On a recent trip to REI, I was on the hunt for new hiking supplies and a birthday gift. Within the first few minutes of my entering the store, the most helpful associate appeared. He guided me to the exact hiking supplies I needed. I didn’t want to push my luck, but I told him I was searching for a gift, and he showed me several bikes as a possibility. After a short discussion, we agreed that I should search for the bike on Craigslist. Then I asked him about tents. And the entire time, he was funny, kind and encouraging. This man embodied the REI brand.
REI is about “getting outside” and spending time with friends and family. The best expression of this philosophy is their “Opt Out” program. On Black Friday, REI encourages employees and customers to get outside with the people they love. In fact, they close their stores on the biggest shopping day of the year!
Marketing isn’t about being the dominant voice. It’s not about having the catchiest jingles or ads with the cutest animals. It’s about translating your company’s culture and values into messaging and experiences that reach people who appreciate those values and, in turn, become advocates for you.
And that’s what you should strive for: brand advocates, not just customers.
So how do you zero in on your own values and then share them out?
- Define what you stand for.
You have to start internally, by defining your values. A team that is unified around a set of clearly articulated values becomes a strong, consistent voice for your brand. This is a voice that reaches far beyond advertising because your team’s words and actions ring true in every customer interaction and business operation.
- Hone your messaging.
Suddenly, you have a remarkable dynamic – a mega-megaphone for your brand. But what message do you project? That’s where careful brand planning and creative execution come into play. While it may be tempting to either a) do what everyone else is doing, or b) make big, bold moves, the best thing you can do for your brand is agreed on positioning and messaging that is inspired by and encompassing of your core values.
- Make them proud.
One of the best benefits of approaching your marketing this way is that the advertising and messaging you create to reach your customers actually resonates with your employees. It becomes your internal rallying cry. It makes your team proud to come to work every day – and eager to represent your brand. It can also serve as a recruiting tool to attract more like-minded employees.
At Dotted Line, we aim to practice what we preach. As soon as you walk in our doors, you’ll see a large display that features our core values.
We give our team members culture books and our clients materials with our brand messaging.
We hire employees who value growth and excellence, just like we do. And we write content like this because we strive to help others do the same.
Lauren Sweeney is the Founder and CEO of Dotted Line Collaborations, full-service advertising and branding agency solving big brand problems from our headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. When Lauren’s not providing strategic direction for the firm or delivering amazing results for our clients, Lauren is outdoors enjoying all that Richmond has to offer or traveling to a new and exciting destination.
To read more about our firm’s recent work, visit dottedlinecollaborations.com.