The secret to building a million-dollar brand?
I’ve wandered into hundreds, perhaps thousands, of shops in my lifetime. Most of them fade into a blur, and only a few have left a permanent, indelible imprint in my mind. One of those shops? The Dior store at Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
The moment that my friends and I walked inside, we were greeted with warmth and generosity. The shop employees chatted with us, made us feel like royalty, and spoiled us with champagne and makeup demonstrations. After discovering that it was my birthday, two employees snuck into the back and returned with delicate white lily flowers for me and all of my friends. A gift, at no charge, just because. We carried those flowers out of the shop—and we carried lifelong memories, too.
Dior is a brand that makes you feel something. It evokes emotion. This is what all of the world’s most successful brands do, whether a startup or renowned company. Whether it’s Nike, Glossier, Dry Bar, SoulCycle, a celebrity brand or a smartphone app, successful brands share one thing in common: they forge an emotional connection with their target market.
If you want your startup’s brand to stand out in the crowded marketplace, it’s all about emotion.
People are only buying one thing from you – the way the engagement (hiring you, working with you, perusing your store, buying your products and services) makes them feel. In order to resonate, and ultimately connect, you have to earn a piece of valuable real estate in your potential client’s heart and mind.
Put simply, you need to create a brand that sparks positive emotions. How? By remembering the 5 Cs: Clarity, Conversation, Community, Content and Consistency.
Let’s break these down a little further…
Before you create a logo, website and Facebook ads, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
- What does your brand stand for?
- Who do you serve? Who is your target audience?
- What value do you provide?
- How do you want consumers to feel when they interact with your brand?
Can you answer these questions clearly and confidently? If not, it’s time to get back to the drawing board. Make sure you can answer the above questions with clarity, because if you feel vague and confused about what you’re offering, then your customers will feel confused, too—and confusion does not lead to sales.
Successful brands invite consumers into the conversation—asking questions, encouraging them to share their stories, highlighting their victories and making them feel like they’re an important part of the dialogue. (Which, of course, they are!)
Which leads to…
When your client feels like she’s a part of something bigger (a movement, a revolution, a tribe, a top-secret insider’s club, or the heroine of her own story), then she will become a loyal fan, singing your praises from the rooftops.
One of my favorite beauty brands, Glossier, has mastered the art of community building. Glossier’s brand aims itself at millennials who crave high-quality products “that won’t cost you half a paycheck.” They reward top customers with special perks, including “friend of a friend” discounts. In the Glossier world, everyone is a VIP, and everyone is an influencer.
When clients ask me, “What type of content should I share online? A blog? A podcast? Social media content?” the short answer is, “Anything, as long as it’s inspiring, entertaining, educational or all of the above.”
Share content that sparks emotion—because emotion is what inspires potential customers to take action, whether it’s subscribing, sharing or purchasing.
Once again, Glossier does this beautifully. The brand’s products come in chic packaging, and their fans love uploading product photos to social media. Glossier will often re-post these images on their own social accounts, highlighting fans in their inimitable chatty, inclusive style. This type of fan-generated content is perfectly aligned with Glossier’s community-focused spirit.
Does the tone of your newsletter match the tone of the copy on your website and your podcast content? Is your bio consistent across your social media channels? When someone visits your website, or steps into your shop or office for a face to face meeting, will they be provided with the same type of experience, and feel the same types of emotions?
Aim for consistency in all aspects of your startup’s branding. Inconsistency leads to confusion in your consumer’s mind. As I mentioned a bit earlier (and I really can’t stress this enough), a confused mind never buys.
By bringing the 5 Cs into your brand—Clarity, Conversation, Community, Content and Consistency—you’ll elevate your brand from banal to brilliant, striking and memorable.
Ultimately, it’s all about creating memorable experiences and positive emotions for your consumers. This is the hallmark of a legendary brand.
And whether you’re a beauty brand like Glossier, a smartphone app developer, a copywriter, a financial advisor or a life coach, your first step is to ask yourself, “What kinds of emotions do I want my clients and customers to feel?” and then build your brand accordingly. This is what separates the memorable brands from the ho-hum, forgettable ones.