Techniques to Build a Real Brand

Hey, Brand-Builders!

Most advice on brand transformation revolves around flashy CRO hacks or overused marketing tactics.

Your favorite marketing gurus love quotes like “Measure what matters” and “If you can’t measure it, it’s not worth it.”

The irony is this:

Marketers are like us.

They love brands that provide a seamless and easy experience and are authentic, have no cheap tactics, and make them feel great about the solution they are offering to the problem they are trying to solve.

But, as marketers, they wreak havoc on the customer experience for an extra few cents or a point of margin.

It’s the cognitive dissonance I see all over our industry.

Today, we're going to explore some often overlooked yet crucial elements of genuine brand-building.

Let's dive in!

  • Authenticity: It’s the New Currency

  • Brick by Brick: Building Brands Without Gimmicks

  • Between the Lines: Finding the Balance in Community Building

This week’s newsie is brought to you by Hoox!

HOOX creates landing pages, which you’ve probably heard about. But did you also realize their team handles research, strategy, copywriting, design, and development?

Their bread and butter are brands spending at least $500k/month on traffic or ads, and they’ll come in like the Best Buy Geek Squad to make sure you’re fully set up for customer acquisition success.

Why Choose HOOX? 🌟

  • Full-Funnel Marketing: Customizable landing pages address multiple customer profiles.

  • Education AND Selling: We build pages that help visitors understand your product's value.

  • User-Friendly and Fast-Loading: Easy navigation and instant loading.

  • Matching Traffic Sources: Seamless integration with ad angles and traffic sources.

  • Retention-Focused Strategies: Encourage repurchases and boost LTV.

  • Experience the HOOX difference and elevate your marketing game.

Ready for landing pages that increase AOV, ROAS, and your CFO's happiness? 😊

👉 Book a call with the HOOX team HERE

Trust HOOX for results:

Decreased customer acquisition cost
Increased click-through rate
Improved LTV

P.S. As a special gift for newsie readers from Nik Sharma (CEO @ HOOX), head over here for a free 30-page guide on creating fantastic landing pages.

Authenticity: It’s the New Currency

In the era of social media and instant communication, authenticity is no longer just a buzzword; it's the lifeblood of modern businesses.

Customers today crave genuine interactions and transparent relationships with the brands they support. They want to know the people behind the products, the stories that shaped the company, and the values that drive its decisions.

No Artificial Sellouts:

Let's start with one of the most contentious topics in the e-commerce world: artificial sellouts.

Some brands resort to declaring their products "out of stock" when, in reality, they're not.

Why? To create a false sense of urgency and scarcity, pushing potential customers to rush into making a purchase they might have otherwise deliberated on.

Sure, this might lead to a few extra sales in the short term, but what about the long term?

There's a high chance that customers, once they realize the truth, will feel duped. This is detrimental to your brand image and can result in lost trust, negative reviews, and reduced customer loyalty.

Instead, build your brand on a foundation of honesty and transparency. If a product is in stock, say it. If it's not, say it.

Transparency isn't just about being open; it's about being accountable. It's about showing your customers that they can trust you, and that you respect them enough to tell them the truth.

Tell the Whole Story:

The second element of authenticity is storytelling. You might wonder, "Isn't storytelling just another marketing strategy?" Yes and no.

While storytelling is a powerful marketing tool, it's also so much more than that.

It's a bridge connecting your brand with your customers, enabling you to share your journey, values, and vision.

But authentic storytelling is not about spinning fairy tales. It's about being real, being vulnerable, and being relatable.

It's about sharing your successes, failures, triumphs, and trials.

Take our sponsor, Hoox, for example. They're not just a landing page builder company; they're a team of creators passionate about empowering others to bring their ideas to life. Their story is not just about their product; it's about their passion, their commitment, and their dedication to their customers.

Hoox doesn't just sell landing pages; they sell dreams, opportunities, and possibilities. They don't just provide a service; they provide an experience.

They equip their customers with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to succeed. And that's what sets them apart. That's what makes them authentic.

In a world where customers are bombarded with sales pitches and promotional messages, authentic storytelling cuts through the noise.

It strikes a chord with your audience, resonates with their values, and fosters a deeper connection with your brand.

But it goes the other way as well. When you fail, share that too.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I spent four years in the luggage industry, working at a Kickstarter startup.

When I landed there in 2016, they were already close to two years delayed on the project.

Early on, as the only native English speaker, I put on a bunch of hats. Among my hat collection, two hats I wore often were CX and Crisis Management.

Throughout the delays, getting negative communication to customers promptly, effectively, and empathetically were my biggest priorities.

When we finally were close to the delivery, here is the update I shared.

Despite running out of money multiple times and being confronted with more challenges than most brands could have lived through, authenticity gave FUGU more lives than a cat.

Brick by Brick: Building Brands Without Gimmicks

We're all familiar with the flashy marketing tactics that promise instant results.

They're the equivalent of a sugar rush—quick to show results, quick to fade, and usually followed by a disappointing crash.

But building a brand isn't about quick fixes or cheap tricks. It's about fostering long-term relationships based on trust, value, and mutual respect.

Cashback Conundrum:

Cashback has been a thing with larger brands for a hot minute with Rakuten, TopCashBack, and the like.

DTC brands recently got into it, and it’s making waves, with folks seeing an increase in AOV, first-order at full price, and stronger LTV.

It's not just a discount; it's a reward. It's a way of saying, "Thank you for choosing us. We appreciate your business and want to give something back."

But the other exciting thing being touted is how so few folks actually redeem their cashback, which, contrary to how many CFOs feel about it, would bother me.

In six months, when someone is asked about your brand, they won't have the best memories if they ever remember they were offered something and did not get it.

When they reach out months later, their “redemption window is closed.”

I’d actually keep reminding customers to redeem their rewards and maybe incentivize them with a few extra few bucks if they choose store credit vs. cash.

I’d make the process easy and hassle-free. Show them you genuinely care about their experience, not just their money.

Sure, you might lose a bit of profit in the short term. But in the long run, you'll gain something far more valuable: a loyal customer who feels valued, appreciated, and engaged.

You’ll have a better chance that they actually return.

Transparent Pricing:

Let's face it, nobody likes to be blindsided, especially when it comes to coughing up more money than anticipated.

Hidden costs erode trust, breed resentment, and give your customers a bad aftertaste that even the best mouthwash of apologies can't rinse out.

So, how do we avoid this? How do we ensure that our customers don't feel like they've been tricked into a transaction?

The answer is simple—embrace transparent pricing.

No crazy additional processing fees or checkout fees, no added fees that should be baked into the product price and only pops up at checkout.

Here's a real-life example. We've all used Airbnb, right?

A great platform and fantastic concept, but one thing that often gets on people's nerves is the notorious "cleaning fee."

You book a place for a seemingly great price, and then, in the end, that pesky cleaning fee is tacked on, inflating your bill.

We all understand that cleaning is a necessary part of the service, but why not include it in the original price?

It feels like a hidden fee, a last-minute addition that disrupts the initial perception of value. As a result, customers are left with a sour taste, despite the many positives of the platform.

It’s been cool to see Airbnb finally add price transparency to their site, giving folks the full price upfront.

Transparent pricing isn't just about preventing customer frustration, though. It's also about positioning your brand as honest, straightforward, and customer-centric.

It's a long-term strategy that can differentiate your brand in today's crowded marketplace, where consumers are often overwhelmed by choice and skeptical of marketing tactics.

This approach doesn't just build trust; it cements it. It tells your customers, "Hey, we respect you enough to tell you exactly what you're paying for."

And that? That's priceless.

Between the Lines: Finding the Balance in Community Building

When it comes to brand-building, there have traditionally been two schools of thought:

  1. Focus on creating superior products and let the quality speak for itself.

  2. Invest heavily in building a community around your brand, fostering engagement and customer loyalty.

Consider Apple and Nike.

Apple, the tech giant known for its innovative and superior-quality products, has traditionally focused more on the first approach.

They've created a ”walled garden” where the focus lies heavily on the product itself. Their approach says, "Our products are so good, they speak for themselves."

Nike, on the other hand, has taken a different route. Alongside creating top-notch products, they've also invested significantly in community building.

They've fostered a strong, engaged community around their brand that goes beyond just purchasing their products.

Nike's approach says, "We're not just selling products; we're creating a lifestyle."

But here's the thing: The future of brand-building isn't a binary choice between product and community.

It's not a case of either/or; it's a case of both, but in balance.

The Pendulum Swing:

Like any other trend, the pendulum of brand-building swings back and forth, from extreme to extreme, before it eventually settles in the middle.

In the past, the focus was heavily on the product, with little regard for the customer.

Then, the pendulum swung the other way, and brands began to prioritize community building, sometimes at the expense of product quality.

We saw Outdoor Voices go extremely hard on IRL community building, even at a large monetary cost.

Quote from a former VP at OV

Now, it's time for the pendulum to find its balance.

It's time for brands to recognize that they can —and should—focus on both product and community.

Deeper Connections and Higher Needs:

Building a successful brand in today's world means targeting customers on a deeper level. It means going beyond the basic "buy our product" approach and focusing on the "jobs to be done" and how your brand can make customers feel.

It means understanding that customers aren't just buying a product; they're buying a solution to a problem.

They're buying a feeling, an experience, a sense of belonging. They're buying a step towards a higher need on Maslow's hierarchy, whether that's a sense of achievement, a feeling of belonging, or a boost in self-esteem.

The Middle Ground

So, where does that leave us? In a synthesis of the two approaches, where brands focus equally on creating high-quality products and building engaged, loyal communities.

A place where brands recognize that customers are not just revenue streams but real people with real needs and desires.

In this place, brands don't just sell products; they provide solutions. They don't just target customers; they engage with them, listen to them, and learn from them. They don't just create ads; they create value, trust, and loyalty.

And in this place, customers don't just buy products; they buy into brands. They don't just make purchases; they make connections. They don't just consume; they engage, they participate, and they belong.

“Community” does not have to cost an arm and a leg, but it should exist in a way that works for your business.

So, let's embrace this middle ground.

Let's focus on building brands that not only sell great products but also build great communities.

After all, in the end, that's what brand-building is all about: creating value, fostering connections, and making a difference.

That’s it for this week!

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!


Eli 💛