A decade ago, Stealing Share went rogue. We specialize in persuasive branding. We challenged brand orthodoxy and promised the rebranding we do and the brands we create would be persuasive.
It was a revolution. Hard as it is to believe, branding agencies don’t see persuasion as one of their responsibilities. Traditional branding agencies don’t think that is needed or correct. It is just an afterthought.
Traditional Branding Agencies
They continue to hold onto old-school brand theory that is all about equities, not persuasion. They think that is someone else job. They mean the static symbols and design elements used in brand identity.
Go ahead and ask them. Then call us. We love to talk about our process. The other companies believe persuasion must be left to advertising and marketing.
If you can afford this much waste in your marketing budget, go here (link). They are folks school and live by the rules.
We break the rules.
Persuasive branding is the WHY
We are constantly upping our game. During this exploration, we uncovered the truth about branding. Powerful brands always reveal why you are doing whatever it is you do.
Because they are the reason “why” they must be, by their very nature — persuasive, if they are not persuasive, then they have no clarity.
Consider for a moment Apple. Remove your preconceptions for a moment. Love them or hate them, one thing is agreed— Apple makes terrific electronic devices and aesthetically beautiful products.
They invented how our computers work, how we listen and purchase music, how we communicate, and an entire genre of portable devices. They also exemplify persuasive branding.
How is that? It’s obvious. They charge a premium for everything they sell. And customers pay that premium. Their margins are robust, and their profit is double that of competitors. Ask yourself why?
Because Apple defined their brand by identifying their customers as being different and better, they told the world that Apple was for people who “think different.”
The heart of persuasive branding is for the prospect/customer to see your brand and FEEL it is for people like them. When you build that bond with your brand, prospects feel incomplete without owning whatever you are selling.
We invented a behavior modeling science to uncover those emotional persuasive branding intensities. And you are invited to read about it in-depth right here.
As a marketer, you must compensate for the lack of brand persuasion through tactics and targeting. If you are not segmenting your market, no doubt you are spending more than needed.
But market segmentation is only part of your persuasive branding story. And it is the tail end of the story.
In the self-serving world of commercial advertising, the costs of advertising messages continue to skyrocket. And it is progressively getting less effective. The stakes are high because the cost of failure is high, yet the promised land of success remains elusive.
Micro-targeting, mainly through social media, is essential today. It’s the latest form of market segmentation. Persuasive branding makes that more effective.
We base our modern take on brand strategy upon the idea that brand is most important because it IS the customer’s identity. Call us, and we will show you how this revolutionary model works.
Everything in the market today proves Stealing Share, and persuasive branding was right all along.
How do you judge the effectiveness of the brand’s communication? Advertising awards? Critical acclaim? Peer commentary? Employee reaction? Competitive reaction?
While all of these may be important, the only true measure of success in advertising remains sales growth. It seems obvious to measure an ad campaign’s success by looking at sales increases (or decreases).
However, most significant advertisers settle for critical (creative) acclaim first, and mediocre sales results second. All because they have no accurate means of measuring sales increases due to advertising success.
Here is why. Let’s talk about the three critical elements of successful advertising, two of which ad agencies and marketing departments already do very well. Let’s grade each element as we go.
Identification and the limits of market segmentation
Ad agencies are not persuasive branding practitioners. But, in fairness, they a few things well. If they possess any disciplines here might be three.
The first discipline is IDENTIFICATION, and we give agencies a B+. Identifying the correct target audience is crucial to success. You must find and understand the market you wish to influence.
When they are not self-serving and therefore self-deluded, marketing departments do a very respectable market segmentation job to identify those potential customers who offer the most significant opportunity for increased sales.
The traditional market segmentation method – segmenting into primary, secondary, and tertiary markets – has been supplanted by a much sharper understanding of the usage and habits that seem to define the target audience.
Advertising agencies and their media departments have market segmentation down to a science. It begs the question. What are the limits of market segmentation? Does it lead to persuasive branding?
They can identify a particular market segment’s media habits to such an acceptable degree that the myriad choices of media placement and frequency seem to have the clinical precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Market segmentation is not magic.
Remember that the recommendations are not as precise as the ad placement of them. There is no science of media placement.
Two different agencies may have very different media recommendations, both most certainly based on sound thinking. However, reach and frequency is founded on preconceptions based on experience.
There is no fundamental law that states that “X” number of impressions is necessary to stimulate action. These numbers are based on experience. But experience with generally failed advertising — but more about that later.
The second discipline is NOTIFICATION, and we give it an A-.
To be successful at notification, the identification discipline discussed earlier must be mixed with the creative juices that break all the ad clutter and get potential customers to “sit up and pay attention.”
You must reach the correct target audience, and you must find a way to get them to notice your message. The myth of the information age makes that a daunting task. Market segmentation can help with this.
It is, however, the main skill set of major ad agencies.
They have the creative ability to entertain, and many of the advertisements they create become part of pop culture lore. Visigoths are trying to find new jobs from milk mustaches to athletes’ sweat glands dripping with an action beverage — creative images abound.
Agencies tout their creative prowess and bandy about phrases like “break-through advertising,” “creative firepower,” and “award-winning creative development.”
The special effects, high-intensity soundtracks, and high-priced talent have made commercial production the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Many of the commercials are better at entertaining than the programs they sponsor. Some of it is funny stuff.
It certainly gets your attention. They make you temporarily stop what you are doing and look up. In an age of advertising creativity, the ability to entertain has never been higher. But is it persuasive branding?
Persuasion (not always reflected in market segmentation)
The third and most important discipline is PERSUASION, and we give it a C-. In general. Many receive a flat-out F.
So much advertising now is simply an entertaining skit with either no point or promoting a table stake. It is as if the market struggles only to influence customers who have decided to switch brands independently. However, the largest segment (as identified by market segmentation) is the pool of customers rooted in the status quo.
Stealing share means grabbing market share from your competitor’s brand camp and making them your own, prompting consumers to change and not just waiting for them to change. Persuasive Branding is the critical key.
To be persuasive, a selling argument needs to engage both the left and right brain. It needs to build a level of intimacy with the customers to see themselves in the brand message to visualize themselves as part of the brand. Market segmentation can help refine this.
It needs to reach out and build empathy so that the brand message is received sympathetically and not as a broad challenge.
It needs to represent current beliefs in the target market yet not seem so trendy to be dismissed.
How many commercials do you see?
Think about the number of commercials you have seen in the past year that is so remarkably entertaining that you repeat the storyline to a friend at the office coffee pot only to struggle to recall anything other than the punchline.
Such a commercial is memorable. But if you can’t even remember the brand, it can’t be considered persuasive.
Today, everyone seems to want to produce hip and humorous advertising—the funnier and more absurd, the better.
The problem with this tactic is that humor has a short shelf life. The joke may be more memorable than the message. Ad agencies love humor because it wins awards, clients love it because it makes them feel progressive, and customers, well, they love it too for entertainment. But not for the reason it is intended.
To be effective, commercials must use persuasive branding messaging derived from the target audience. Otherwise, you are spending money on a skit to get a consumer to choose you.
Brand as an afterthought — The key to persuasive branding
You can ensure that your advertising messages are working as hard as possible to ensure that your brand definition has been created in a mode to be all about persuasive branding.
The brand is often a theoretical afterthought considered by the agency in a single line entitled “Desired Brand Image.”
Your ability to persuade new customers is locked into your brand permissions and highlighted by market segmentation.
Businesses know their profits are determined at the signing of the sales contract. In persuasive branding, your ability to persuade is determined when your brand charter is created. The permissions that arise from this brand charter determine the nature of your advertising and the delivery of the promise of that brand.
The advertising is the suit of clothing, and the brand is the body it covers.
Wearing clothing that does not suit the body makes it seem uncomfortable, awkward, and ill at ease.
Almost all advertising works to some degree and is better than the absence of advertising. Having a voice in the market will deliver some results because being considered requires being known. However, this is very different from being preferred and coveted as a brand.
Changing ad agencies usually brings a bump in sales, not because you have made a great choice in the new agency. But because changes in your advertising messages stir attention.
Choosing an old-school branding company without the skills of persuasive branding is playing in the past.
Keep your brand consistent and persuasive branding as your goal and keep your advertising fresh. Keep your market segmentation finely tuned.
Wear a new suit of clothes to work and your colleagues will comment because a change from the expected is worthy of note.
Wear a new clothing style to work, not in keeping with the person they have already come to know, and they will also comment. But the most telling comments are whispered behind your back.