A freakin’ awesome brand is visionary

The world does not need more brands. People are already inundated with information. In fact, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. Today, it is just 8.25 seconds. Think about that. Our attention span has dropped by nearly one-third. We better have something freakin’ awesome to offer if we want today’s average joe to pay attention.

The problem with the majority of brands

Too many brands want to tell us about their features. Yes, I’m looking at you car manufacturers.

Some will go a step further and offer us some superficial benefits. For example, an internet service that is dependable – giving you peace of mind. That’s better than just hitting us with features, but it’s still pretty lightweight.

The visionary brand

A visionary brand reaches beyond the features and superficial benefits. A visionary brand champions something meaningful and worthwhile in our world. If we do this, it creates an impassioned desire among people to be part of our quest. It is how movements begin.

Let me give a personal example. In my firm's financial services practice area, I wrote this manifesto to explain to prospects the meaningful and worthwhile quest behind our brand:

We do what we do in financial services marketing for one very simple reason. We believe that no one should have to feel intimidated by money.

We believe our financial lives should be easier to understand. Our money and information should be accessible, when and where we choose. And it should all help us feel more in control, so we feel like we can make good decisions.

We are on a mission to help create this invaluable confidence. Because none of us should have to feel intimidated by something we work so hard to get.

We could have said our brand was about, “Optimizing your efforts to increase engagement.” But, come on. Every one of our competitors does that.

Instead we got down to our passion. We got down to our belief that we could help improve people’s lives. Money can be a wonderful thing. But we also know it is the cause of a myriad of problems – from health issues to divorce. We wanted to do something about that.

If you’re going to have a big audacious goal, there is no better place to start than with your brand definition.

Your brand doesn’t have to save the world

It’s awesome to have the ambition to make a big difference in the world. But it doesn’t have to start that way. Sometimes a smaller meaningful and worthwhile idea can grow into a movement.

The Starbucks brand isn’t just about a good cup of coffee. The brand became all about a cool little oasis where anyone can treat themselves to a small getaway. It was expressed in the coffee as well as the environment (design, music, people, and more). That’s not a world-changing idea. But it resonated with a population that maybe felt overworked and under appreciated. People have become passionate about the brand because it gives them something they had been longing for. That’s pretty awesome to help people feel a little better in the course of their day.

Another great example is Coca-Cola. The brand identified that what they do is bring a little bit of happiness to people’s lives. I love that they realized that a bottle of sugar water wasn’t going to change the world. But what if they could bring a little happiness to someone? Here’s the bigger idea. What if that happiness spread? What would our world be like then? Is that too ambitious for soda-pop? You have to decide. But I do appreciate that the brand is asking us to think about a world with a little more happiness.

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