The other day I got some butter from the supermarket in Zug, Switzerland. Interesting story, I know, but bear with me here. The reason I am writing about this today is that this was no normal butter. It was branded ‘Heidi’ in a beautifully folded paper wrapper, adorned with scenes of the Swiss hills.
The package was twice as expensive as some of the other choices, but here was something special that conformed with my idea of Switzerland. When I got home, I opened the butter and saw a beautifully crafted stick of butter with the logo carved in and shaped edges. I was sold once again, never mind that the butter itself was just, ehm, butter.
You see, the idea of something and the feeling you have with a brand, is often more important than the something itself. We want to have experiences with companies that conform with our idea of the world, and our idea of ourselves. For financial services, most of the larger banks seem to understand this.
The recent campaign from UBS that I am sure you saw is an example of one of those campaigns that tries to create a connection. A connection with your idea of the world and how you see yourself. Have we seen campaigns like this in the brokerage space? Not really. Brokers are focused on getting in demo and live accounts with their ads, not shaping their brand perception.
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The reason you want to create a brand image in the mind of your target audience is simple. When you create that connection, it makes everything else easier. When someone you know to have the same view of the world, someone that speaks to who you want to be, asks you to become a customer at the time you are considering becoming a customer somewhere, you will go with them. If it was a stranger, screaming to you about spreads and bonuses, you’d think twice. Sure, it works some of the time, but it’s harder.
So when someone in the target audience gets asked “what does Brand X stand for?”, what do you want them to say about you in a sentence? Is it that you are the cheapest? The most helpful? The most advanced? Figure out who you want to be as a company, what your target audience thinks of you, your competitors, the industry and their role in it.
Make sure your company lives those values, that everything from the banner ad to the receptionist screams that brand position. That your creative design is instantly recognizable as being your brand and brand values. And then come up with a brand advertising campaign, not before.
Our advice regarding advertising to our customers, is to run baseline, acquisition focused campaigns on an ongoing basis, while layering on top ad hoc but consistent brand campaigns. The brand campaigns need to run with media that conform with the brand image and target audience you want to achieve.
So if you want to be considered cheap, better not advertise on Forbes.com. If you want to be trustworthy, perhaps think twice before appearing on downmarket sites. And if you want to be a natural, local Swiss butter, put Heidi on the cover.