Branding isn’t just about style boards and logos. It really breaks down into controlling impressions of your business. And while those visuals are important, they just don’t work without understanding your target audience.
Here’s a problem I see with companies big and small. They spend a lot of time and energy developing a logo, but almost none of that on their target audience. The result is predictable. The have a really cool look that the company likes, but they don’t connect with their customer base.
The reason is because they chose the style and branding they, the company, likes instead of finding out what their target likes. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Hear this: It doesn’t matter how much time and money you spend on your logo until you find your target audience.
Target Branding Resistance
As much sense as that just made, I constantly get clients who share the same mentality about their target.
“Everyone is my target!”
Wrong! If everyone is your target, then no one is, simply because, unless you’re the only source of air, then you can’t reach everyone.
There’s no way you can reach everyone. You don’t have the resources, the energy, the commitment, or the massive appeal. You don’t. Apple, who has more cash on hand than any other company is worth, knows this, so just go ahead and come to terms with it.
Even after knowing they can’t reach everyone, companies are still resistant to targeting. They resist because it feels like they are limiting their growth. In all actuality, they are ensuring their growth by targeting. Here’s why.
When you start out, you have no following, no brand loyalty, or even brand recognition. Ask yourself, is it easier to draw a small crowd or a large crowd? Small, right? So through targeting, you find the people most likely to benefit from your business. They love what you do and are willing to invest in you.
But then something cool happens. There’s always a shift. If your brand functions correctly, it will attract fringe targets. People who want to be like your target audience will start noticing your company. And then they will invest in it too, just to be like your target audience.
Don’t believe me? What happened when Nike targeted professional athletes? When Apple targeted professional creatives, they knew what they were doing. Why did Starbucks grow so much during the grunge period of music? Fringe markets tapped through influencer marketing, that’s what happened.
Not doing the work to find your target audience is just lazy. That’s the biggest resistance to targeted branding.
What Targeted Branding Does
As I mentioned earlier, finding your target audience helps you build that smaller group of people to build a bigger audience. But there’s another reason why brand targeting is important.
When you sit down with a designer and start working on a logo or style guide, how do you know what visuals to pick?
I recently talked with a designer who worked with a brand bringing high-end lingerie to the market. They wanted to use a sans serif typeface that blended two letters into the shape of a woman’s bust. It was a clever design, but it was horrible branding.
A thin, sans serif typeface doesn’t communicate high-end. It communicates modern or maybe even playful. Brands like Armani, Gucci, Burberry, and many others get that. It’s not a hard and fast rule. but it’s a general guide.
Then there was the literal translation of the typography. High-end is generally subtle, not overt. Having the typography blatantly suggesting a woman’s décolletage doesn’t feel like a luxury brand. It’s playful and fun, maybe, but not high-end.
So finding a target audience helps you get clarity in deciding what visuals represent your brand.
Why Brand Targeting Works
Ok, here’s the distilled truth for everyone who has ever considered starting a business in any field with any product – there are people out there who want your product or service.
Even if you’re not original, even if you have such a small niche that you could fit them in a closet with you. It doesn’t matter the size. What matters is the passion you share and the simplicity in which you share it (branding).
Listen to what Seth Godin, marketing guru, wrote about this in Tribes, “In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.”
Targeted branding not only identifies your audience, it tells you how to find them, speak to them and gather their attention. It teaches you how to be the chief.
If you were convinced about the need for targeted branding after reading this article, I would love to send you an excerpt from my ginormous branding process that helps my clients find their target audience.