Building a Brand into a Cultural Phenomenon – Part 4

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Posted May 18, 2012
Susan Gunelius

So far in the Building a Brand into a Cultural Phenomenon series, you've learned about the 5 stages of brand growth, the primary ingredients needed to become a brand phenomenon, and the extra secret ingredient that is necessary to become a true brand phenomenon. Now, it's time to learn how you can gather the information you need to make all of that happen. In other words, you need to conduct brand research to gather the data and insights necessary to make the right strategic decisions for your brand.

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The most powerful brands know their loyal customers very well. They listen to what brand advocates say and think, which enables them to understand and eventually anticipate their higher-level needs as discussed in Part 2 of the Building a Brand into a Cultural Phenomenon series. Remember, the fourth stage of brand growth is becoming relationship brand. In other words, brand phenomena already have strong relationships with their loyal advocates.

Relationships that aren't continually nurtured fade and eventually die. Just as people have to nurture relationships with friends, family, and other people, brands have to nurture relationships with advocates. If you don't acknowledge your most loyal customers, make them feel special, and value their opinions, then why should they care about your brand beyond its ability to meet their basic human needs? They won't, and you brand cannot become a phenomenon if it doesn't meet higher level, psychological and emotional needs.

You can't assume what those needs are. Nor can you assume you're meeting higher level needs. Instead, you need to continually communicate with your customers, particularly your loyal brand advocates, to learn what's important to them, how they feel about your brand, and what they're saying about it. You can do this through social media monitoring to keep tabs on conversations happening across the web as well as through market research.

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As your brand moves through the stages of brand growth, consumers' relationships with your brand evolve. That means their feelings toward your brand can change, too. If you're not surveying your audience to ensure you're meeting their needs and collecting insight into their emotional connections to your brand, you won't be able to create behavior models for your target audience and anticipate consumers' needs in the future. You also won't be able to identify the best messages and brand experiences to develop.

If you drop the ball and don't stay on top of consumer wants, needs, and feelings, your competitor will. Don't forget that consumers are fickle. If your brand fails to meet their expectations, you might not get a second chance to make things better. You can't afford to skip brand research. Relying on assumptions is a guaranteed way to make the wrong decisions and alienate your most loyal brand advocates.

In other words, to achieve true brand phenomenon status, you need to know your customers better than they know themselves. You can gain the knowledge you need through research and by listening. They want to tell you what they like and don't like. Let them talk to you by providing forums for them to do it online and through research studies.

If you missed previous parts of the Building a Brand into a Cultural Phenomenon series, you can follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Laura Leavell, Sigurd Decroos

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