Live from NEMOA: Why Your Brand Should Be Like Elvis

Boston—Do you want to make your brand relevant in today’s mercurial consumer market? Then set yourself apart. Find one simple truth. Specialize. Be consistent. And be original.

During his March 10 NEMOA session, “Is Your Brand Still Relevant in a Changing World?” Brent Niemuth, creative director/brand evangelist for consultancy J. Schmid & Associates referenced the genesis of Elvis Presley’s career.

When an 18-year-old Presley walked into the Memphis Recording Service in July 1953, the manager Marion Keisker asked him who he sounded like. The future music icon responded: “I don’t sound like nobody.”

The message to today’s marketers: Set yourself apart from the pack. “Nobody likes copycats,” Niemuth said.

Just 20% of all brands have a relevant or differentiating message, Nieumuth said, and 21,000 new brands are introduced each year. More than half of them fail.

Consumers are bombarded by between 4,000-5,000 marketing messages every day, “so we’re competing for their time and attention,” he noted. “The new consumer is time-starved. They’re less trusting and more community oriented with social media like Facebook, and Twitter. “

The answer? You have to stand apart in a crowd, say something that matters, Niemuth said. “You have about three seconds to get your message across. This is more vital today than ever.”

One problem, Niemuth said, is that companies are too focused on reaching customers via social media. “Don’t be so obsessed with getting on Facebook,” he advised the audience: “Focus your attention on what you want to say to the folks.”

To find a differentiating brand benefit, a company must focus on three elements, Niemuth said: It must be important to the consumer; you should be uniquely suited to delivering it; and it should be something your competitors are not addressing.

For example, GEICO Insurance sets itself apart with unique branding elements — Mallory the GEICO gecko, the GEICO Caveman, and its popular tagline, “Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

A few other tidbits: Always lead with one thing, and assume you’re trying to sell to a fourth-grader, Niemuth said. Keep in mind that “a single, truthful message is a funnel to run things through,” he added. “Look at your marketing messages. Look hard at all your channels and be critical.”

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