If you think of some of the strongest brands out there today, such as Supreme, Louis Vuitton, and Apple, there is little to truly differentiate them from their competitors, but yet they are able to captivate consumers with their branding and routinely entice large priced sales. This level of consumer dedication comes from a few elements but largely is reliant on a strong brand and brand loyalty with your target niche.
As you aim for this level of success, you need to ensure you can effectively transition your product from a consumer item to an appealing brand. This means you need to breathe life into the product and continue to design and launch similar products for the brand. Making these choices will entirely depend on your target customer and what their personal desires are, but a few tricks can help you execute with precision.
These case studies for brand development can inspire you no matter what stage of the game you are at.
#1 Share a Unique Voice: Nadine Ghosn Fine Jewelry
Nadine’s lively social media channel offers an intimate look into her fun and exotic life as a globetrotting designer. Since her high-end affordable jewelry aims to capture everyday beauty, aligning her branding and marketing with the authentic story of her everyday life not only enables her to display the beauty of life as she sees it, but also helps her have a more realistic and relatable conversation with her consumers.
Brand building alone is not good enough, you need to also ensure you capture consumers’ loyalty, and this metric relies upon strong continued engagement. As a company, you need to consistently talk to your customers in the means they know best (often social media) and drop the formalisms of corporations and instead be real and raw. Make them relate to you and see life as you see it and you will win their loyalty.
#2 Develop a Lifestyle: Soylent
People either love or hate Soylent. It is a brand synonymous with optimization and a utopian society. Realistically it is a slightly different version of Muscle Milk, so why do consumers hold such strong connotations and opinions for the company? Ultimately, Soylent knew their customers were people who wanted to live a life dedicated to work and productivity, at the sake of cooking and cleaning. Their pure white and black logos, bottles, and site put forth a sterile and minimalistic associations and their marketing centers not just on meal replacement, but a new way of life.
If your goal is to convince a sect of consumers that your product is essential for their long-term happiness, then you simply need to sell them on a lifestyle that makes your product critical for happiness. Supreme is the supreme emblem of street culture, North Face helps you reach the furthest limits of the world, and Soylent lets you be insanely productive and futuristic. Know what life your customers want to live and center your branding and products around that lifestyle, down to what hobbies you suggest they have.
#3 Corporate Social Responsibility: SUAVS Shoes
The first step towards building a brand is knowing what your brand story is. For SUAVS, the young fashion brand is building minimalist footwear to allow for a comfortable life requiring less pairs of shoes. This story resonates with their consumers, but in order to add more life and realism to the narrative, they continuously take measures to expand this narrative. Whenever their manufacturer sends shoes with slight imperfections, rather than sending customers imperfect shoes or worse throwing them out, they donate them to Soles4Souls to help benefit people in developing countries. Minimalism does not allow for waste, but even more so as SUAVS says, “it is the right thing to do.”
Corporate social responsibility is one of the easiest and most effective means to further a brand story, since it lets customers see a side of you that is not focused on profits. The CSR projects you undertake however, ought to be carefully chosen to both further an aspect of the brand narrative, as well as have authenticity. When Big Tobacco pays for smoking research, which says smoking does not have cancer, no one thinks they are doing beneficial social work for the world.
#4 Inspire Emotions: Belle V
Belle V is the Apple of the kitchen. The award-winning line of kitchen products from Lunar, one of the leading product design firms, which was recently acquired by McKinsey, and Prof. Ulrich, one of the leaders of the product design world. As Lunar describes the line, “The products inspire a sense of oneness.” Admittedly, as you look at their perfected kitchen products, there are no hard edges and every product looks beautiful and makes you feel a sense of wonder.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself from competitors is not just to provide style or functionality, but to take it a step further and think about what people think and feel upon seeing your product and brand. Having this awareness of your product-consumer fit will let you both stand out and add an extra layer of depth to the brand image. If you can let consumers feel an emotion when they interact with your lines, they will continue to engage with you in order to preserve that emotion.
Products need to have a concise brand story behind them in order to have long-term viability in the market, but making the switch from a product to a brand can be hard. If you are trying to find your niche or figure out your execution, the first thing you should do is look to other brands and what they are doing. Then try to understand why their brands work and don’t work and why they make you feel certain things. Branding is entirely about awareness and strategic company actions, but these four companies should help you take steps towards effective brand development.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.