There is a difference between branding and being a brand.
Branding focuses on the grand gesture. The big ad campaign with major media impressions. The breakthrough product innovation. The viral marketing event.
Those things capture top-of-mind awareness for a short period of time. But in today’s noisy marketplace that awareness is quickly displaced by the next big thing.
Being top-of-mind is an expensive and inefficient branding goal. You have to keep finding new ways to interrupt people to stay there. But more importantly, gaining brand recognition does not make people care.
And you need for them to care.
What people care about is how you make them feel. When your brand experience makes them feel important, part of a higher purpose and in sync with what matters to them, you shift from ‘doing’ branding to being a brand. It is the difference between top-of-mind recognition and close-to-heart significance.
The path to getting close-to-heart is to be authentically helpful. That happens in micro-moments, not a master stroke.
How you create moments of helpfulness
A helpful business puts people first by being the best resource for solving their problems and answering their questions, and by giving away relevant value that ultimately results in creating goodwill and loyal customers.
Moments of helpfulness are more than what happens with customer service or customer support. They are in the nitty-gritty details of every interaction with your business.
Helpful marketing content is an example. RevZilla is an online retailer of motorcycle gear and accessories that has scaled its high-end customer shopping experience with video content. Its 200,000-subscriber YouTube channel is a venue for delivering explainer videos that also review the pros and cons of each product. It gives customers the helpful product information they would get in a one-to-one conversation with a sales consultant.
How products are designed is another way brands create moments of helpfulness. Zameer Kassam is a fine jewelry designer who helps customers achieve their goal of buying a unique and personal engagement ring.
Instead of creating standard designs and then looking for customers to sell them to, he creates one-of-a-kind designs that tell the love story of each customer. Instead of making customers come to a physical store, he goes to them. Kassam’s business model helps customers get something they want: a personal and meaningful experience.
Helpfulness is in the details. Attention to helpful details is a marker of your brand character and culture. It shows you care about what is important to people and you are dedicated to serving their need in the critical moments. Helpfulness builds relationships in real time.