In a world where consumers are sharing opinions, openly talking about what they like / don’t like about brands and their advertising, how does a brand connect? How do we as marketers ensure that our brand makes that all important fit with our target market and ultimately builds brand loyalty? We need to connect to our target audience’s lifestyle in a way that fits into their natural behaviors. So how do we do this? Here are a few easy steps to maximising and sustaining this connection:

Benefit Led – Rather than just selling a product, brands need to sell benefits. From drinks to clothing to cereal to holidays,consumers are selecting products and services based on how they will in some way or other, be it large or small, improve their way of life. Rather than asking how we are going to beat competitors, brands need to ask how their product can better benefit consumers.

Impression – Every brand makes and leaves an impression with consumers. The obvious goal here is to get this impression right. Ultimately, we as marketers want the consumer to say “I like what this brand has to offer me” so that they will consider our brand (or service) at every opportunity to purchase / use.

Inspire – bring the brand and ultimately the consumer to a new level, make consumers believe. Innocent Smoothies recently built their brand ethos around this with their tag line “Innocent Inspires” bringing social responsibility to the next level. Their advertising campaign “Chain of Good” fortifies this belief with strong messaging inspiring the consumer to buy the product and become loyal customers.

Evolve – Once an impression is made, brands need to ensure that, even if the first impression was positive, they continually keep on top of what is important to consumers and adapt their communications to manage this. Guinness has very successfully managed to stay on top of their game by (nearly) always getting it right. From the humour of the Guinness dance to the more recent wheelchair basketball and Cuban Sapeurs, the impression that is left behind is positive and well liked. Even with the recent Arthur’s day problems, it would seem that Guinness (and ultimately Diagio) were able to reap the awards of the marketing initiative and then pull the plug before receiving too much back lash online for social ‘irresponsibility’.

Be Consistent – Rather than having a single message communicated in a single media, brands need to ensure that their messaging is reinforced across every touchpoint. This includes employees on the front line (whether it is in-store or online / telephone support) to the way head office staff interact with stakeholders, TV advertising and any other communications / events that are hosted by the brand. Not communicating a single message and ‘way of being’ across all channels will confuse the customer by not allowing them to ‘connect the dots’.

So when looking to grow share and/or increase profits consider these steps in the brand planning process which can easily be over-looked. Making these adjustments will strengthen the connection between brand and consumer and ultimately grow brand loyalty which in turn will benefit both share and profits.