Quick, name a brand that you admire.
Perhaps like many people, Apple might come to mind. As a matter of fact, according to Fortune, Apple is the most admired company on the planet. What if I asked you to name a few more? For me, brands such as Patagonia, Lululemon, Airbnb, and Who Gives a Crap toilet paper come to mind.
But what makes these brands so memorable and special?
In this article, we’ll uncover:
- 5 key questions these brands have mastered to create a brand that people will fall in love with.
- Why these questions matter, and how to apply them to turn your customers into fans.
Everyone loves a good story
1. What is the personal story or experience that inspired you to create your brand?
Everyone loves a good story.
But only the memorable ones get retold.
Why does that matter to branding? It is core to your brand. Without an origin story, your brand is just a bunch of text, logos, and graphics. The brand story ties everything together cohesively, and most importantly, a memorable one makes it easy for your customers to tell their friends.
Ever heard of Airbnb? Most likely. It was founded by Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia who rented out their airbeds as a bed-and-breakfast during a big convention in San Francisco (and yes, Airbnb sounds much cooler than “airbed and breakfast”). The story is simple, catchy, and easy to re-tell. Indeed, it has been retold countless times, not just by their fans, but also by their investors and the press. You can learn more about their story by listening to the How I Built This podcast where Guy Raz interviews Joe Gebbia.
Think about your story of starting your brand. What prompted it? Was it a personal experience that caused you to act? What did you do to execute the idea instead of just talking about it? Is the story easy to retell? Perhaps you too have a good hero’s journey story.
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
2. Why do you do what you do?
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
Can you identify which brand this is just from this sentence?
If you said Patagonia, then you are right. They are an influential company that grew out of a small business that made tools for climbers. They are singularly focused on silent sports – sports that don’t require an engine. And their goal is to “use the resources we have—our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations—to do something about” the fact that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. This clear and concise reason shapes their brand, and helps their fans understand why they do what they do.
Why do you get up every day and spend countless hours on your business? Perhaps there is something more than money that drives you. Whatever it is, tell it to your customers and the world.
For example at POPNOD, we are a marketing studio that champions women-led brands. We help the stories that matter be heard. It is why we do what we do.
Leave your legacy
3. What is your vision?
The word “vision” has so many connotations, but for us, we believe vision is the impact your brand will have on the lives of your customers and on the future.
One brand that has consistently demonstrated the ability to be “visionary” is Apple. While its mission is to bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services, it specifically focuses in six areas:
- Inclusion and Diversity
- Supplier Responsibility
It is one of the leading brands focusing on accessibility, aiming to improve the lives of all people via top-quality products. Many of the features we use and love on our various Apple devices have a lot more accessible functionality. These features all aim to reinforce their belief that “technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone”.
What is your vision? What is your legacy?
4. What are your values and beliefs?
Speaking of legacy, no brand can be truly memorable unless it lives by the very values that it defines. These values define who you are and what your brand stands for. These are the things you aren’t willing to compromise.
Take lululemon athletica for example. It is a technical athletic apparel company for yoga, running, training and most other sweaty pursuits. It is known for its manifesto. Perhaps you’ve seen it on their bags? I’ve included it here just in case:
What are things that you aren’t willing to compromise? Not only does your manifesto help your customer better understand and identify with your brand, it is also crucial for your employees, investors, and even vendors.
Who gives a crap?
5. How are you demonstrating your values and beliefs to the world?
While it’s important to delineate your values and beliefs, it’s even more important to intentionally demonstrate them to the world. Often, they coincide with your strategic differentiators, helping customers quickly understand how you are different and why they should buy from you.
Many of the brands we’ve mentioned so far are large famous brands. But these concepts equally apply to small and medium size businesses.
One brand that has done that exceptionally well, especially in a crowded commoditized field, is Who Gives a Crap. They make toilet paper. By plastering their story all over the toilet paper wrappers, providing guidance to customers on how to display their toilet paper, and creating unique ads and marketing campaigns, they’ve successfully demonstrated their values and beliefs to the world.
How are you demonstrating your values to the world? What are your differentiators and how are you telling everyone about it? Are you including your values in your communications to customers, via the website, welcome emails, and newsletters?
Want to create a brand that people admire? Here’s your homework:
1. Set aside some time to reflect and respond to these 5 key questions
2. Put your answers away and don’t read it for 3 days
3. After 3 days, read your answers. If the answers have changed, update them and repeat steps 2-4.
4. If your answers start to resonate with you, then use them to build a single, powerful narrative to craft a distinct and stand-out brand.
This article originally appeared in the Omnisend blog and has been published here with permission.