Brand anchor: A straightforward tool for time-pressed marketers

By Sean
Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 48 seconds.

Embed the value of your brand into everything you do and you’ll be easier to spot, easier to remember and easier to choose.

That’s easy to say, but how does it work in practice?

Our anchor tool gives you a clear guide to use when approaching any form of marketing or messaging, enabling you to stay locked in to your brand identity.

Download tool here.

To establish a brand you must build associations – themes, messages or aspects of the value you offer that will have a positive and lasting influence on people’s perception of you.

Without these associations your products and services will remain commodities. People will choose you based on crude comparisons with everyone else. Because, essentially, you’ll be the same as everyone else.

But by identifying and clearly communicating the core value of your organisation as a whole (not just the features of your products or services) you can stand out from the crowd with more effective and targeted marketing.

To make the best use of this Brand Clear tool, you need to identify:

What you do

The genuine value you provide to customers beyond a single product or service.

Why you do it

Your core purpose, the reason your organisation exists beyond any commercial needs.

What matters to people 

The most important thing for your target market, which your product or service helps with.

To put this idea into context, we’ll give you an example of a real Brand Clear client – a fitness and wellbeing business called Training Shed.

Their ‘What’: EDUCATION

At the heart of everything Training Shed does is the sharing of knowledge. Because the more you know about your own body, the more control you have.

Their ‘Why’: WHOLENESS

Training Shed believes in a healthy balance of Fitness and Wellbeing, where the physical and the mental can work together to make a happier, healthier you.

Their ‘What matters’: AGENT OF CHANGE

Training Shed are the catalyst for motivation, enabling people to make the small changes that lead to a better quality of life.

Training Shed uses these themes to create confident messages and marketing that relates directly to their brand ethos.

From fitness videos that demonstrate Wholeness, to Educational blogs and guides, to products and services that are specifically designed to act as an Agent of Change.

By using these core elements as an anchor, Training Shed is ensuring that everything they say or do will reinforce the positive associations they want to build with their audience.

Because that’s how you create a clear brand that makes all the difference.

Let’s walk through an example of how you might identify the themes that best represent your organisation.

Setting: You’re a marketer for a business providing digital products for the accounting software market 

Your Brand anchor could be assembled using the following themes:

  • What you do:

Your ‘What’ is more than just the tasks you undertake. It’s the fundamental practical value that you deliver.

It’s the answer to the question: “What does this do for me?”.

Our example SaaS organisation contributes towards the growth of its clients, and each of the products we provide is geared towards helping businesses grow.

But how is that achieved? Is that the limits of what we do? Can you just say ‘growth’ is what we provide, or is there a practical function we can identify that achieves that outcome?

In this case, what we really ‘do’ is create efficiency. This is the underlying value of all our work, whether it’s in automation, streamlining or better accountancy management.

Now the fun part: With our theme of ‘Efficiency’ in place, we can create a wealth of consistent content all inspired and rooted in our organisation’s brand ethos.

Marketing materials, for instance, will be focused on how our products create Efficiency.

Case Studies will give evidence of how we’ve created Efficiency for clients.

Product listings will emphasise the impact that each option has on Efficiency.

By repeating this highly relevant and easy to understand ‘theme’ of Efficiency in our communications and using it to drive our decisions, we achieve a crucial goal:

People will associate our organisation with ‘Efficiency’.

  • Why you do it:

Your ‘Why’ is more personal. It’s emotive. So it should trigger an emotional reaction in your audience, rather than a rational response.

Whether it’s the emotional response we create (happiness, relief, etc) or the emotional pain we solve (frustration, uncertainty, etc.), you can’t create a strong ‘Why’ without understanding the emotive impact we make.

Any ‘Why’ should be steered by two things:

  • Your Purpose – The reason you exist, as an organisation, beyond any commercial need
  • Your Belief – The motivation behind why you do what you do, and why you’re doing this and not selling ice-cream instead

Purpose and Belief is personal to each and every organisation, so that even two businesses offering the same product will have two very different views on the world and what they stand for.

Let’s suggest that our Purpose is “to provide the foundation needed for sustainable growth”. We’ll also say that our Belief is that “businesses need more than money to achieve growth”.

Our Purpose and Belief both connect more to long-term resilience than short-term thinking, and that although money is important, there’s a deeper structure needed to promote growth.

In simple terms? Stability is our ‘Why’ – it’s how you support growth, sustain growth and avoid being overwhelmed by growth. 

Our values will be qualities which support the creation of Stability.

Our products and services will be judged on whether they live up to our promise of delivering Stability.

Our advertising will provoke an emotional response from people who either celebrate or crave Stability.

As an organisation’s ‘Why’ will necessarily be rooted in emotive language, it offers the perfect inspiration for advertising and top-of-funnel content.

That’s because people don’t remember features, they remember feelings – if we can create a positive emotional association with ‘Stability’ among our audience, it will achieve far more to raise our profile than any other rational message we can produce.

  • What matters to people:

What really matters to people (what gets them over the line and creates paying customers) isn’t what you promise or even how you deliver. 

It’s what you leave them with. It’s the outcome that matters most.

Marketing and brand communications are fundamentally about managing the meaning that people attach to your brand.

To do this you must understand your audience – the jobs they need to do, the pains they’re experiencing and the gains they would most benefit from.

Identifying these factors helps us to hone in on what really matters to the people we should be targeting. So for our SaaS business, we’ll want to help people who:

  • Need to do invoicing, process payments or make financial forecasts
  • Suffer from late payments, the grind of menial tasks and the headache of fighting many little fires
  • Would benefit from reducing errors, streamlined systems and convenient solutions

With this picture we can understand the outcome that would matter most to our target audience. We can see that by giving them more ‘Control’, we would be giving them a better quality of life.

So ‘Control’ delivers on what really matters to people, and our activity can seek to make people associate us with that outcome.

Testimonials would be structured around telling stories that proved we gave our clients more Control.

Products would be recommended to different clients depending on their need for different types and scales of Control.

Prospects could be defined and approached based on our understanding of their need for increased Control.

By giving an emotional promise of Stability, we make our organisation memorable and raise awareness among people who want what we offer.

By consistently demonstrating our practical impact on Efficiency, we help people decide whether we’re the right choice for them and what they need.

Finally, by understanding the critical importance of Control, we can establish the trust needed for people to commit to working with us.


What next?

Of course, the most challenging part of using this tool is recognising your What, Why and What Matters. 

Until you define these themes clearly and effectively, you’ll have trouble getting the impact you really want or seeing any significant results.

If you’d like some help or guidance in overcoming this challenge, we’re always happy to help: ask away to talk@brandclear.co.uk

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