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View of Sky from Hole in Ground
August 2nd, 2016

Brand Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

This is a simple concept to grasp, yet in practice we rarely see it properly implemented. Certainly not in a controlled, effective way that influences behavior and helps build brand preference.

For this discussion, we’ll imagine your brand is built on four foundational pillars:

  1. Educational Play
  2. Science-Based Design
  3. Safety
  4. Fun

Let’s now invent what you do. You could be a toy manufacturer or a treehouse designer or an above ground pool company or a maker of outdoor yard games, etc. The whole idea is that when you define what these four pillars mean (insert your real ones here), and put them together, you have a position and proposition that is distinctly you. It is your brand and your brand only. And it is ownable and meaningful, and you can protect it.

Of course, the other important attribute you build into this unique mix of foundational elements is “value”. You learn what “value” means through research to confirm that your focus and positioning will provide value that people want to buy into. You talk to parents and kids. You survey retail buyers. You even interview teachers and academic institutions to validate your research and design. This all confirms that they love what you’re doing, and agree it is needed and has value in your market space. What next?

Many companies get busy in developing marketing and sales tools based on the overarching pillars of their brand. They try to allocate equal space to convey in words, photographs, illustrations, and design their unique set of features, advantages, and benefits. Which, in the imaginary example above, involves describing how their educational play, science-based design, safety, and fun combine to create a better solution / environment / experience than the competition’s.

This all sounds good, but here’s the rub…value is in the eye of the beholder.

Whether you’ve delved into this nuance or not, each of your audiences perceives the value of your position and offering differently. For instance, parents may prioritize the value of your solution as: 1) Fun 2) Safety 3) Educational Play 4) Science-Based Design. Teachers and academics could line them up differently—say: 1) Safety 2) Educational Play 3) Fun 4) Science-Based Design.

When this is the case, and it usually is, it’s smart to define your Value Proposition to each of your audiences before creating the visual and verbal messages that will be the bedrock of your sales and marketing. Imagine if parents place 80% of their value on Fun and Safety, but teachers and academia place 90% of their value on Safety and Educational Play. That would require a significantly different approach and conversation—right?

Here’s another example (see diagram).

Customer Segments Diagram

In a recent development program for a mid-size B2B manufacturer, we helped define the key customer segments, prioritized by their specific ranking of the value of our clients’ products. This not only led to product features + designs by segment, but also specific message development to each segment. Messages that flowed into the design of printed and digital collateral, and, of course, into sales messages and approaches.

When you dig deeper into the prioritized value elements by each of your customer segments, you create an opportunity to speak with customers more intimately and accurately. This shows that you understand them and have done the work to make them feel special.

Try it. They’ll love you for it.

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