“Why should anyone give a damn about your brand?” Brand expert David Brier has made that statement to me on many occasions.
I think that’s how it is for many of us in the startup world: we need to keep hearing things till it really gets through to us. We too rarely look at our brands from the standpoint that we need to in order to not only survive but excel.
This results in many entrepreneurs needing a bit of “Brand Intervention.” The first step for many of us is to recognize it.
As entrepreneurs, we commonly think this thing (our baby) that we’ve created is the greatest thing ever and its benefits to the world will be self-evident (like some telepathic “contact-high”).
A case in point is many brands and endless startups have died due to lack of differentiation.
As sales expert and NY Times bestselling author Grant Cardone has stated, “Obscurity is your biggest enemy.” If no one knowing who you are is your biggest enemy, then everyone thinking you’re just more of the same is a very close second.
I got a chance to sit down with branding expert and Chief Gravity Defyer, David Brier (who’s worked on global brands such as Rolling Stone magazine, Revlon and Estee Lauder to numerous startups and even cities) to discuss the current state of branding, something he covers brilliantly in his forthcoming book Brand Intervention, 33 Steps to Transform the Brand You Have into the Brand You Need with a Foreword written by Shark Tank’s Daymond John.
According to Brier and his 30+ years of branding companies worldwide in nearly every industry, there are 3 key factors that all entrepreneurs must have in alignment or risk having a brand with no impact or staying power.
- Why Should Anyone Give a Damn about Your Brand?
“There are a few myths and blind spots for entrepreneurs. These cost them an unbelievable amount of lost sales and waste of time. The first question entrepreneurs must ask is why anyone should give a damn about your brand? Entrepreneurs forget we’re all one Google search away from finding hundreds of thousands of actual alternatives to our product or service, that thing we so passionately love.
“So it’s facing that reality.
“I don’t give a shit how drunk you are with your baby, your product or service. As entrepreneurs, we all too easily confuse passion with actual value. Passion is internal (and vital). But in branding, unless you have psychic powers to convince masses of your brilliance.
“Your #1 job is to make that passion and buzz real in the external world, to create that bridge between your passion—your baby—and the outer world, causing the world to realize that your brand is something worth paying attention to.
“That then dovetails to the greatest enemy that any brand has: to become a boring, me-too cliche (totally blending in); a nightmarish cousin to that (which too many businesses miss) is indifference. It’s better to be hated than to not even be worth caring about. If your brand is boring no one will care about or remember you.”
- Who’s in Your Space?
“So one thing that people don’t know is a little exercise that I do with any brand—whether I’m rebranding it, working with a startup or whether it’s refreshing an existing brand—is to take inventory of what I call ‘the noise level’ out there.
“You’ve got to take inventory of that ‘noise level’ because, again that’s where the passion thing can become such a blind spot, because brands being excited are like ‘Oh, let me explain. It’s ‘state of the art.’ And we’re ‘the next generation of XYZ’ and we have ‘great customer service’ with people who are really knowledgeable.
“In other words, you hit a shit storm of cliches that do nothing for a company but add to the existing noise in the marketplace with your competitors doing and saying the exact same thing; they think their passion is as unique as you think your passion is.
“So what? That means nothing here.
“This is often the first discussion I have with clients. I let them finish telling all of these cliches.
“Then I tell them this: I get what you’re saying. And now let me tell you two important words that will change your life: ‘You’re wrong.’
“After that, everything gets much, much better.”
- What’s Your Target’s Internal Demographic?
“Traditional demographics are artificial and bullshit. What I mean by that is what most people look at is the demographics: What’s the age group? Women from 18 to 35 or women who live in this zip code or guys who drink beer. Demographics like these are such an arbitrary thing. Demographics are not reflective of the individual.
“Let me ask you this: Why is it that certain muscle cars can be bought by 80 year old widowers, and at the same time, be on the wish list of a 20-year old? How does that work in terms of demographics?
“Well, it’s because there’s the internal demographic which is: they both love things that are fast and make them feel young. So, in other words, there’s an internal demographic that is senior to traditional demographics. External demographics are ‘after the fact’—it’s the demographics that are actually internal that make all the difference.
“So, I mean that one is what’s very, very interesting. When you when you start to look at it, you start to go look at all the early adopters demographically: none of them belong together. They’ll never be found at the same party. They never eat at the same place. How does all that work demographically?
“It comes down to the internal demographic, not the obvious, external demographic that’s a lazy way of analyzing and identifying an audience.”
After speaking with David, it became much clearer how much one had to pay attention to the subtle patterns and inconsistencies to really rise above all the noisy messaging going on out there.
By putting together all of the above, and by being able to answer it, you’ll arrive at the first key milestone for your brand.
In absence of this approach, you’ll never arrive at the first branding milestone.
The milestone that you are really reaching is learning exactly who your audience is, what will grab their attention (at an internal level) and to be on target.
Too many brands are totally missing it and relying on information that doesn’t matter into a market that doesn’t have a desire for it.
When building a brand and using this tool, it comes down to having a solid foundation. That is how you build something lasting and not end up being the next hot product sold on Amazon for ten minutes before it’s long forgotten.