All marketing begins with “who?” But believe it or not, when it comes to building your brand, that “who” isn’t just you.
The brands that are the most successful are those that make a deep emotional connection to their constituencies. The ones who connect who they are to who their targets want—or need—them to be (and whose connection is stronger than their competitors’).
Who are your targets? What are their pain points? Their motivations? The drivers that will inspire them to take the action you seek? And how does what you do/offer/sell satisfy your targets’ needs and desires better than the competition does?
Don’t know? Many brands (initially) don’t.
Every solid branding or rebranding strategy begins with research. You need to do a deeper dive into the three “whos” that go into building (or rebuilding) a successful brand: your targets, your company or organization, and your competition.
All three come together to form your brand platform. Let’s take a look at each—and how we put our approach to work for PM Pediatrics, a kids-only urgent care, and long-time Austin Williams’ client.
This is by far the most important part of the equation. Understanding your customers’ and prospects’ needs, desires and motivators—and their perceptions (if any) of how well your brand and your competitors address each—is critical. That’s why every branding or rebranding engagement we undertake begins with an in-depth discovery that includes primary and secondary market research.
In the case of PM Pediatrics, we conducted both primary and secondary research to understand the potential appeal of the practice’s breakthrough pediatric urgent care model to parents. The resulting insight was clear, compelling (and not surprising to those of us with children): parents (and their children) were fearful of going to an ER for a medical emergency when their regular pediatrician was closed.
During the discovery phase, it’s also vital to get to the heart of your brand essence and core ideals—what your brand stands for. Think of this as your brand DNA: What makes you, you—and how that differentiates you from others in your competitive space. And our experience shows, there’s always something that sets a brand apart; the key is finding that “nugget” and making sure it’s relevant to your targets.
For PM Pediatrics, their brand truth was readily apparent—and baked right into their business model: They were the first urgent care designed specifically for patients from cradle through college. They had all the “ingredients”—state-of-the-art, kid-focused facilities staffed by specially trained physicians who were available when a child’s regular pediatrician wasn’t.
More often than not, we initially see brands floating in a “sea of same.” They and their business rivals look the same, sound the same, act the same. Identifying those category conventions—so we can disrupt them—is the goal of our competitive research. To stand out, especially in a super-tight market, requires finding that white space opportunity that exists and making it your brand’s alone.
PM Pediatrics’ differentiator wasn’t hard to find. But as more urgent care practices offering pediatric services entered their market, we needed to work harder to make sure they stood out as the only one parents trust and pediatricians recommend. We successfully achieved this through their brand positioning.
The nexus of the three facets—the target insight, brand truth, and competitive differentiation—your brand platform or positioning is the singular idea upon which you can build (or rebuild) your brand. This platform informs every aspect of your marketing, from your logo and tagline to your creative assets and media strategy. Every customer touchpoint, whether it’s online, in print, on television or in person, must consistently deliver on, and strengthen your brand platform.
For PM Pediatrics, the brand platform we landed on is: Your family’s pediatric urgent care hero. We brought it to life with (you guessed it), superhero brand icon Captain PM and tagline, “the super urgent care just for kids.” This combination resonated with their patients—and importantly, their parent decision-makers—and helped the urgent care practice become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the nation.
Because when you make that connection to your consumer (the most important who in this equation), you can build (or rebuild) a brand that successfully stands out among your competitors— and stands the test of time.