Your brand isn’t what you think you are.
What you think doesn’t matter much.
Your brand is what they think you are.
Your brand is defined by the perceptions of two groups of people: brand lovers and brand haters.
Everyone else is irrelevant.
Brand lovers matter most because they drive your profits. They are your loyal fans. They’re the ones who will drive across town to buy from you, or pay extra because of the special service you provide. They tell their friends about you, follow you on Facebook, and generally give a shit about you and your business (which is rare, but really cool). You need to know what these people think and what drives their passion for your brand so that you can build upon it. When you know what drives them, you can do more of that.
Brand haters matter second-most because you have successfully branded yourself to these people, and you need to know why. They hate you and will never be your customers, yet they have a strong opinion about you. When a person dislikes a brand and knows exactly why they dislike that brand, you’ve succeeded in branding. Understanding these people is important. Ideally, they dislike you for some of the same reasons your brand lovers are so attracted to you.
Think of it in musical terms.
Some people, we’ll call them Group A, think the Dave Matthews Band is pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, hipster crap. These are DMB brand haters.
Other people. Group B, think the Dave Matthews Band is smart, intricate, peaceful, and inspiring music. These are DMB brand lovers.
Every time that Dave Matthews records an album that pisses off Group A, his true fans in Group B are thrilled. They will buy more.
Group A is never likely going to buy a Dave Matthews song, no matter what he does. They have deeply formed opinions of him and those opinions are not likely to change. But if Dave wanted to appeal to those people by recording less pretentious pseudo-intellectual music, he would alienate the very people who love him… in an attempt to reach fans who are highly unlikely to ever care.
Common business practice is to attempt to attract people who don’t like you, the brand haters, by changing the very fibre of what makes you attractive to your current brand lovers.
IT NEVER WORKS.
Yet it happens time after time, day after day. And businesses wonder what the hell happened when the customers stop coming.
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PS – I’m in Group B. My wife, however, is solidly in Group A.