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Nowadays, people are beginning to see brands in the same way they see their friends. Fully-developed brands have personalities, interests, and closely-held values. These brand traits either resonate with people or repel them. Just as a person wouldn’t try to make friends with everyone, brands are no longer trying to have universal appeal, opening up an entirely new strategic viewpoint.

A smart company knows itself and knows its appropriate customer, and markets accordingly.

Businesses must ask themselves the following four questions to ensure their brand is defined, and this brand identity comes through in everything they do.

Are We Being Authentic?

This new kind of relationship between brands and customers has opened up a world of opportunity. Companies can let their hair down and stop trying to sound “professional”, while customers can actually enjoy supporting brands they like and trust, while ignoring those they don’t.

The downside? For entrepreneurs and marketers who don’t quite know their brands yet, there can be a tendency toward inauthenticity. This likely doesn’t come from a genuine attempt to deceive customers, but rather from trying too hard to be authentic. Just like in high school when kids are eager to find their identity and fit into a group, new brands can come on too strong without truly understanding who they are. This can lead to customers getting annoyed or feeling a brand is actually phony.

Given this, the question for every brand to answer is:

Are we truly being authentic?

Who Do We Serve?

Brands striving to cultivate a strong identity must know their customers as well as they know themselves. A few general demographics won’t cut it. For example, knowing a brand serves females ages 30-50 is a good start, but plenty of variation exists. What is the more granular detail within this demographic that can really make a difference?

How can a brand better define who they serve? One way is to pay closer attention to the marketing efforts already executed – blogs, social media posts, past events, etc. What elements did customers really latch onto?

What elements seemed to miss the mark, and given this, what needs to be corrected to better address our audience?

Examining these details will start to reveal things like: what matters to those specific customers, what problems they want to solve, what they enjoy most, what they want to learn more about. It’s not simply about knowing the demographics – it’s about knowing the individual, and creating a distinct customer persona that can be marketed to directly.

What Makes Us Remarkable?

In several of his talks, marketing guru Seth Godin mentions “remarkable” brands. He doesn’t say amazing, eye-catching, or any other similar word. He uses remarkable because some brands are so unique and interesting people simply have to talk about them. They just have to tell a friend about what this brand did. This of course, is the strongest weapon in your marketing arsenal – word-of-mouth.

Even if a team has yet to do, say, or even think anything remarkable, they still have this potential. Brand uniqueness can be traced back to the way the brand was founded, an out-of-the-ordinary approach to solving problems, or something as simple as the quality of the customer experience.

Above all, being a remarkable brand requires identifying the brand promise and delivering on it, without fail, time and time again.