By Pete Kloppenburg
It’s a truth so widely accepted, it seems painfully obvious to say it: One of the keys to great communication is a knowledge of your audience. This is true of your brand as well. In fact, an understanding of audience is one of the primary requirements we have before we’ll embark on a branding project with our clients.
Here’s another truth: It’s not so easy to define your audience in a precise and useful way. What seems simple and obvious in your own mind can quickly become muddled and confusing when you get together as a group and dig down into the details.
But that’s no reason to avoid having the conversation. Not only is it absolutely necessary for a successful branding project to have a clear answer to this question, but the conversation itself can be of tremendous value.
What does this conversation look like? And what can happen? Let’s take a look.
The first thing that might happen is that you find some pretty serious disagreements. Don’t be discouraged! Think of it this way – here is proof that you really are due for this discussion. Better to find out about it now than have your sales and marketing gallop off in all directions, chasing completely different audiences.
Some of these disagreements may not be a matter of right and wrong. They might simply be a matter of priority. No doubt you’ve got to appeal to a lot of different people, but some are more important than others.
Let’s take the example of a toy company. Who is the primary audience for the brand? Is it the child the toys are meant for? Or is it the mother who controls the toy-buying purse strings? Or is it the executives at Walmart and ToysRUs who control whether your product makes it to the store shelves in the first place? The answer may depend as much on your business strategy as anything else. When you begin the branding process, these priorities will guide you as you zero in on the right personality traits, brand promises, and positions to stress.
You’ve got to make a choice.
There is, of course, an easy answer to the question of which audience to focus on: It’s all of them! Our brand must appeal to everyone, everywhere! But as is so often the case in life, this easy answer is the wrong answer. Your audience may well include all these groups, but in the end, you must choose one audience as your primary audience. You simply cannot create a quality brand that tries to be all things to all people. However, it is possible to create a brand with a single, clearly defined primary audience and a secondary and even tertiary audience. And after than, you can even add the “influencers”.
Fill in some blanks.
During this conversation about audience, you should spend some time describing them. This exercise will vary depending on your branding challenge. For B2C products, you can talk about your customers’ age, education, aspirations, and pains. For B2B audiences, you may well talk about their aspirations, job title and industry, and perhaps company size.
You don’t have to nail down every last detail during the conversation. For the special needs of your brand, you’ll revisit your audience as part of the branding process and dig deeper. But by taking care of some big big questions now, when you start talking brand, you will focus more immediately on the audience that matters.