it simpler, here is a glimpse of the approach that conscious brands use:
- The end goal is not simply earning money. Rather, have a goal that benefits the world.
- Based on the higher purpose, conscious brands have a strong belief system, which they are never shy of promoting.
- Consider actions above words. Instead of simply telling what they will offer the customers, such brands work on the end result and simply reap the rewards thereon.
- Focus on providing value. Be it a customer, or an employee, or a partner, conscious brands cultivate relationships very carefully and strengthen the ones where there is a sense of creation of value from both ends.
- through their opinions – on a political party, a norm, and everything else in between.
- Empower, educate, and enhance the customers and their lifestyle through their meaningful products and services.
- Ensure consistency amongst the employees and activities through positive motivations, not meaningless incentives.
- Create and maintain transparency. It is one of the key elements of a conscious brand. Not only do they stand high on the honesty-pedestal, but also understand that the combination of authenticity, empathy, and responsiveness, is what makes the true difference between a conscious and a non-conscious brand.
All in all, conscious branding aligns itself with the customers and acts as a bridge where both customers and companies benefit from each other in a mutual manner.
Implementing Conscious Branding With a Hint of Senses
To begin with, branding requires a set of well-thought design elements including symbols, typography, color palette, and everything in between. Moving further, a brand works on its brand presence online and offline – through marketing campaigns, user engagement, social media, and various other ways.
And of course, there are experts, books, tools, and other resources to help a new brand walk towards success. Some of them are tried and tested and work, while others do not. All in all, a business revolves around neverending branding activities – but how does a business ensure that these activities unfold and reach the customers as planned? A business can decide on all the factors – online presence, quality products, efficient customer service, and other whatnots, but it cannot decide how all these factors shape the user experience.
That is where the need of acknowledging growing conscious customers arises, eventually, bringing a brand to a path where they step into the customers’ shoes while considering all that they feel, think, say, and do.
This is the phase where an individual is not your customer, yet – the first time when your company catches their attention, and it is during that first interaction – statistically, in 10 microseconds, that makes a company memorable in the mind of customers. In addition to that, nowadays, with the growing competition, a customer comes across thousands of logos, advertisements, and other mentions of a company’s name. It goes without saying, they do not remember them all. In fact, such noise makes it difficult for a customer to focus on a single element of a single company.
Solution: By highlighting the company’s vision, principles, opinions, and work culture, you not only bring a sense of uniqueness to the table which ultimately becomes memorable, but through this transparency, you also invite people to become a part of your brand.
Front Row, Last Row
With the internet making its place in our lives, for good or for bad, nothing goes unnoticed. A customer who comes across your brand will share their thoughts on the same with others. A brand identity expert, David Brier, says “If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they will define your brand’s story for you,” and I couldn’t agree more. A company that lets the matter into others’ hands to decide how the company shall be perceived, loses millions of opportunities to turn an individual into a loyal customer.
Solution: Decide how you want your target audience to feel, what you want them to know, and when you want them to spread the word. By taking actions, showing instead of telling, and intentionally working on your presence, you build an outline concerning images, messages, and feelings for your brand.
To Sum Up,
Gather a sense of self-awareness aligned with your brand, purpose-driven activities, empathetic and effective communication approach, responsiveness, and walk along with your customers, employees, and partners on the road to conscious branding leading towards mutual growth and success.