Red Oil Project

The Brand Gap

Here’s something I’ve observed in years of doing market research associated with brand strategy projects: Companies’ customers often have lukewarm, less-than-motivating, not-too-compelling beliefs about them. I often hear things like:

“They’re pretty good.”
“They are one of the vendors we use.”
“We’ve never had any problems with them.”

If you consider the graphic above, it’s easy to see that these kinds of beliefs are not motivating customers to act in ways that maximize results.

Imagine if customers had clear, compelling, motivating, differentiating beliefs about your company and its offerings. Imagine if these beliefs compelled them to act in ways that drove your results, by motivating them to buy more, pay more, refer more and be loyal to you. How much more successful would your company be?

Your branding goal is to close The Brand Gap, shortening the distance between your customers’ current beliefs and the powerful, compelling beliefs you would like them to have.

Closing the Brand Gap

The first step to closing your brand gap is to understand what customers believe about you today. My experience is that most executives do not know, with adequate detail, what their customers believe about them.

In fact, I have yet to work with an executive team who didn’t discover new, interesting, important information after researching what their customers currently believe. When you hear your customers talk, freely and without leading questions, you gain insights into how they think, what they care about, and what frames of reference they use to evaluate you.

The next step, once you know what your customers believe about you, is to identify what you’d like them to believe. We refer to these aspirational beliefs as “desired brand impressions.” As an exercise, I encourage you to write desired brand impressions for your customers. As you do this, seek to answer the key branding question I posed at the beginning of this article:

“What do we want our customers to believe about us that, if they believed it, they would do the things we want them to do?”

Answering this key question is at the heart of any brand strategy development project. And if you do it well, your brand strategy will help customers develop beliefs that encourage them to act in ways that drive your results.

The final step to closing the Brand Gap is to ensure that every interaction your customers have with your organization contributes to creating the clear, compelling, motivating beliefs you want your customers to have. The steps you take to close your company’s Brand Gap will help you capitalize on the connection between your customers’ beliefs and your business success.

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