We’ve talked about the customer journey quite a bit lately and how your brand can and should affect that journey. When you intentionally design brand experiences you emotively influence the behavior of your customers. But how does that happen, and who, exactly, is the customer? For American manufacturers, customers come in many shapes. Dealers, distributors, retailers and, yes, even consumers or end users. Not to mention your financial partners, vendors, suppliers, industry experts and associations, and, perhaps most important, your employees. So with which one should your brand communicate?
All of them.
Building authentic connections with each version of your public is imperative to establishing lasting meaning, value, and preference for your brand. To do so, you must have a conversation with each and every one of your customers. Sometimes tough conversations. That’s why audience persona development is so important to the sustainable success of your business. And your brand. It helps shape the conversation and clears the path for the many customer journeys your constituents will make. Persona development will identify what is important about your brand, product, or service to each of your audiences.
Manufacturing has long been considered the engine of growth in America and throughout the world. Not being an economist, I won’t delve into the differences of intensive versus extensive manufacturing or reference Kaldor’s Laws. However, I am a brand strategist and practitioner with quite a few years of success building brands for companies. What I know is that a manufacturer’s business success is dependent upon their brand satisfying customer needs and desires better than the competition. And developing authentic messages that communicate the true pillars of your brand is greatly enriched through audience personas. These pillars that shed light as to the authenticity come from your brand having purpose.
All brands should have a purpose—”why” they exist. When deployed as part of a unifying strategy between your business goals and overall brand strategy it will drive behavior and influence culture, both internally and externally. This creates what we call a brand ecosystem, which nurtures and feeds off of the brand experiences developed as a consequence. These brand experiences should be a reflection of how you are communicating to your various customers, based on knowing who they are.
Every member of your family has a different personality and you approach them in conversation based on those differences. It’s no different with customers. Your brand must approach these personas based on their unique set of characteristics. Consider the insights you know about who they are and what they are interested in, then use your authentic voice to empathetically communicate why you exist as a brand.
Your brand position should be unique, ownable, and different, and how you communicate to your various customers has to imbue those endearing attributes. How you communicate with your bank or your suppliers is different from how you communicate with your consumer. Nevertheless, your brand must stand for and mean the same thing to them all. Understanding the subtle particulars that are most important to each “customer” can make the difference between a good brand and a great one.
Developing unique customer personas will help you communicate to everyone with the same authentic connections while staying true to who you are and why you exist as a brand.