Last week I was talking with a new friend who had just been promoted to the head of global strategy and product management for a multi-billion dollar company focused on providing tech-driven business solutions. As we explored the possibility of partnering on a few marketing projects, he described confronting just how stale and lifeless their brand has become.
They have extraordinary solutions that are truly best in class. They clearly state what they do and who they serve, but they are losing market share to younger, more agile companies who convey more life and passion around their offerings. His enterprise spends millions of marketing dollars every year communicating a message, but he is convinced it’s not connecting.
I wish I had been recording the conversation because what he conveyed so clearly captures how important it is to understand and convey the soul of your brand.
You know differentiation is important. Whether you are swimming in a big blue ocean with a product that is carving a clear new category, or slogging your way through a crowded pool of feature-per-feature competitors, understanding and communicating the soul of your brand is a critical cornerstone of your company’s market presence and can be a HUGE differentiator.
So what is the soul of your brand? The soul of the brand answers the question “Why?” And doing that well can be hard.
It is the soft side of market presence. It is a look, a feel, a sense, a subtle word choice, an attitude, a cause alliance, a voice, or the unique way you tell a story. It is the personality of your brand. And if you don’t know what the personality of your brand is, then you probably don’t have one. And that is an issue.
It is easy to talk about "what" we do — it’s where we spend most of our time. It's the specifics around the problem we are solving, feature sets, capabilities or the services we offer, and it is where a lot of B2B brands get stuck. Simon Sinek did a great job of illustrating this in his now famous TED talk where he described the problem with “What” messaging is it only lands in our neocortex. The rational part of our brain; it’s not our decision center. The limbic brain is where we tend to make decisions. And so when we are trying to persuade buyers we need to aim there.
Answering “How” opens the door to the limbic brain a bit. “How” starts to get at your differentiators: it sets up comparison and asks us to favor an approach. It’s "how" you do what you do that tends to set you apart from your competition in practical ways.
But answering "Why" you do what you do is where we really engage the limbic brain. It is were we process the subjective feelings like trust, sincerity, and loyalty — as well as decision-making.
“Why” is the heartbeat of your company. It’s the passion that drives you: what you will pound the table for. When we are talking about B2B technology products, our buyers often put their careers on the line to advocate for a particular solution. They want to know that the vendor they have chosen cares enough to stand with them in that board room defending their decision and is every bit as concerned as they are that this is going to win. Your solution is backed by a company full of people who care and are committed to going and growing with them over the long haul.
Soulful brands tend to have higher levels of loyalty and show higher conversion rates. Brand soul also steers employees’ activity in the areas of customer service, sales, product development, and innovation thus leading to an overall better experience with your company.
Communicating that kind of brand takes time, care, and intention. It means doing what it takes to know what goodness is at the core of your company, drawing it out, and learning how to express that personality in a way that connects with buyers. If you are interested in learning more about connecting with buyers, check out our free download on the Buyers Trust Journey. It explores the reality that over 60% of the typical B2B buying decision occurs before the buyer reaches out to have a person-to-person conversation about the sale. They are looking online, taking in the essence of what you are communicating, asking friends and colleagues, and developing their short list before there is ever a person-to-person conversation. What you convey in that space matters.
Understand the soul of your brand and communicate it well. It will help your buyers know why to choose you.
Uncovering brand soul is a big part of our Strategic Foundation process. If you want to learn more about how we can help you in the process contact us. We are ready.