Why do people remember some brands and others look just generic?
Why some brands attract a strong following and others just get chosen as a cheaper alternative?
Many companies sell outdoor gear, but Patagonia is unique. Many sell home goods and furniture, but only IKEA has managed to grab the hearts of customers across the globe.
What do they have that other companies don’t?
Clear mission, vision and values.
They give direction and facilitate decision-making. If you know what you want to achieve (vision) and how you want to do it (mission), there’s your strategy.
Businesses that set out to sell without such alignment often struggle to find their product-market fit, audience, voice, right channels and communication, and ultimately fail to build a strong brand.
It’s hard to grow if you don’t know where you’re going. To fix problems with sales and marketing, you need to clear about what and how you want to do.
It is true business is done for profit and many companies are downright practical and void of passions.
But it’s different for the new direct-to-consumer brands where you’re not just another cosmetics conglomerate or a T-shirt print-on-demand or a lux eyewear brand.
As a DTC brand, you need to show why you started in the first place. What made you innovate in this industry? What do you do differently?
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, wanted to make sturdier rock climbing gear. Warby Parker’s foudnders David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, as we all know, wanted to make chic and affordable eyewear.
To win loyal customers and build a brand people want to talk about, start with what you believe in and why are you doing it all.
Those values will pave the way to everything in your business: how you make your products and who your customers are, how you communicate and what partnerships you do, etc., etc.
And best of all: those values will attract like-minded people to you.
When you lack any underlying values for your brand, it is lifeless and boring, doesn’t stand for anything and doesn’t inspire people, which means they cannot connect to it.
It is where you want to go with your brand and business, what you want to achieve in the future.
IKEA defines it as:
“To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
For you, it might be “to be the go-to children’s smart watch in Europe” or “to change the way people think about clothes and minimize the harm done to the environment by fast fashion”.
Your vision is your goal, your destination and all business decisions should be taken in that direction.
Your mission is how you are going to get to your goal state, to achieve your vision.
For IKEA it is by
“offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
See the HOW emerging? The mission outlines the concrete means to reach the vision and it’s the beginning to look like an action plan.
Getting your vision and mission straight means you will know where to start from and what to lay down first as the foundations of your business.
As Zappos proved, customer service can be leading even without in-house inventory.
Patagonia’s dedication to the best-quality gear at the smallest environmental cost has shaped their whole business and manufacturing for over 40 years.
You might’ve started already and don’t want to go back and rethink those things, but you’d better do.
This will clear many of the questions you’re asking yourself like
Quite probably, it is because you’re shooting in the dark, reaching all kinds of people without clear messaging or a unique value proposition to grab their attention.
Yet another clothing brand is nothing wow. A new product without a background story and a “why” will not be understood by the customers.
A client of ours recently scrapped all his product categories but one because he realized his vision is to help people keep important memories and his mission is to offer custom jewelry that keep memories alive. Since he cannot offer that customization for all kinds of jewelry, he’s just keeping the rings. That’s what we call focus!
Plus, a brand with a story and identity can charge more than a generic product.
And it will all come if you know where you’re going and how you’re planning to get there.
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