We’re delighted Jeremiah Gardner, author of The Lean Brand ran a workshop at our recent Summercamp 2014. Jeremiah has worked with tonnes of entrepreneurs, corporates & Fortune 500s to develop top brands customers love. In this guest post he touches upon how businesses can develop passionate customers from day 1.
For years, branding has been built around one-way broadcasts using big brand artefacts like logos, colour schemes, experiences, decks, personalities, and so on. Branding used to be like an American football game – play, reset, play, reset. Today, it’s a real football (soccer for my US friends) game – constantly evolving, changing, and shifting with every passing moment.
It is clear the “waterfall” approach isn’t working in a new world of savvy, hyper-connected, and global customers. Where conventional branding tells you to zig, a lean brand zags.
Producing Passionate Customers
The end of the Industrial Age has shifted power to the consumer. Digital fabrication means the consumer now chooses the color, style, features, delivery time, and so on. While most products are not created this way, virtually all products have shifted toward that end point. It’s the epitome of a lean approach: just in time, on demand manufacturing.
It makes sense, then, the relationships formed between an audience and an organisation (brand) must also shift in this direction. Great products produce satisfied customers, but for scalability and sustainability, organisations must produce passionate customers. This is done by forming a relationship around shared value with your audience.
It can’t be artificial or based on a linear one-way broadcast any longer. Instead, you have to work to discover a shared aspiration, invite customers to be part of the story and to join your quest to make change. This is what Lean Brand development is all about.
Discover The Value
Lean branding helps you discover the value that’s being created and for whom that value is being created based on iterative cycles of development.
It’s about finding the narrow point where people have their most passionate interaction with your brand, and keep improving that with laser-like focus. This isn’t something broad or bland, like, “excellent customer service.” This is the little thing you do that no one else can do. When consumers think of any brand, when they think of it at all, it’s by a single attribute you can enhance, but not create. For Apple it’s the swipe. For Chipotle it’s the stations to choose your own ingredients. For Gatorade, it’s dumping it over coaches. It’s the thing that, when you hear it, you know exactly what brand you’re talking about.
Through a process of solidifying your assumptions into value hypotheses, you can learn to experiment with your hypotheses to find validated learning in a “live” environment. To do so, center development around a Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop asking three simple questions:
1) What do you need to learn?
2) How will you measure?
3) What do you need to build at a minimum level to run an experiment?
Start by entering the loop as quickly as possible with your first Minimum Viable Brand (MVB). Your MVB distills the relationship between you and your audience down to its most meaningful elements: story, artefact, and invitation.
If an element in your MVB works, keep it and prepare it for scale. If it falls flat, iterate and test again. Validation is demonstrated by business growth. The MVB is the vehicle to discover a foundation for growth and every iteration to your MVB merits another round of experimentation.
Ultimately, Lean Brand development helps you make better, faster branding decisions. Vastly better, faster branding decisions. Bringing principles from lean manufacturing and agile development to the process of brand innovation, the lean branding will help you form passionate customers in a business landscape riddled with risk.
About The Author:
Jeremiah Gardner is the author of The Lean Brand. He works with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and Fortune 500s to help them discover, iterate, and develop their brands. Jeremiah is an author, speaker, Lean Brand practitioner, and bulldog lover. His work is about helping people reframe the way they think about brand development, culture, creativity, and leadership. Reach him @JeremiahGardner