Branding tips from Mercedes-Benz’s success

What happens when you tell someone a story about a brand they love? It is likely they will stop what they are doing and tune into your story with complete focus, devouring every single detail.

This is how my father reacts every time I talk to him about Mercedes-Benz. The love he feels towards the German car manufacturer cannot be summarised in words. Ever since I was a little girl, this is the car brand he has always chosen to drive. It made no difference if other brands revamped their designs, Mercedes was always the story he tuned in to no matter where he was.

A few weeks ago I was admiring a branding business run by an Emirati acquaintance of mine. His branding agency is called Shades, and his slogan reads: “Once upon a time”. His business, similar to mine, emphasises the importance on sharing a client’s unique business story, because if you dig deeper into a consumer’s mindset you will find that there is a story, a link that makes them prefer certain brands to others. Perhaps it is sentimental, or perhaps a brand’s story shares a particular dream of theirs.

Whatever the reason, just as my father is only interested in Mercedes, why is it that some brands can resonate with its clients so much that they never want to consider others?

Let us look at the following example: a woman named Fatima sells beautiful handmade garments made by young women who are earning a living to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. They are women who have been through hardship, who refused to be knocked down by all the negativity in their lives.

Surely Fatima could simply say: “Yes, I offer handmade garments”, and leave it at that. That may have worked in the past when, the story behind a business did not matter as much. But that is not the case now in today’s competitive global market.

Here is where proper marketing could help enhance Fatima’s business performance and that of other businesses as well. Advertising the garments as not only handmade, but handmade by her strong, hardworking fellow women would communicate a message that resonates more.

As Fatima reaches out to her audience, she needs to have this question in mind: who is this product or service for?

Is it for women who are already shopping for handmade garments? Or is it for women who strive for success, for the overachievers who do not let anything stand in their way?

As you plan your business, you need to also keep that question in mind: who is it for?

It is not enough to keep the basic demographic information in mind as you plan your business. Instead, you need to dig deeper to a level where your target audience feels that your business speaks to them, understands them and believes in their beliefs. Questions to keep in mind are: what does my customer base believe in? What are their ambitions? Are they fearless? Are they risk takers?

When you look at any of the Red Bull energy drink advertisements, you can tell it targets a specific group of people – not only the young, but also the adventurous, adrenalin junkies and those that are happy, fearless and lovers of life.

As you launch your business, ensure that you communicate your offering to your target audience. Do not state that your business is for everyone. Instead, communicate it to a specific group. Say: “this is what we offer, for those who believe in XYZ”.

The problem is that too many business owners only ask the “who is it for?” question after they have launched their product or service. Instead, include this question in your business launch process. Then take everything that you learn about your target audience’s mindset and incorporate that into your business offering.

Asking “who is it for” is the reason why Mercedes has loyal clients such as my father.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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