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Every piece of marketing you produce should reinforce your brand values – from the design choices to the selection of messaging and copy, each element should reinforce the brand values in the mind of the customer.

Most business either disregard brand values as being hippy nonsense or they pay it only lip service. However, we believe that’s one reason why most marketing is ineffective.

As we only have, on average, three seconds to capture the attention of customers when they see a piece of our marketing, we need to use every communication tool available to get our message across. Relying on copy alone is a mistake – we need to use visual tools as well, especially as the part of the brain that processes visual elements operates faster than the part of the brain that processes language. This is critical for positioning the company in the minds of the customer.

It is important, though, to be clear in our own minds about what we want our brand to stand for.

What business are you really in?

It’s important to always remember that people aren’t interested in buying a product or service. They’re interested in the benefit that comes from buying, not the product or service itself.

Take, for example, the Apple brand. What does it stand for? Computers? Phones? iTunes? Watches? It isn’t about the products that they sell or the services they provide – their brand is about a passion for making consumer-friendly technology, or, as Steve Jobs once put it “We want to stand at the intersection of computers and humanism.” They stand for beautiful and functional design. They are in the business of providing aesthetically pleasing experiences with technology. You could also argue that they sell a cooler self-image.

Charles Revlon understood the concept fully when he said, “In the factories we make perfume but in the stores we sell hope”. Revlon understood he wasn’t selling bottles of perfume but something much more powerful.

To determine what benefits you are really selling, we go through the following simple exercise.

We ask ourselves: Why do people buy your product or service? Note: it’s important to remember that people buy solutions to problems, not businesses. So we need to think primarily about the benefits to the individual/s making the purchasing decisions.

When you have that answer, ask this question: Why is that important?

Once you have your answer, ask it again. Why is that important?

Ask this question five times and you will begin to get to the heart of what you are really selling.