In order to create a successful brand, you need to have a product that is truly relevant. Once you’ve identified the target market you want to serve, your aim is to provide a product that fully addresses your target’s needs. You aim to provide a product that delivers on multiple levels.
First, a product is defined by a set of product features and attributes. These features provide a set of functions. These functions address a set of consumer needs. However, product features can be copied. Functional benefits can be bested. If your product can do something X-times faster, someone can always make a product that can be faster still.
Therefore, to be a truly relevant product that commands loyalty, that product needs to address beyond the functional needs. That product needs to address the target’s emotional needs. It is through these emotions that a brand can truly connect with its targets.
How do we discover that emotional need? One way is to simply ask your target market – but of course, it is never that simple.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. – Henry Ford
The Ford quote is insightful in multiple ways. First, if Ford had asked his target market what they wanted, they could have never imagined the solution. Their world was filled with horses and buggies. Furthermore, if Ford had simply asked people what they wanted, they would have likely provided superficial answers. They would have simply said faster horses, and would not have revealed their emotional needs.
For us to understand our targets’ emotional needs, we need to dig deeper.
One technique that has been used for decades to dig deeper is the Five-Why framework. Essentially, you ask why five times. (I like to add “Tell me more” to the framework to invite more information sharing.) You may not always need all five whys. Sometimes, you get to the underlying emotions before you finish asking why five times. But using this framework provides you with the discipline to keep digging till you find that underlying emotional needs. Using words like “why” and “tell me more” also encourages you to ask open-ended questions and to avoid leading questions.
- Why are you buying a car? So, I can go places.
- Tell me more about going places. Why do you want to go places? Because I need to go to work.
- Tell me more about going to work. Why do you need to go to work? I need to make money.
- Tell me more about money. Why do you need to make money? So, I can provide for my family.
- Tell me more about providing for your family. Why is able to do that important to you? Because I’m a man. I’m a husband and a father. I’m supposed to provide for my daughter and my wife.
For this particular target market, a car isn’t just a tool that takes him to places. It is a tool to help him provide for his families. It is a tool that reinforces his masculinity. It is a tool that reaffirms his role in the family and in the world. Understanding this emotional needs gives you the opportunity to create a deeper connection with your target. For example, in social media, you don’t need to just keep talking about the car’s features. You can create conversations about family. You can have conversations about fatherhood. You can generate conversations about manhood. And in these multi-dimensional conversations, you elevate your brand beyond just a brand that makes cars. You improve the relevance of your brand. You create brand affinity. You generate brand loyalty.
What should your brand be about?
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Photo source: Boudewijn Berends