Ernie Ross is the head of branding and innovation agency Ross | ReThink and the creator of the Intangience™ methodology.
Far too often, business owners spend all their efforts on ensuring their product or service is of the best quality possible without ever stopping to consider that value is determined by what meaning a customer attributes to what is offered.
Something only has value if it holds meaning to those who choose to acquire it. That meaning is established by understanding the intangible values relative to your brand. By understanding the intangible values associated with your product or service, you can create more meaningful connections with customers and reap the benefits along the way.
But uncovering this value doesn’t happen accidentally. Discovering the value your brand holds to consumers takes introspection, research and deep thought. Here are three ways to identify the intangible value of your business.
The Industry Of Human Relationship
Long gone are the days when a brand’s functionality and quality were the primary measures of its success. Now, consumers expect and demand a brand to stand for something more.
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Every business can easily be identified through its category of industry, whether it be entertainment, food, retail or otherwise. But do you know the industry of human relationship which defines its connection to customers?
Studying your brand’s industry of human relationship means developing profound insight into what your brand embodies as defined by its meaningful purpose to those who choose it.
For example, Nike’s industry of human relationship is self-actualization and social justice. Coca-Cola’s is shared human connection and happy gatherings.
Research has shown consumers are prepared to go further and pay more for brands that serve a greater purpose. In today’s environment, making the world a better place is not just a flattering brand ideal, it is often a brand’s raison d’être.
It’s important to look beyond the mere functionality of your business to explore where you can develop emotional connections with your consumer. This is best achieved by identifying the intangible values your brand embodies.
For example, when someone purchases a rose from a flower shop, are they buying just a flower or are they purchasing an act of acknowledgment for another person? Seeing the flower as just a flower ignores the whole industry of human relationship. Through that lens, the flower shop is in the acknowledgment business.
This way of thinking redefines the business and reframes the brand message. You’re not just selling flowers anymore, you’re offering opportunities for acknowledgment. By understanding the intangible value of the business as defined by the industry of human relationship, you can now identify new ways of expanding the business and connecting more intentionally and emotionally to customers.
Identify The Moment Of Opportunity
If you can imagine your product or service as a precise moment in time for an individual, you will understand your brand’s moment of opportunity.
When is the moment when someone most needs or desires what you offer? How is that moment created? Why does that moment exist when a consumer decides to choose your particular offering?
By exploring these questions, you will discover insights into your industry of human relationship and understand what comprises both the timeliness and emotive context within which your brand seeks to make that connection.
Discover What’s Inside The Insight
If you don’t go deeper into the reasons consumers buy your product or service, you won’t really get the full cause-and-effect picture of what drives customers to choose your brand.
For example, diamond sales are currently spiking. Why? More people are getting married. Why? After two years of confinement and separation, people are clamoring to connect meaningfully. But inside that insight, there’s something more.
The diamond is a symbol of love expressed through engagement rings. This came about when DeBeers hired ad agency N.W. Ayer in 1938 to create a campaign around this little-valued gem. “Diamonds are forever” and the gem’s embodiment of love lingers to this day, giving the stone a meaning that connects to its intangible value and in turn, its worth.
Connecting today’s spike in diamond sales to the intangible value inherent in what the gem means to consumers is to understand how value and worth are created.
Meaning is at the heart of all relationships. In the absence of meaning, there is no value placed upon anything, be it a physical asset or a human relationship. What are the hidden meanings behind the insights you gather about your connection to your consumers?
A Brand’s Value Lies In Intangible Values
While the fundamentals of business obviously still apply, it’s important to note that the old stacks and chimneys of factories are no longer the indicators of value. Today, a brand’s value rests, to a large degree, in intangible values. Meaning and purpose are the intangibles with which the modern world is trading. Invest time in understanding what your brand, product or service means to your customers, and you’ll be better able to connect to your target market in an authentic way that contributes to your business’ true worth.
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Author: Ernest Ross, Forbes Councils Member