This is a three part series and a refined excerpt of a presentation I gave last month for fashion entrepreneurs in conjunction with People Wear SF and the San Francisco Fashion Incubator. While it’s a generalized overview of branding basics, there are reminders for brands of all sizes about the art of crafting and telling your story. If you have questions, or want to unearth some deeper ideas together, do something crazy: drop me an old-fashioned note using the helpful form located here. Let’s dig.
So you've built a rock-solid brand and defined your core purpose, now what? It’s time to build an audience that believes in your brand, and then communicate your value to that audience. But it's important to be tactful about defining your target audience, building a following, and communicating with your chosen ones.
The old adage still rings true. Like I mentioned in the first part of this series, if you have yet to define your mission, vision, promise, key values, or core purpose, start over at the beginning. Clearly understanding yourself before you ask others to get to know you is paramount. Once you've done that you can begin to define your target audience. Here are a few things to consider when doing so:
Diligently define your audience and then don’t stray from it.
If you’re talking to everyone, no one will listen. Once you’ve chosen your lane, stay in it.
Start with a small audience and make them into disciples. A small but engaged audience is a more cohesive and powerful voice than a disengaged, large audience. It’s not about followers—it’s about meaningful engagement.
Stay close to your audience and tap into their values—if you’ve attracted the right customers, their values should align with your own and they’ll be just as invested in your values as they are in your product or service.
The brands that will be lasting and iconic in the next generation will lead with purpose and pursue social change and advocacy. "Over 87% of consumers believe that businesses need to place equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests." (WeFirst | 2012 Edelman Good Purpose study)
Market a promise or human potential, not a product. The savvy consumer doesn’t want to be sold something; they want to feel something, or be made privy to a group, an idea, or a value. Brands often promise an affiliation or association with something that provides consumers with an intangible benefit. Just consider for a moment all of the commercials that have aired during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Dick's Sporting Goods aired Gold In Us, a minute long feature about the elemental greatness that exists in all of us who have the strength to dig it out. Following the unveiling of the campaign, the CEO of Dick's announced that $1,000 would be donated to charitable causes for every medal won by team USA. Purpose.
A second example is Under Armour's Michael Phelps Rule Yourself ad, which is one of the most shared Olympic spots of all time. It's a promise that relentless hard word, dedication, and human sacrifice will pay off. The work itself allows you to win, to be great, and to feel a part of something so big that very few people can ever achieve it. It's potential. That perfect song by The Kills doesn't hurt either.
Play The Long Game
Trends in brand storytelling come and go and everyone is quick to jump on the latest content marketing trend. Listen to trends and don't be afraid to make missteps along the way (it's better to go bold than be right), but also be strategic about your choices and always be able to connect every chapter of your story back to your core purpose. If you've taken the steps to build disciples even what "you do in the dark" won't go unnoticed because an engaged audience will pull you into the light.
Is content king? In the third and final post of the series I'll answer that question and provide 10 tips for getting started on content marketing and staying true to your story.