Building Brands with “Bridges"

Published: Monday, June 11 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Apple's commercial in 1997, following Steve Jobs return to power as CEO, addresses the emotional reason people use Apple. "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. Apple is more than clever devices. It's a way of life.

Keep in mind that thoughtful entrepreneurs have found it's hard work, challenging and time consuming to build brilliant brands. Savvy leaders start with research and a concept, followed by a plan, a design and lastly superb execution. They begin with a clear understanding of the customer and what drives their purchasing behavior.

However, I have also observed that many companies miss the mark and unfortunately do a poor job of clearly declaring their emotional connection to customers. With this in mind, let me share six key steps to building a superior bridge to shoppers.

1. Know your customers well. Spend plenty of time becoming acquainted.

2. Learn what their emotional needs are. Dig deeply. Learn the feelings that influence their behaviors, attitudes and actions.

3. Understand your product's features and clearly recognize the emotional benefits your product can deliver to your buyers.

4. Is there a perfect alignment between your product's benefits and the consumer's emotional wishes?

5. Does your brand messaging clearly communicate the connection?

6. Survey customers to learn if the link is working. Is the value real? Is the consumer satisfied?

Customers tend to know what they want: listen to them. Customers like surprises: delight them. Customers have deeply felt emotions: appeal to them. Customers have individual needs and motivations: cater to them. Customers want fulfillment: provide it.

What are the brand bridges that are currently speaking to you? And how do you build these bridges in the products you develop for others? I welcome your thoughts. You can reach me at www.AlanEHall.com or connect to me at @AskAlanEHall.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is the Chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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