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What is the role of a target audience in branding?

It got me thinking about the tools and processes we go use as branders when crafting an identity, where does the audience/audiences fit into the equation.

 

By Lauren Jones, Director, Box Creative Ltd.

 

Made me think about what a target audience even is, and how to connect to it…


So let’s start at the beginning - what is a target audience?

Simply put, it’s who the brand is built for, who you serve and identifying the role you play in their lives - what problem are you solving, what delight are you bringing to them, what value do you deliver to them.


We, at Box Creative, don’t refer to them as a ‘Target Audience’ we simply say they are OUR audience. And many brands have multiple audiences they need to cater for - and so ‘Target Audience’ to me is the term for the executional marketing from the brand strategy: who within our audiences do we need to reach and engage with?


Take Foundations - their audiences include programmatic partners, recipients, talent, fellow funders and other foundations, the board, the founder - each are their audience, each has differing needs, actions and messaging. A target audience for a campaign may be partners to underwrite a programme, for example. It’s more tactical in its application.


That said, if you try to be all things to all people, you will not mean anything to anyone. Connecting with your audience is about that emotional resonance that speaks to them. And this is important - it’s not for everyone. It’s for the few.

Vanilla. Bland. Timid.


Too afraid to say something, stand for anything and therefore mean something to anyone. People will walk past, scroll past - crickets.


Consider the last purchase you made. Why was that? What made you pick that over anything else? Was it a hammering of IG ads that seemed to be written just for you? Was it because your cool sibling got one and you want in on the action?

Whatever got you there, the reason you actually bought it or engaged with that brand is because it was saying something about you. Brands are a way we identify ourselves and show our values and personality to the world - we need to see ourselves in the brand, an alignment of values, style, purpose, intention etc.


And this is wondrously different for everyone.


By understanding specific pockets of people that have common motivations, perceptions, pain points, needs and desires, you can tap into that inner emotional driver they have. So having a particular person in mind everytime you write a piece of content, create a new service or develop a new product, they can help steer the decisions you make and the why behind it.


I would strongly suggest that a great, clear brand strategy fundamentally encompasses this ideology which becomes the way the brand behaves, shows up, speaks and interacts with its audience - it’s intentional and purposeful.

Not being for everyone is OK - better to be invaluable to fewer and develop a rich relationship with them.

So how important is the ‘Target Audience’ for Brands?

Brands are created in the hearts and minds of its audience, each has their own experience of that brand, they own how they feel about that brand, they own what the brand means to them. They do not exist without an audience.


So it all starts with them.


The more you can better understand them - their fears, desires, motivations, perceptions etc, then the better you will be in service to them, and the more likely you are to operate in the sweet spot: that intersection of brand strengths and clients needs.


Once you’re there, you get them, understand them and you. Then what? How do you create a great experiences for the ‘Target Audience’?

Design it!


Great experiences with brands is a long term growth strategy - leading to repeat custom, referrals, loyal followers and advocates for your brand.

How? Map out the current customer journey - how they interact with you pre, during and post engagement (I say engagement and not ‘sale’ as I work with many non profits who’s end goal isn’t always a sale).


Once you know where you show up (and where’s missing) and your opportunities to interact with your audience at each stage, you can ask yourself: am I delivering on this as a function or am I surpassing expectation? How can I improve it? You can intentionally design each moment to embed the personality, tone of voice, values, delight, something extra, whatever you see as relevant (all of it?!). A great brand experience will be the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s all about connecting and enhancing each moment you have with your audience.


You need to show up where they are - to get visibility - that’s a marketing tactic I don’t know much about!


Once you’re there, it’s about being unignorable, stand out, remarkable.

There’s too much crap and noise out there to be timid. I don’t mean you have to be luminous and have bold type and visuals. But you can have a killer message that can smack someone between the eyes. You can have a beautiful image that will stop someone in their tracks. You can have a call to action that is too compelling to ignore.


Connecting with your audience is about that emotional resonance that speaks to them. And this is important - it’s not for everyone. It’s for the few.

Get the right balance of visual and verbal, backed up by a great end-to-end brand experience (be it product or service), and you will have a fan. You will be indispensable to them, tell their friends all about it and come back for more.

Sounds good, right?

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