What are Your Brand Truths?

What are Your Brand Truths?
Brian McHale
What are Your Brand Truths?

What was the last restaurant you visited? Think about the experience… your initial impressions and feelings. What made you go there? Maybe it was the atmosphere, the menu selection or that first big bite. What comes immediately to mind… good, bad, or maybe just… meh? How do those impressions fit with what you think of the BRAND? Or, did you think about the brand at all?

You’ve just begun to define Brand Truths — what’s most memorable and important to you about a brand. Think about Brand Truths as the sum total of a brand experience — a mirror of the unvarnished and honest customer perspective, shaped by the influence of the brand. What’s really cool about Brand Truths is that they can be good, bad, and indifferent… which sounds contradictory, (but truth can be that way, too). You may see things you didn’t expect bumping against one another. Which usually means you have some deeper digging to do.

An example:

A performance-based brand had a long history in its category, sold very well. But, prioritized its always-on-sale price over basic category expectations. Consumers had nothing substantial to believe in, except $ saved. The one resulting Brand Truth was negative: Cheap. As hard as that realization was, understanding it directed the team’s efforts; a revitalization of the brand strategy, reorganizing the messaging platform and shifting communication hierarchies. Focusing on what made the brand relevant and a good value helped it move beyond negative and into positive (equity building) territory.

Why are Brand Truths needed?

Brand Truths are the connective tissue between customer honesty and the brand. They are bigger and richer than pure insights because they account for the brand side of the equation. In some cases they are a necessary splash of cold water… which can be a good thing… when brands have lost focus or have been talking to themselves for too long. Defining Brand Truths should be a regular part of any brand’s health check. At Brandience, we’ve developed Brand Truths as a tool to sharpen or adjust brand strategy, influence marketing planning and inspire creative output.

Let’s dive a little deeper:

A brand certainly self-defines by how it behaves, what it messages, and the experiences it creates. But as important, a brand is defined by its customers in return. What is true… to them?

A Brand Truth is real if it’s:

  • What matters most. How a brand is most different, or most meaningful. We notice what rises to the top. How customers describe their thoughts. How ideas cluster. We also notice what we DON’T see.
  • What inspires the greatest passion, and most conversation.
  • Cues that are remembered and played back, have become a part of the brand culture, or have been transposed into memes. They could be as simple as a tagline, a jingle, a range of attributes and traits, or full-blown narratives.
  • Positive ideas contribute to a brand’s story and value. Negative may weaken or harm a brand’s value. Or, Indifferent. Which may be the most interesting and riskiest. If customers aren’t able to define a brand, then what will fill the void?

At Brandience, we arrive at Brand Truths through data intel, which could include any number of inputs, from surveys to observational research, third-party data and social ethnography. We filter and apply relevant influences, such as trends, and category norms and of course, the brand factors.

What to do with your newfound knowledge

Brand Truths help us make focused adjustments to long-range strategy, or tactical changes to marketing planning. We are able to more fully celebrate what we own, or reduce the impact of what is negative. Ultimately Brand Truths provide rich, creative territory for ‘true’ and resonant customer experiences.