How One Brand Can Appeal To Different Customers

Mark Di SommaFebruary 2, 20163 min

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Robert, a Director of Brand Strategy from New York, New York asks this about how one brand should address different needs and mindsets for different customers.

“We have built a strong brand across customer segments, but oftentimes these segments have very different needs/mindsets – sometimes conflicting mindsets. How can we appeal to both without diluting brand equity? Is it possible?”

The clear inference from your question, Robert is that different groups of people see very different things in your brand. I assume too that whatever they see pleases them and that trading across these different segments is healthy and profitable.

Many brands have this situation. Take Volvo for example which uses the same brand across its car and truck divisions, even though the audiences (and the value propositions) are very different.

So, how should you reconcile these different audience groups? Answer: You probably shouldn’t – at least not directly, because trying to coerce different audiences into a single customer demographic will inevitably see you reaching for the lowest common denominator, and that will alienate many, confuse everyone, and convince the majority that your brand is not what they thought it was.

Instead I would look to do two things. Firstly, instead of reaching down to find commonality, I would look to take a helicopter view. Pull back from the immediate focus of your operations to identify a concept that ties everything you do together. In other words, give your brand an all-embracing purpose. For example, Google sees its role as making the whole world findable. That purpose permeates and directs everything they do. In the case of Volvo, that uniting idea is safety.

Then, once you’ve found the common idea that the brand always answers to, look at how it can be applied to each of your customer segments. What “interpretation” of that idea is valued by each customer segment? Doing this will enable you to nuance the marketing of your brand to each customer segment in ways that feel valuable and relevant to them without compromising the effectiveness of your brand as a whole.

If your customers are not in different sectors – for example, if they are all B2C – separating customer groups this way may also enable you to build cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. For example, if one of your customer segments is value-based, you can build migration paths to coax some of them towards a premium segment.

The only time when you may have to make an either/or decision about which customer segment to focus on is if the actions and attitudes of one of your customer groups are directly and detrimentally affecting your brand equity and therefore your brand’s ability to progress. This doesn’t sound like a situation you face but it is worth noting.

Trust that helps Robert. Thanks for your question.

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