One of the ongoing debates among digital marketers is over whether brand identity or customer understanding is more important in forming a digital marketing strategy.
Proponents of the former say if you haven’t clearly identified what your brand is and what differentiates it, you have no clear message to communicate. The other side argues that understanding the problems, needs, and desires of your customers and prospects is the key.
It begins to sound like a series of beer commercials from the 70s:
In the ads, fans of Miller Lite (assuming there are such people) take sides on one of the pressing issues of the time: is Miller Lite great because it tastes great, or because it’s less filling?
Here’s a classic example. (Sorry to oldmansplain this, but for you youngsters, George Steinbrenner was the volatile owner of the Yankees who famously fired and rehired manager Billy Martin five times.)
The point of the ads, of course, was that Miller Lite is (allegedly) both great tasting and less filling.
And so it is with understanding brand identity vs. understanding your buyers. It is critical that marketers have a clear understanding of both in order to create the best possible marketing messages.
Takes Two to Tango
A successful connection between a brand and a customer is quite literally a relationship. We can make an analogy to real human relationships. Essential to any healthy relationship is successful communication, and effective communication is always a two-way street. You have to have both a clear understanding of what you think and what you want to express, and the ability to listen deeply to what the other person’s expressing.
My point is the brand must know what it is and what it has to offer, and at the same time be listening carefully to and evaluating what customers and prospects want and need.
A brand that doesn’t know what its unique values are, what makes it stand out from the competition, what its story is, doesn’t have anything interesting to say. It’s an empty suit.
On the other hand, if the brand has little or no understanding of its customers and prospects, what their problems and struggles and wants and needs are, then the brand is in danger of talking past those customers, and no connection is made.
So as you devise your marketing plan, as you created your content, as you engage on social media, never make the mistake of unbalancing your message.
Always remember that good communication, good relationships, whether between two best friends, or between brands and their customers involve two who know each other and know themselves as well.
View this post as an entertaining, shareable 5-minute video from our Here’s Why series: