It is one that potential customers are interested in and present customers are loyal to. Ironically, it was much easier to build an effective brand in the pre-Internet era. Back then, a loyal Holden buyer generally stayed loyal.
The Internet changed all that. The sheer mountains of information available to modern consumers have undermined brand loyalty and made consumers much more picky. It’s like a fellow accustomed to eating hamburgers who is suddenly presented with a smorgasbord of choices. All sorts of exotic foods are laid before him, so he has far less reason to stick with hamburgers.
The Impact of Social Media
Social media has also had the effect of convincing marketing executives that the only way to generate brand loyalty, and get new customers, is to stay in constant communication. Customers and potential customers must be continuously engaged if sales are to be made. This isn’t exactly true. It’s what you have to say to the customer, not how often you say it.
The rapid pace and wide openness of modern communication has created the illusion that the human race is becoming a collective, with everyone having basically the same ideas and needs that slowly change over time. All you need do is determine where the collective is going at any given time and you can effectively market to them. You might even become an opinion leader, if you can get in front of the crowd and look like you are leading them. At least that’s the idea behind a number of internet marketing techniques, like the use of big data and keywords.
Big Data and Digital Marketing
While big data and keywords are useful, they only enable a company to react to the market, not act upon it. And they really aren’t all that great in creating an effective brand. The reason is that we humans are not about to collectivise any time soon. We are tribal and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
What is a tribe? Well, in the modern sense, it is a group of people with shared values. While digital technology has broken down geographic barriers, it has not really changed personal values all that much, at least not yet. People no longer need to be genetically or geographically related to be members of the same tribe. Brand loyalty is created by reflecting the values of your target customers.
In other words, an effective brand is a brand that has been integrated into the value structure of its target consumers. It is a part of their lives as much as your grandpa’s Commodore was a part of his. Creating an effective brand means knowing what your customers think is important, not just in relation to your product but to the world at large, and integrating those values into the way your company operates day to day. That is the way to create and market an effective brand.