Why You Should Brand Your Business Slow & Mindfully
The slow movement is nothing new and its do it well instead of fast philosophy has permeated dozens of industries from food and fashion to education and travel.
However, if you Google “slow branding” or even “slow marketing”, the meager, outdated results make it clear that the application of the concept to these critical business functions never got the same traction.
Under pressure from investors, boards, competitors, and the media, brands are in a mad dash to make money, drive traffic, and get social followers but have forgotten the art of cultivating a loving and loyal community.
From MVP to growth hacking to going viral, the tools and terminology we use to build businesses are all about scaling quick and garnering celebrity status. As a result, half-baked, low-quality products are rapidly released into markets already oversaturated with subpar offerings.
Customer relationships are fickle and unreliable and measured by the number of Instagram likes instead of the impact on quality of life. The idea of iconic brands that have legacy and longevity seems almost obsolete given the number of one-hit startup wonders. A media darling gushed over in Fast Company last year may not even exist this year, and no one cares because no one remembers.
I’m not advocating moving at a glacial pace but at an appropriate speed. Trade in vanity metrics and get rich quick schemes in the short-term in order to build a brand that you and your consumers will fall in love with over the long-term. Instead of just tactics and transactions, create solid strategies and enjoy the process of creating and crafting vs. just fixating on end goals.
Don’t be afraid to take the time to think, get theoretical, and have intellectually-stimulating discussions about your brand.
My slow branding principles are 3-fold: priority, quality, loyalty. Set your priority and spend enough time on it so that it results in a high quality outcome that has the best chance of garnering loyalty.
Having worked for or advised dozens of brands – from startups to iconic Fortune 500s – I've seen that one of the biggest barriers to achieving success is being stretched too thin. Big brands fail when they try to do it all and forget about their relationship with their core audience. Small brands stagger before they even make it on the map, because they start off trying to be everything to everyone.
The most mindful way to approach branding, no matter where you are in your business cycle, is to be focused. Determine your target audience, figure out what matters most to them, and then ruthlessly cut any projects or activities that aren't relevant.
Competition in most lifestyle and consumer categories is stiff. These markets are oversaturated with a plethora of options and sometimes the only way to differentiate your business is via a brand image that is deemed as relevant and reliable.
When you prioritize it enables you to direct your attention to creating highly beneficial products, services, experiences, and content for your target audience. You also put your business in a better position to be agile and responsive to the needs and desires of your audience going forward.
The ultimate goal in all your branding efforts should be to achieve loyalty. Once you establish a strong relationship with your target audience they become committed to and supportive of your brand in ways you can only imagine. However, you can only win (and retain) the hearts of your consumers by being consistent.
Your brand is nothing more than a promise: a promise to be who you say you will be to the audience you claim you serve. My most critical advice is to stay true to your promise.
Nothing guarantees a brand's success. However, being mindful about what you are delivering, and going about your branding activities in a deliberate way, puts you in the best position to benefit from those serendipitous moments that may take your brand from nothing to something.