How do we know this? Enter Blake Lively. The charming, talented, and savvy actress created a company called Preserve. What was Preserve exactly?
If you read the articles, all we can gather is that it was a brand. Literally, that was the main function of the company. It was a lifestyle brand that made money by selling overpriced hipster knick knacks to millennials. And it wasn’t successful.
I’m sure Mrs. Lively (err…Reynolds?) had no shortage of business advisors and financial strategists ensuring that her decisions were sound and the company’s books were hygienic. Poor planning was not the reason Preserve failed (although poor user experience and site development might have been part of it — watch me talk about that on October 15th).
Preserve failed because its product was the brand.
Nobody cares about your brand.
“But it’s my brand!”
Why do people care about Apple? Apple solved a problem. They changed our lives. Apple provides a product that people use every single day.
Tell me. Does your brand solve a problem? Do people seek out your brand to provide solutions to their problems?
I would argue, no. People are trying solve their problems by seeking out the solution to their problem (cue earth shattering.) A product. A service. An experience. When that person is willing to exchange money for the solution to their problem, that’s a consumer. When people are trying to find a solution to a problem that you’ve solved, that’s a customer.
People are trying to find solutions to their problems.
You want to make sure they find the solution that you’re providing so that they can buy it from you. They are brand agnostic until they’ve bought your product. No matter how cool your brand is, how solid your mission statement reads, or how catchy your slogan is, it’s not going to sell customers. Your product is going to sell them. And if they buy your product, that’s great! They now have a relationship with your brand and might care about who you are. They might even talk about you with their friends, or (gasp!) share your content on their Facebook wall.
But none of that will happen if you keep trying to sell people your brand.
That will only get you so far. If you’re a celebrity, you’ll get a few sales maybe. A few promoters, sure. Lively wanted Preserve to “make a difference in people’s lives.”
Well, a $20 jar of pickles just isn’t going to do that, Blake.
As marketers and entrepreneurs, we have to understand that consumers aren’t scouring the internet falling into clever brand messaging traps we set for them. They are searching for a service or product, that we’ve built, that is going to make their life better by solving their problem for a competitive price. Let’s make sure they find our solutions, because they’re not going to be looking for our brand.