Now that you have developed a product and have sold a few widgets you need to decide where to go from here. There are a variety of options to grow your company. I would contend that you would be best off by pursuing an approach that turns your brand from solely a product-centric company to a story-telling brand that people can connect to. Become something beyond just a widget, be a lifestyle brand.
What Type Of Brand Should You Be?
You have a few options in today’s marketplace.
First, you can run ads and target a specific ROI and hopefully continue to feed enough good product that the conversion stays on target. This transactional approach works for many. However, there are some flaws with going solely on this strategy. It is a game of constant optimization, testing, and targeting. You are always chasing the next sale. Bid costs continue to rise as the market gets more saturated. Also, you never know when or if that strategy dries up.
Second, you can put everything on autopilot and outsource as much as possible. This might let you retire to that dream island and let everyone else work for you. This sounds great until the economy no longer has a need for your product or someone comes into your space and does it better. If your product is recession proof and no one can do it better then go for it.
Third, you can sell off your company. This will take you out of the game, but hopefully, give you a lump sum payday for all of your hard work up to this point.
As you can see, you have a variety of options to sell your widget. Obviously, this is not where this article is going. Here, I want you to learn about option 4, building a lifestyle, or culture, based brand. I want you to take from these tips how to turn your product idea into a brand that others want to align themselves with.
Tell A Good Story
More and more in our culture, we want something that we can be a part of. We are seeking out more ways to connect than ever before. The internet has evolved from a connected email and search engine to a full-fledged communal device. We now have the world in the palm of our hands in a near-literal way. Apps, connected devices, cameras, and everything in between has given us the ability to be continually connected. Everyone has a voice and a community. With this, everyone wants to feel a part of this larger system. Now, how can your brand leverage this?
We love stories. We want to be connected to that which we can relate to. We want to be passionate about something that interests us. The more we relate to a brand, a cause, a story, or a belief, then the more we want to associate ourselves with everything that it is about. As humans, we have always loved a good story. It is what keeps going to the theater, consuming media, worshipping celebrities. It is the story. We love a good narrative. What is the genesis of your brand? How can you convey this to your customer base?
Tips To Developing a Lifestyle Brand
Now that you have a product and you’ve chosen to become a lifelong brand then you need to find your narrative. Here are some things that you can do to become a true lifestyle brand.
Know Your Genesis Story
Don’t fabricate it, but tell your story. Why are you around as a brand? What are you in business for? What are you trying to solve? What gets you and your team up every morning and coming to work? If you have a passion for your brand then what is it that drives this?
A strong narrative helps people associate with your brand. Whether it is a David vs. Goliath experience, a fight the status quo mentality, fixing a major problem, creating memorable experiences, or whatever it may be, you have an opportunity to tell this story. At Altra, we built our brand off of our genesis story. We told the two-fold story of a team of guys coming together and developing a footwear brand in the basement and doing it to solve a problem. We educated on this story and worked to help people understand this story.
Think of the brands that you personally can affiliate yourself to. What is it that appeals to you of these brands? There are many great examples of brands telling a strong narrative that keeps their audience engaged and committed to their brand. Spend some time as a team and think deep about what this story and experience is. The genesis and purpose of your brand are what people will connect to. This then lives throughout everything that you do. Every marketing piece that you produce, every product that you make, and every sales call will live and abide by this vibe.
Deliver Your Story
It doesn;t do you any good to have a good story if you are not going to tell it. You need to properly package your story and tell it to the world. Utilize all of your resources available to tell this story. Be sure that your staff is telling it every opportunity that you can. Be sure that your website and key marketing materials tell your story. Let everyone hear it.
Think about it, what if Mark Twain never recorded his thoughts into a book? What if George Lucas never told the story of Luke Skywalker? We could keep going, but you get the idea. A story doesn’t do anyone any good when it is bottled up and contained. It needs to be told. Once you have your core story then find ancillary stories to tell off of it. Use this content on your blog, your social channels, throughout your video and imagery strategy. Put together a content deployment strategy that involves the overarching story and these appendage stories. You will then never run out of content, especially if you can build your story off of your employees and loyal fans.
Leverage All Content Assets
Be a hoarder when it comes to building your brand. Keep photos of everything. When you are working on building your brand and establishing yourself use all the resources that are available to you. If you can afford high-end content creation then go for it, but it doesn’t always need to be fancy and professional. Depending on the image of your brand you may need this, but you may be able to get away with raw and organic content. Sometimes the organic content is the best. Don’t force it, make it real. The key to proper organic content is that is real. Don’t go out and shoot it with a cheap point and shoot. You can often use an iPhone to get great content. Sometimes it is more important to create the content than to do it with studio quality skillset.
As mentioned above, use your staff, your fans, and your story to build out your content strategy. The more assets that you have then the better off you are. Build it and then you can systematically deliver it. Use a variety of assets to tell your story. Engaging commentary and questions, long-form blog posts, email content, user stories, user generated content, imagery, and video.
Empower Your Audience
Branding is a strategy that is centuries old. Amongst its origins is the branding of livestock to distinguish ownership. Today, it is not much different, except that now your brand users will mark themselves with your brand. This often will go beyond the product. How many Apple stickers do you see on cars driving along the highway? Let your customers mark themselves by being a voice for your brand. Encourage them to share your content. Empower them with the story, the content, and the experience to share with their community.
Utilize an influencer strategy to keep them involved and excited. Your audience is going to be your best sales team and biggest advocates. Give them the tools to succeed in selling your brand. Keep them informed. Use their content on your channels.
Put together a strategy around your brand story. Put together an implementation plan and execute it. Grab the camera and start shooting some video and still content. Start typing away to get a basket of content to share. You can produce content in mass, but be sure to stretch out the delivery. Use your customers to become a network and community. Leverage their content to help promote them and better tell your brand story.
As you associate your brand with a strong story then you will move from just a widget company to a lifestyle brand. Moving into this realm will put you into a new element as a brand. You will have an increased longevity. You will be able to better ride the waves of business and changes in strategy. Execute the narrative and build the community and great things will happen for your brand.