Brand Like Your Company Really Matters In a rapidly changing landscape, businesses must to get closer to customers to create products they will truly value.

By Cory Sistrunk

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Every company worth starting begins with roughly the same basic ingredients: a great product, a big vision, and a belief that both can add something meaningful to the world. Now it just comes down to getting people to buy into your idea.

But the world is changing. The rise of new technology and fresh business models -- as well as the arrival of customers who are no longer indiscriminate spenders -- have created a new dynamic landscape.

Unfortunately, our approach to creating value hasn't caught up. We're applying the same old marketing model to a world that demands evolution to stay innovative. The demand to generate more content, products, and features faster than everyone else has created a shouting match with overloaded websites, splintered messaging, siloed teams and a slavish devotion to trends.

There needs to be a shift in the way we approach value creation as well as a fundamental return to what makes us human. Today, the only way to create lasting value is to create brands that people believe in.

Related: 7 Stupid Branding Mistakes Your Small Business is Making

First start with the why. The very best companies have come to a visceral understanding of why they matter. And this is the very first stage in branding. Though this all sounds like common sense, but skipping this step is why so many products and companies fail.

Consider these questions: Why does your company matter? Why is it different? And why would the world be a darker place without your brand? Finding the answers leads to your big why, and that's the foundation to building a brand that lasts.

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We're living in an unprecedented era where access to any type of customer data is just a few clicks away. But we have to be careful. Customers are people, not data sets. They care deeply about their lives and what they bring into them. Once you really understand why your company matters, create a two-way dialogue that connects customers to your vision.

It's easy to point out big brands like Nike or Apple who do this so well, but even small companies like Whistle, a new activity tracker for pets, get it. From the hardware and software to its marketing experiences, Whistle understands that creating an emotional connection with customers is what fuels belief. This is a simple, powerful idea and its execution is integrated.

Related: Experience Your Brand From Your Customers' Perspective

Experiences do matter. The days of giant global rollouts and massive campaigns are dwindling, and hoping that your message will rise to the top with your yelling louder or more often than everyone else isn't a sound strategy.

Instead, take an experience-first approach. The experiences your company creates can be big or small -- whether they take place inside a 280,000-square-foot office space or with the arrival of a 140-character tweet -- but what's important is that each one means something to your customers. Look at the way Apple meticulously designs its packaging. Where other companies see a box, Apple sees an experience.

Or take Zappos. Yes, customers may call in to buy a pair of shoes, but what they're actually getting is a finely-tuned and carefully honed experience centered around a single, powerful idea: Superior service above all else.

Integrate, integrate, integrate. More content and more products aren't the answer to muscling your way through all the white noise.

The old process of creating value took place in silos, with one agency handling packaging, another one strategy and yst another taking care of digital. Today companies need to evolve to see everything through the lens of integration. Everyone from marketing teams and managers to designers, strategists and developers must come together so as to create experiences that truly mean something.

The simple truth is that today people want to feel good about what they buy, and they have more control than ever over the brands they bring into their lives. It's a new economy, one in which belief is the new currency. Invest in it, and customers will invest in you.

Related: The Secrets of 7 Successful Brands

Wavy Line
Cory Sistrunk

President, Rapt Studio

Cory Sistrunk, president of the San Francisco-based multidisciplinary design practice Rapt Studio, is experienced with branding and experience design. He and his team help companies such as Adobe, Google and The North Face develop a strategic, holistic brand message that permeates everything from a logo and website to architecture and interior design. Rapt Studio has received global recognition for its work, most recently with the Interior Design Best of Year Award for its work on the Adobe Campus in Utah.

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