Five ways to encourage brand success through attitude
By Dan Ratner
Today’s commoditised marketplace is awash with products that may come from different manufacturers, but often they provide the same function and are of similar quality. When so many products from different brands are essentially the same, how does a brand differentiate itself from the competition?
Dan Ratner, managing director of uberbrand said, “Sometimes brand success isn’t about product at all, it’s about attitude. A brand isn’t just a product or service. It is the sum of everything your customers think about you. Marketers need to tap into their customers’ lifestyle preferences to build long-term relationships with them.”
Define your customers through their attitudes and ideals
Customers don’t necessarily buy a product for its features; they buy it for how it makes them feel. In order to maintain loyalty and attract new customers you must understand the drivers to purchase. These include the desire to appear a certain way, such as fashionable, alternative or wealthy.
People rarely purchase a sports car just because it can go fast and has brilliant handling. Most buyers will never have the opportunity to fully experience the true depth of those features. Rather, buying a sports car is about displaying wealth and success and being part of an exclusive club of likeminded people (other sports car owners). Once you know how your customers want to feel about themselves, you can build your marketing campaigns around these ideals.
Give your brand ‘attitude’
Some of the world’s strongest brands never even show their product. For example, brands like STA Travel market adventures and experiences, not airline tickets. Sol Cerveza markets itself as ‘the taste of freedom’. In doing so Sol has identified what matters to its target market – fun and freedom – and created an attitude that matches.
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Use your customer definition to build a brand attitude that they will identify with. Think about where they are going, what kind of jobs they might have and their political attitudes. Then think about how your marketing campaign can reflect these. Whatever your product or service, it is easier to attract customers when they can see themselves reflected in your distinctive brand ‘attitude’.
Shift away from feature-based marketing
Smart phones all offer similar functionality; meaning brands are now fighting a loyalty battle. Although they continue to innovate and add new features, these are quickly copied. In response, some providers have made a clear shift away from marketing product features to marketing a lifestyle. The queues outside Apple stores when new products are launched (even when there is little difference to the previous version) is evidence of the power of creating an attitude towards the brand that makes people feel they must have the latest model.
Let go of internal agendas and keep perspective
Sometimes when you are involved in developing a product from the beginning, it can be hard to maintain perspective but it is important to let go of internal agendas. Developing the latest cereal in your range for example, might be the biggest thing in the company for some time, but it is really not an important part of most people’s day. The key here is to focus on who your customer is for that product and how that product fits into and reflects their lifestyle – both real and aspirational.
Be careful not to go too far
It is easy to lose credibility, so be realistic with your brand. A brand attitude must be built up in consumers’ minds.
In 2012, car manufacturer Mazda used the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax as a brand tie-in to market its SUV, even going so far as to mention that the vehicle had the (obviously fictional) ‘truffula tree seal of approval’. While the brand was attempting to tap into a currently-popular film, the disconnect was so obvious that the campaign backfired spectacularly, resulting in brand damage for Mazda.
Dan Ratner said, “There is a fine balance to be struck between creating a brand attitude and appearing insincere. Marketers must really get under the skin of their customers to determine who they are and how they want to feel. Once they understand this, they can create marketing campaigns that are highly targeted and will ultimately bring on board more loyal customers.”
Visit uberbrand’s website here.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.