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The Catalyst of Consumer Choice

Putting your clients' interest before your own

When brands communicate to the masses they typically try to emphasize things in a particular order: Who They Are; What They Sell; How They Deliver High Quality; and sometimes Why They Matter. That order matches their own priorities so the temptation is to convey the information in that order with customers. When they spend marketing dollars this priority order is often used to produce websites, ads, videos, and brochures. Quite often they don't even get to Why and focus on Who they are and What they sell in the belief that who they are and what they are selling is the most important thing to their customers as well. But it's not.

Start With Why

The key to persuasive communications is to align your own priorities with that of your customer which is to say, reverse the order. Explaining Why first puts the emphasis on making that connection, not assuming you already have one. Buyers are not interested in your needs. To open the line of communication, they want to know "why should I pay attention? And what's in it for me?" When you start with Why you convey your inspiration and beliefs in what you do. When your inspiration and beliefs align with the buyer's, you establish trust and common ground. Your inspiration demonstrates why it is you do what you do. Your motives beyond earning an income. But most importantly, connecting with customers with common motives and trust is the catalyst of persuasion when it comes to making a brand choice. We want to do business with people who share our values and goals.

The reason reversing the information funnel is so persuasive and starting with Why works so well is in the way we are hard-wired. It's how our brain works. Facts, such as product details, are processed by the neo-cortex, the part of the brain responsible for rational and analytical thinking as well as language. Many of us try to use statistics, numbers and facts to guide our buying decisions on big ticket items, but the neo-cortex is incapable of actually making the final choice. In fact it's the oldest part of our brain, the limbic region that controls human behaviour and our feelings, including trust and loyalty. Most importantly, our limbic brain is responsible for decision making despite having no capacity to process numbers or language. Why is an emotionally charged question. It's also the key to getting people's attention and to brand preference.

Only when people know why they should listen to you do they really open the line of communication. Only then will they care to learn What You Sell and Who You Are. The Why First information order is ideal for writing adverts, scripting a video or creating marketing materials. But this strategy is even more important earlier on when you choose a brand positioning.

"Why Us" - the foundation of a strong brand position

What is your company's reason for being? Besides making money, why do you do what you do? Brand Genesis begins with defining your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Finding an original premise – an idea or concept that differs from all your competitors, but shares common ground with your customers. It can be based on a belief, a value, a sense of style or state of mind. Something that resonates and speaks to them emotionally. When you inspire people, they are not only more likely to get to the fine print, they are far more inclined to believe it.

While core values are always important, what separates a good brand positioning from a great one is emotion. Finding an inspired company positioning that is unlike your competition is of paramount importance because the connection it creates serves as your personal line of communication with your audience. One that your competition cannot share. This mind-share should be deep and broad to pave the way for future growth.

Most companies start by explaining What they sell. But this reversal of information order creates a blunt arrowhead and their advertising/communications messages fail to stick. Information without inspiration is dull noise in a media cluttered world. When you lead with Why, they get the point.

Two keys to taking ownership of a position in the minds of your audience are believe-ability and originality. If people hear something different and believe what they hear, they will make a connection. If your beliefs, attitude and position aligns with their own, you are well on your way to creating consumer loyalty, word of mouth and a brand culture. The "Why Us" approach doesn't sell a product, it sells your brand. It grows and defends your market share and increases the perception of premium quality.

Inspirational TED Talk speaker Simon Sinek is the author of Start With Why, a book that explains this strategy in more detail. Simon's uses a "Golden Circle" to convey the concept with a focus on company leadership. But it's no different than the Rowe+Co brand arrow - an analogy we developed over a decade earlier specifically for developing penetrating brand messages. See Simon's TED Talk video below.

A Premium Brand Position is More Profitable and Sustainable

One of the greatest benefits of strong branding is the ability to earn a premium over other brands. Strong brands do not need to discount their products as much or as often, and they have the highest loyalty, repeat business and customer satisfaction. A dynamic brand culture also improves company morale and investor confidence.

The Importance of "Unique" in Your USP

Ironically the most common branding mistake companies make, they do deliberately. That is to copy their most successful competitors in the belief that doing so could replicate their success. Sadly, this reinforces peoples belief in who the leader is and defines you as a follower - not a leader - and implies that your product or service is also second rate. Many companies take years to figure this out and it is for this reason brand revitalization for existing brands has become so common.

Besides your logo and colours, how unique is your brand positioning?  Is it unlike all your competitors? To create such a brand requires both depth and breadth of knowledge as to where your business and customers have been and where they are going. Your USP should not be a description of your business, but rather convey the spirit of the company in a way that touches people. Nike's "Just Do It", VW's "Drivers Wanted, and Apple's "Think Different" are well known examples. They reflect the attitude of their customers and are positions unlike their competitors. But they do not describe their product or make all-too-common references to quality or price.  The key to an effective USP is to build a relationship based on your emotional common ground. Such positioning gives you room to grow because it doesn't define what you are today. It's a position that you can completely own. Believable, sustainable and position that explains "Why Us". A strong USP may speak to the product, or it may speak to the experience of the product, the benefits, or may be even more general and speak to the aspirations that guide you. It will moves the masses, one customer at a time. Contact Rowe+Co to learn more.