I resolve to create irrational brand loyalty at every stage of the funnel.

Apple Products

The best brands in the world create a condition of irrational loyalty. When your customers consider using a competitor’s brand—but ultimately feel like they’re cheating on yours—THAT’S irrational loyalty.

Strong brands help their customers solve problems, present a positive image to the world, feel empowered, accomplished and that they are the hero in their own personal stories. Think about what happens when you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world and everything is working out the way you hoped it would. No matter which cliché you use to describe it—the feeling of having wind in your sails or the world on a string—that feeling connects deeply with your emotions.

Here’s a great video where Sol’s CEO, Deb Gabor, describes how top brands create conditions of irrational loyalty.

As you can see from this video, we know what we’re talking about. We’re experts in branding and we’d love to help you create irrational loyalty. Reach out to us below.

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I resolve to write how my brand would speak.

Write

It’s important to understand and articulate your brand voice. This not only draws in customers but will also draw in the right employees who embody that same voice. That way, your customers will experience consistency in their interactions with your company. So, how do you find your brand voice? Here are some steps to follow:

1) Articulate your brand values.

What does your brand stand for? This is important to define as everything builds from here, especially your brand voice.  Once you understand your brand values, you can more easily articulate them through your brand messaging and your interactions with customers.

2) If your brand was a person, what would they sound like?

What’s your brand persona? You already discovered your brand archetype, now take it a step further and think of different personas. Is your brand young, old, wise, carefree, funny, reserved? The best brands in the world know who they are, what they stand for and even what they sound like. It’s much easier to write how people think when you know who you are and can envision who your customers are as well.

3) Be consistent.

This is very important. Every single person your customers interact with at your company must embody the same voice or they will experience a disjointed or inauthentic experience. All of your brand communications should use the same voice and tone as well. You should have a brand book and describe your voice so that everyone in the company is aware. Nothing kills a good brand faster than an inconsistent customer experience. Guard this one carefully.

Writing in your brand voice can take practice. We have experts on staff that can help. Reach out below.

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I resolve to be authentic in my brand communications.

Marketing

The Journal of Consumer Psychology defines brand authenticity as “The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves.”

How can you ensure you’re being authentic in your brand communications? It’s important that your brand communications are aligned with your brand values. These values are your company’s DNA and must be incorporated in every interaction. Build authenticity in your brand communications by following these steps. Save this to your computer and use whenever you work on your marketing efforts.

Be Authentic _ Sol Marketing

Every time you have the opportunity to communicate with your customer base, ensure you’re staying true to your brand. We can help with that. Email us below.

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I resolve to create more interactive content.

Interactive content

Interactive content is hot right now and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Since it’s interactive, it requires the users to spend a longer time with the content, and to actually engage with it (which is really important!). So what are the best types of interactive content? We share three of our favorites below.

1. Interactive Infographics

Infographics are one of the top shareable pieces of content. Why? Because it’s an informative and easily digestible way to invite your audience to participate with your content. Interactive infographics elevate good content and make it much better by introducing graphics to tell a more engaging and memorable story.

Interactive Infographic

A great example of an interactive infographic is The Daily Routines of Creative Famous People. Audiences interact with the infographic by clicking on the button “Sleep” for example, and the infographic shows the times of day that each creative famous person spends sleeping. This type of content is more fun and engaging than reading text or viewing an image, and it makes an immediate impact in a big way.

2. Polls and Surveys

Polls and surveys are a great market research tool. You can ask your audience specific information to learn more about them. For example, you can create a Facebook poll asking your audience what time of day do they spend the most time online. Then, you can target your marketing communications to share only during that specific time period. It’s a win-win because your audience gets the opportunity to voice their opinion, and you get to show your audience that their opinion matters.

Airbnb Customer Feedabck

Airbnb does a great job of using surveys to generate customer feedback. The customer has an opportunity to have their opinions heard and Airbnb can become a better service by finding out what works and what doesn’t.

3. Interactive Video

As we discussed in our previous post, video is huge right now. And interactive video takes it to the next level. With interactive video, your audience is asked to engage with content by responding to various cues and features. You can put the audience in control of the outcomes they’ll view or what they’ll learn as a result of watching. You can tailor the content for different audiences, generate leads and learn more about your audience. It’s fun and incredibly shareable.

Interactive Video

A great use of interactive video is Will You Fit into Deloitte? The video is geared toward people who want work at Deloitte. It’s created from the first-person point-of-view, which only heightens the the feeling of interaction as one makes their way through their video journey and encounters different things and chooses how to handle them. This experience gives a potential employee an idea of Deloitte’s core values and how they match them to have a better idea if Deloitte is really the right place for them! And, it gives the employer a personal way to connect with recruits, while also giving potential applicants a way to self-select out of the process if it’s not a good fit. Win-win.

We’re experts in content creation and have built incredible pieces of content for our clients. You could be next…reach out below!

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I resolve to create a video this year.

YouTube Video

Incorporating video into your marketing strategy is essential for the success of your campaign. Did you know that 85% of internet audiences in the U.S. watch videos online? That’s a huge number! Additionally, 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Marketers that use video grow their revenue 49% faster than non-video users. These stats show how important video is and what a huge impact it can make on your audience and your bottom line. If that’s not reason enough to add video content to your marketing strategy this year, then we don’t know what is!

To get you started, we’ve shared 4 different types of videos you can incorporate into your marketing plan.

1. Go BTS (behind the scenes)

Give your followers a backstage pass to your space. Show your audience the faces behind your brand. Consumers want to connect with brands on a personal level and see the human behind the business. Who works there? What is the office environment like? Show us.

2. Create a post-event video.

Talk about engagement! Creating a post-event video that showcases attendees enjoying your event is a great way to increase engagement. Social video generates 1,200% (nope, that’s not a typo!) more shares than text and images combined. Include video as a part of your overall event strategy to boost your social engagement.

3. Influence Action.

Video is a great tool to encourage your audience to take action. You can touch someone through video and elicit emotions in a way that text and images cannot. For example, sharing a video during Giving Tuesday that shows how donations impact others is a great way to encourage your audience to donate. Storytelling through video is a powerful tool. Since video has more shares than text or images, your message will spread faster and the overall impact will be larger.

4. Make a tutorial.

A great example of a company doing this well is Tasty. Tasty’s Facebook videos have averaged 22.8 million views in their first 30 days alone. If you aren’t familiar with Tasty, they create video cooking tutorials that are made for social media. These tutorials are fun to watch and beneficial for both the audience and the company. The company is showing their audience the steps to create one of their tasty recipes. This is great shareable content. Think of a tutorial you can make to help your audience. Start by asking them questions to find out what they need to learn more about.

Video is so important to your marketing strategy. We love helping clients create video content, and we’d love to help you! Reach out below.

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I resolve to answer these three brand swagger questions.

Swagger

Now that you’ve completed your brand values pyramid, the next step is to answer these three brand swagger questions. These questions can be difficult to get to the bottom of, but once you understand them, they allow your brand’s strategy to flow naturally.

1. What does it say about a person (a customer, a user) that he or she uses/wears/drinks/eats/lives your brand?

The answer to this question lies in how your product/brand addresses someone's core values and beliefs.

2. What makes your brand indispensable? 

What is the singular benefit he/she gets from using your product or brand that they can't get ANYWHERE else?  The answer to this question is NEVER about the product – the speeds/feeds or the "ities" (reliability, adaptability scalability, manageability, etc-ability.)  The answer to this question gets to the true differentiation of your product and the root of the emotional relationship people have with you and your brand.

3. How do you make your customer a HERO in his/her own story? 

Everyone has a story.  How does your brand play into the customers' own stories?

All of these answers will lead you to discover how your brand gives a person that sexy swagger that makes them swoon.

Need helping answer these three important questions? We’ve got your back.

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I resolve to use email strategically…even in the busy season.

Email

It appears more often than not, brands get an urge to over-email when the busy season hits (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) We’ve all experienced our inboxes fill up quickly around this time. But sending too many emails can lead to the one message you don’t want to see: unsubscribe.

I explained in a detailed blog post last year, that I’m an email lover, but one of my favorite brands over-emailed me to the point where I chose to unsubscribe. Yes. I unsubscribed from a brand I LOVE because they sent too many emails.

So, I want to reiterate the importance of using email strategically (even during the busy seasons). Save this image to your desktop so that before you hit send on any email, you answer these questions:

Email Questions

I’ve found more often than not, these two questions are a good guide when the urge to over-email is high.

Make sure you have an email marketing plan in place this new year. Reach out to us, we’d love to help you create the perfect content strategy.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] I resolve to figure out my brand archetype.

Brand Archetype

We all want a loyal following. We’re constantly looking for that magical marketing plan that will connect us to our audience and make our product an irreplaceable part of their life. What we don’t often realize is that connections are relationships. If we aren’t clear about who we are, no one is going to be interested in dating us.

The short version is this: There are 12 basic identities—or archetypes—a brand can assume. Check out our infographic below, that describes each archetype in detail and then discover which archetype your brand is.

Brand Archetype

We love helping clients discover their brand archetype so they can continue to create a loyal following. If you’d like our help, submit your email below.

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I resolve to complete my brand values pyramid.

Brand Values Pyramid

If you think back to Psychology 101 class in college, you probably remember studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow shaped his hierarchy like a pyramid, with the most basic human needs—food, water, shelter, air—at the base and loftier, more emotional needs at the top. The theory is that all humans must first solve for the lower levels of the pyramid before moving to the upper levels. Once a person is no longer worried about finding food and water, he or she can move up to solve the problem of safety. Once that person figures out safety, he or she can move up to love, and so on.

Just as Maslow’s hierarchy explains human motivation, the brand values pyramid illustrates the idea that when a person makes a decision to purchase or use a brand, they’re motivated to achieve certain needs. After fulfilling one need, a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on.

As customers move up the pyramid, brands must meet more of their customers’ emotional needs, and as those emotional needs are met by more and more companies, the best brands must support customers’ process of becoming self-actualized.

We’ll walk you through the steps to complete your brand values pyramid below.

1. Discover your brand’s baseline requirements.

In Maslow’s pyramid the basic requirements are food, water, shelter, air, and so on. You need to discover your brand’s baseline requirements. For example, let’s look at cars. The baseline requirements are wheels, an engine, and a steering wheel, as well as seats, mirrors, windows and the basic functional benefit of getting you from point A to point B.

All cars must meet these baseline requirements and deliver these functional benefits, or today’s market of car buyers will not take them seriously.

2. Identify your brand’s emotional requirements.

The next levels up in Maslow’s hierarchy are safety, belonging, affiliation and esteem needs. These are the benefits that make you feel like you’re part of a group and protected.

In the brand values pyramid, these middle tiers describe how certain features make the consumer feel. In car talk, these are the options. In branding, we refer to them as emotional benefits. Emotional benefits can provide a competitive advantage, but they are not your brand.

The options packaged in the middle of the pyramid for today’s cars are things such as Bluetooth, voice-activated navigation, heated seats, self-darkening mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps and a variety of other cool things.

Not every model of car in a category offers those features, so they’re still somewhat differentiating and can command a premium purchase price. However, these features are easy for other brands to imitate, so they don’t define the brand and certainly aren’t sustainable long-term brand differentiators.

Like the functional benefits we discussed before, emotional benefits alone will never be enough to create and sustain a brand. As today’s options become tomorrow’s standard equipment, these emotional benefits aren’t enough to differentiate your brand.

3. Uncover your brand’s self-expressive benefits.

Self-expressive benefits—the stuff at the top of the brand values pyramid—enable customers to complete the statement, “When I eat/drink/drive/wear/use this brand, I am___.”

This is where brands become transcendent, symbolizing their customers’ self-concept and giving consumers a vehicle to express themselves.

When brands provide self-expressive benefits to their users, they can engender deep emotional connections. For example, consider the difference between the self-expressive benefits associated with Heineken beer, which may heighten a person’s self-concept of being a sophisticated, discerning, worldly person, with those of Budweiser.

The most powerful brands are the ones that say something about their user. The key to successful branding is to make self-expressive benefits part of the brand value proposition to add richness and depth to the brand and the experience of owning and using the brand.

We know this can seem intimidating. Feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to help you through it…it’s kind of our thing.

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I resolve to find my ideal customer and start speaking their language.

Your Ideal Customer

Your brand is not about you, your brand is about your customers...and not just any customer, your ideal customer. It’s so important for you to discover who your ideal customer is and start speaking to them.

We’ve outlined some steps below to help you get started.

1. Identify who your ideal customer is.

Your ideal customer is the customer who is most highly predictive of your brand's success. The person who will bring in the most amount of revenue over time because he or she has so strongly bought-in to your brand experience.

To identify your ideal customer, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who will keep buying from us again and again?

  • Who will become our brand champion?

  • Who will express irrational brand loyalty?

  • Who will submit positive reviews?

2. Create your ideal customer profile. 

Now take it a bit further. Close your eyes and conjure up a vivid image of who the perfect person is to buy your brand. Who are they? How old are they? Are they male or female? Married or single? What is their income? Conjure up an image of who that person is, and write down everything you can think of. Once you’ve written down everything you can think of, dig deeper.

Continue to go through the process of envisioning who this person is and what their life looks like. Write it all down. Even draw a picture of them.

3. Discover your ideal customer’s needs. 

Once you’ve created this ideal customer profile, the next step is to think about that person’s needs. This is the hardest part; this is the part where you have to really dig in.

Understanding your ideal customer in depth enables you to understand what that person needs most from you and your brand. By getting inside the head of your ideal customer, you’re able to extract the story that the customer wants to tell themselves and the world about who they are. Eventually you’ll get a clear image of who your ideal customer is and, ultimately, whom your brand is for.

4. Complete the ideal customer exercise. 

This is great, but how do you actually do it? How do you figure out who your ideal customer is?

We recommend our Ideal Customer Profile Exercise. Ideally this is done in a group brainstorming session with the staff in your company who are most involved in customer-facing roles.

Don’t just invite the top executives! Often it’s your salespeople, customer service reps, returns processors and delivery drivers who are closest to the customers. They actually know more about your customers than your marketing team ever could.

What I’d recommend is bringing a group together with a big roll of butcher paper and dividing up into smaller groups to answer the following questions:

  • Who is our ideal customer?

  • What does their average day look like?

  • What are the needs they’re looking to fulfill?

5. Outline marketing strategies for your ideal customer.

Once you’ve discovered exactly who your ideal customer is, the next step is to create marketing strategies to gain the interest of this customer. Everything you do in your marketing should always focus on your ideal customer, because they are your target audience.

We love helping clients figure out their ideal customers and “ah-ha’s” about them. Feel free to reach out below, we'd love to help you as well.

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