5 Ways your brand can mean more.

A photo by Cameron Kirby. unsplash.com/photos/L0Z2T9VVrqU

Modern consumers are savvy consumers. They’re conscientious consumers. And, when they’re truly invested in a brand, they’re passionate consumers.

Here are five ways your organization, whether you’re running a mom-and-pop restaurant, a community-based nonprofit or a global corporation, can MEAN MORE to those consumers—or, as they should be called, people.

1. Tell the true story of how you do what you do (as long as you’re doing it sustainably).

Is your factory a pinnacle of technology and efficiency? Is everything that comes out of your kitchen locally sourced? Do you charge your phone with solar power? If you don’t have a story like this, you need it. People want to know your product is reliable; they want to know your business is sustainable.

People today will sacrifice product features to buy from a company that believes in creating products and services responsibly. This egg looks and tastes just like that egg, but that egg comes from a cage-free chicken. Sold.

See just how much the story of how a cage-free egg can change the entire U.S. egg market.

2. Focus on real-life outcomes.

The proof is no longer in the pudding. The proof is, instead, in the live-cultured goat milk Greek yogurt with probiotics. Your business goals should focus first on real-life, positive outcomes, allowing customers to connect on a fundamental level with your company. People are smarter than feel-good sing-alongs and white-coated “doctors.” Who has your product helped, and how?

A true focus here can change your business from the inside out, shifting internal motivation and creating an opportunity for authentic relationships with customers.

See how GOJO keeps it fresh.

 3. Be transparent. Yep…even if it’s not great news.

If you show only your good side, you’ll get skepticism in return from today’s consumer base. Those customers will dig for the real story, and they WILL find it. Every part of your story is already out there, like it or not. Welcome to 2016.

Reveal your issues along with what you’re doing to improve, giving people an opportunity to be understanding—even forgiving. As long as you keep your customers involved, they’ll follow your progress and become invested in your mission to improve. Everybody loves a good ol’ Triumph Over Adversity story.

See how Timberland pulls back the curtain.

4. Don’t separate your stories.

Your overall brand story shouldn’t separate business, sustainability, product or cultural stories. Making “sustainability” a separate part of your company looks suspiciously like you’re jumping on a bandwagon. And, at this point, you’d be a little late to the party.

When done well, this creates your brand’s value system. Just as people want to trust who they’re investing in, they need to know they share common values. Your values play out in how you do business and how that business impacts the world, and it’s exactly what people are looking for.

Don’t wait for customers to ask about your responsible and smart business tactics. Be up front. Because your competition is probably already talking about their world-changing value system.

Subaru isn’t exactly the most fuel-efficient car on the road, but its managed to make lovers out of a growing demographic of the environmentally conscious.

5. Connect.

Clearly understand the value system your company holds and connect that system to like-minded people. That shared experience allows your company to move beyond repeat customers or even brand champions to create real believers.

Believers are people who are invested in and connecting with everything you do. They will stick with you as long as you stick to those values, stay honest, and make them feel part of your story.

See Warby Parker’s crystal-clear vision.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. You have a value system whether you like it or not.
  2. Don’t separate your sustainability story from your company.
  3. People invest in companies they trust.

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