It takes place at the intersection of what the consumer most critically desires and what the brand most uniquely delivers. If we can figure out and line up these two things, then success explodes outward from there. 

Celebrated brands understand this. Athletes of all kinds critically desire to achieve their absolute highest performance. Nike uniquely delivers products, services, and encouragement to help them reach peak performance. Teenage boys critically desire to hook up with girls. Lynx uniquely delivers products, pheromones, and confidence to help boys score. The whole world critically desires to express its creativity. Apple uniquely delivers products, technology, and inspiration to unleash that creativity. 

This may sound easy, but like everything in life, it takes massive, torturous amounts of work, and tenacious stamina to make it look easy. Oftentimes, we feel confident about what the consumer desires but we lack the unique offering that specifically nails that desire. Other times, we have a very unique brand offering that just doesn’t fulfill the critical consumer desire. In either case, we fail. Because one or the other is no good. You need both.

What the consumer most dramatically desires is all about insight

From my experience, the deepest insights are the ones people won’t articulate out loud. Most human beings feel uncomfortable in a research setting, so it makes them guarded; hesitant to divulge what they truly believe. So you must listen, read between the lines, and sum up what they’re “really” saying.

Here’s an example. When I worked on the AARP account, we wanted to increase relevance among 50-65-year-olds. They do quite well with 65+. The problem: when the product arrives, 50-somethings scream with horror and throw it into the garbage unopened. Quite the challenge. When we spoke to the target, they said things like “that’s for old people…I’m not old”. It was all about age. After digging deeper, we realized the issue wasn’t just age. People understand they get older, and a lot of times they’re happy with some of the things age brings – wisdom, experience, etc. The real issue is, as they age, they feel that life offers them fewer possibilities. But no one wants to admit that out loud. What they critically desire is someone to come along and offer them new and wonderful possibilities.

What the brand most uniquely delivers must be authentically you and decisively single-minded

You must find the authentic appeal your brand possesses, then make that interesting to a lot more people. Take what people love (loyalists are a good place to start) and make it ripple out to thousands or millions more. That takes one part authentic brand truth, the actual benefit you supply, and another part copywriting, putting it into a nice tight, single-minded thought that is worded as uniquely as possible.

Picking back up on the AARP example, once we realized what they critically desired was possibilities, we looked at what the brand could offer. If we could become a source of endless possibility, we could slowly start to become relevant. So we crafted the words “An Ally for Real Possibility” – no one can uniquely deliver this promise better than AARP. It’s exactly why the brand exists, to be an advocate, to supply tons of useful information and possibilities for work, money, and community. The phrase also happens to be a new acronym for AARP, which makes it totally ownable to the brand.

We had our magical intersection of what the consumer most critically desired, and what the brand most uniquely delivered. Let the branding begin.

Cover image source: Egor Myznik