Why would they love you?

Why would your customers love you?

What would make people feel so passionately about your company that they would feel privileged to be your customer, ignore your competition, and plead with their friends to do business with you?

These are the key questions for your brand. This is where all discussions of your brand should start and end.

Why would our customers love us?

This is not, of course, how branding is typically considered. Just talk to people about the concept of branding, or Google the word “branding.” What you will hear and see is a lot of talk about “positioning” and “presenting.”

You can’t position and present yourself into a meaningful relationship with a customer. You can’t talk a customer into loving you.

My work in branding has for years used the following principle:Your brand is not what you say you are, it is what your customers believe you are. This teaches us that to create a brand strategy we need to determine what we want our customers to believe before we determine what we are going to say. (… which is, let’s face it, 180 degrees from the way most branding is done.)

This principle is as true as ever, but it is possible to misuse it. For example, you might say, “We want our customers to believe we serve them with honesty and integrity.” Yawn. Who cares? Where’s the love?

We must aim much higher. We must ask the question “Why would our customers love us?” and then we must pursue this question until we have a compelling answer.

This question seems easier for some brands than others. For example, my client Rancho La Puerta, has a pretty clear idea of what makes customers fall in love with them. After 71 years of helping people transform their lives, tens of thousands of repeat visits from loving customers, and two years in a row as Travel + Leisure magazine’s “World’s Best Destination Spa,” Rancho La Puerta has a good sense of the magic it creates and why people love it.

But most of us don’t run spas. Most of us don’t give us our customers massages, delicious, healthy food and transcendent mountain hikes. It’s harder for us to create the love, because our products and services aren’t nearly as innately lovable as Rancho La Puerta’s.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter. In my consulting practice, my team and I work with lots of companies whose products don’t seem, on the surface, to be exciting, yet whose customers are in love with them. I have seen people be in love with insurance agencies, printing shops and landscape companies. I have had customers describe powerful emotions about all kinds of companies, even those without a glossy sheen that catches your attention from afar.

Every one of us has a lovable business. All of us are capable of doing things that are extremely meaningful to customers.

Just think how different your business would be if your customers loved you.

Engineers would storm into purchasing managers’ offices and say, “I don’t care what your procurement rules are, I NEED to hire Westshore Tool & Die for this project.”

Wives would say to husbands, “I don’t care if they’re more expensive, Kishinev Builders is the only company we are going to allow to remodel our house.”

People would say to their colleagues, “Are you nuts? You’re not doing business with Acme Computer Services? Call them now!!!”

Your company is outstanding. It is worthy of so much more love than the bullet points on your brochure suggest. Brand positioning and a mission statement rarely aim high enough to describe this love. They rarely ask, or answer, “Why would our customers love us?”

Start addressing this question right now. Aim high. You will identify what would make your customers love you, and then you be that much closer to earning that love.

Steve Yastrow

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