Engineering Your Brand

Why your brand should be based on scientific research.

Most marketing companies preach the importance of brands to their clients. The problem is that few go beyond trying to solve the problem outside the tools of design and business school.

This leaves us with archaic methods developed over a century ago. Ignoring the most important aspects of big data analysis and personalized engagements. For that, we need the tools of an engineer.

Engineers create systems based on scientific research. In the case of a brand, discoveries from computer science, psychology, and data science are needed. It is from these disciplines that the rigorous pursuit of personalized, emotional experiences are realized.

Companies regularly deploy diverse teams for product development leaving the brand to a small group of specialists. This often results in products that are greater than the brand behind them. The problem is that a weak brand with a strong product can be fatal.

For example, before Apple introduced the iPhone, Nokia was the largest manufacturer of mobile devices. While Apple had a better product experience, that was not what killed Nokia. Many other companies with great products tried and failed to unseat the giant before the iPhone.

The difference-maker was Apple’s strong brand. A much-loved technology brand vs one most felt no connection with. In fact, Apple’s brand is engineered much like their products. So much so that the two are synonymous with each other. Resulting in the customer simultaneously falling in love with both.

Apple has perfected the emotional connection with its customer base. Differentiating themselves from competitors so much that it’s Apple vs all other companies. One may ask, “Are you getting an Apple or Android phone?” Or, “Do you like Mac or Windows?” Not Dell, HP, or some other Windows computer brand.

What they are really asking is do you want an Apple product or one of their almost nameless competitors. A clear illustration of a strong brand. One that is an engineered system encompassing product, design, message, and support.

Viewing the brand as a system is the first step to becoming a market leader. A strong brand connects with customers on an emotional level. This means it encompasses all aspects of a company from product design to the customer service policies. It is far more than just a logo.

Actually, the imagery associated with the logo is just a symbol of everything else. A way to remind customers of the core message and personality of the company. The last step in the branding process.

Before the logo is even sketched, the larger issue of the Value Proposition must be addressed. This is the first step after fully understanding the target market. Here the values of the company are detailed to align with the values of the customer.

The Value Proposition is then used to design each customer touchpoint. Be it support staff training, website experience, store layout, etc. This is how each point of contact is designed to best trigger an emotional response from the customer. It answers what do I value and captures how to best convey this to the world.

Without a multidisciplinary system engineering approach, a brand will be at best mediocre. Because it will fail to trigger emotion across all channels. The only way for a brand to become great is to build it in the same disciplined manner as a product. Combining the strengths of creatives with data science, software engineering, and psychology to deploy a brand most likely to succeed.

Much like product development, creating a strong brand is an ongoing process. One that requires rigorous measures of effectiveness to ensure relevancy in an evolving market. The best tool for this is the Scientific Method.

Science requires systematic testing and formal review before a hypothesis can be considered. The same should be true for brands. Sadly, many companies base brand decisions on correlations. Instead of careful research into the underlying causation.

For instance, consider a company discovering an 80% increase in referrals from those customers who support Public Radio. Using this correlation the company could decide to sponsor Public Radio programming for a quick boost in brand engagement. However, further analysis reveals that could be a bad idea.

The cause in this instance has little to do with Public Radio and everything to do with a shared love for a specific personality on the radio. It turns out most do not even listen to the show. Instead, these supporters have a shared value of giving back to the community, each being from the same region as the personality they support. In turn, such supporters are most likely to foster a connection with a brand that also supports their community, regardless of that company sponsoring Public Radio.

In conclusion, an engineered brand is a system comprised of product, design, message, and support. It is based on an accurate analysis of the customer and designed to effectively align with their values. Communicating a consistent message in the best channels possible. Having the foundation of a multi-disciplined scientific process. All developed to skyrocket growth.

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