How do you define your brand? Do your customers see it the same way?
Let’s face it, how you describe your company and how others see it are often two very different things.
So how do you bring these together to build a strong brand identity, based on your customers’ needs, to really give them what they want, but keep an eye on the future at the same time? Data.
So where do you start?
This is perhaps the most important word when it comes to developing a brand identity, but something very often neglected, especially in the start-up scene.
Customer understanding should be the first stop. If you don’t understand your customer, how can you give them what they want? Any business needs to communicate not only a rational, but also a compelling emotional proposition to make sure it stands out against competitors and offers its audience a unique service.
After all, the rational reason why people purchase your product – it cleans their house, quenches their thirst, helps them find a partner – is not always leading in the decision process.
Not all decisions are purely rational, at least much fewer than we probably hope. Emotion plays a major role when it comes to making a purchase decision.
It’s usually the emotional benefit of your product that sets you apart from the competition and allows you to tell a unique story to win your customer.
To achieve this, you first need to identify your core audience, to see which demographics you are talking to and what makes them tick. In the case of online dating in particular, it’s important to understand the phase of life people are in, what they are looking for and what their opinions are – not only towards the product, but towards life (and love) in general.
“Having this information about your customers ensures relevant marketing messages can be delivered to the best possible audience”
Online dating companies are offering one of the most emotionally-driven services; as a result, understanding the in-depth psyche of the audience is key to making quality marketing and product decisions. Without this research, it’s impossible to understand who your customers are and what they want.
If you already have a customer base, conducting in-depth interviews and surveys is a must. Overall, operate under the belief that every customer – both existing and potential – is different and, more importantly, will react differently to a campaign or brand message.
Therefore, do not only talk to existing customers, but reach out to people who fall in your core audience but who do not already use your product or service. Understanding this group will allow you to effectively target a larger part of the market and therefore grow your brand.
At EliteSingles, this is where our focus groups and segmentation studies have been priceless, giving us deeper insight and understanding of current and future users’ needs.
However, in start-ups in particular or when launching in new markets, there is simply not a database to start with. Although this narrows your starting point a bit, researching the markets in which you operate is key.
Don’t be satisfied with answering a few basic questions, but truly delve into each market, identify core demographics (age, gender, income, urban vs. rural location) and use common sense combined with market research to answer your questions.
When reliable data isn’t available, or the data does not give a definitive answer to your question, go with your gut and take a leap of faith. However, using marketing based on assumptions to build up a user base can be risky, so always strive to validate concepts as soon as there is data available.
Knowing your audience is just one piece of the puzzle.
Know your industry
To create the strongest brand identity, you need to stand out. In order to do thisa, you need to understand what is happening in your industry. Without research, how can you differentiate your brand from competitors?
If you don’t understand the social, financial and technological changes that have occurred in your market and which may affect your product/service going forward, it’s difficult to stay relevant for a prolonged period of time.
Finding your identity is important, but keeping it fresh and unique in an ever-changing business landscape is the difference between sink and swim.
So why are we gathering all of this data? What can we actually achieve? As you now hopefully understand, basing a brand identity on insight and research paves the way for focused and efficient campaigns and consistency across all channels. Customer data is often overlooked when in fact it’s invaluable to marketing departments.
Having this information about your customers ensures relevant marketing messages can be delivered to the best possible audience.
It’s not just the marketing team that benefits. Product, IT, UX, customer support – they can all use customer analysis and feedback to plan their roadmap and decide where to dedicate the most resources.
Customers interact with your product every day. They bring it to life and see the pain and the plus points. By using their feedback, these teams can determine which elements need to be prioritised.
As a parting thought: always question your data and never take it at face value. Even when validated and implemented, focus on revalidating previous points every once in a while. The market and your consumers are always changing.
Your brand should be able to adjust accordingly.