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Your target audience is key to relevance

If you want to be relevant avoiding risk, you need to develop and test your brand with your target audience.


By Marcel Schubert, Founder & CEO at burnt GmbH.


There are too many brands on the market today, so we need to help customers decide if ours is the right brand for them. A very effective way to achieve this is to disrupt your industry and be significantly different from your competitors. If your product or service is innovative and has unique features, you did a great job. But that is not what I mean. People generally have a perception of a particular industry. When searching for new insurance, for example, we have clear expectations. The typical insurance brand looks serious, clean, and communicates the same way as every other insurance brand. The question is, what happens if an insurance company disrupts this perception? What happens when the color scheme and communication are completely different from those of their competitors? The right and so far unaddressed target audience can recognize the difference between them and perhaps even like them for that reason.

In theory, disruptive ideas are simple, but companies are generally hesitant to try them because of the risk involved. What can you do to reduce the risk? The answer is to make your target audience part of your brand development process. Each year, you should invite your target audience to brand workshops. Find out what they want, what their problems are, and so on, in order to create solutions that are relevant to them. To quote Marty Neumeier: “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” Therefore, you will not only develop your brand with them but also make it relevant to them. This keeps your brand flexible and agile.

You should discuss innovative solutions with your target audience before implementing them in the market

You should discuss innovative solutions with your target audience before implementing them in the market. For instance, if you want to update your brand design, improve customer service, or develop unique touchpoints. By building a website prototype, you can test the brand colors, the brand message, or the first perception of your brand. You can also simulate a customer service call with your target audience to create a different customer experience than expected. There are many ways to test your brand, and your target audience’s feedback is always valuable. You should aim to learn how relevant your solution is to your target audience and what they really want by getting feedback from them. There are some people who dislike your solutions, while there are others who love them. The following questions are important after a test: Will they purchase your product? Why or why not? Would they recommend your brand to others or not? Is your brand more trustworthy than your competitors?

You can make your brand different, keep it relevant, and make your target audience love it by using this approach. In our Brand Strategy Sprints, we always warn our clients when they made the mistake of not collaborating with their target audience. They often have clear goals for how they want to position themselves as a brand but after the first test of a prototype, they don’t receive the feedback they expected. As a result, our clients realize they need to change their strategy, and with our second target audience test, they receive better feedback and discover how to position their brand. Remember: “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

Lastly, don’t be worried if the new solutions don’t work, it was just a test. Create different disruptive ideas and test them with prototypes together with your target audience to reduce risk, understand your target audience, and build a brand with them and for them.

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