Social Media Strategy

Creating and Curating: How to Design a Brand that Acts as a Filter

badge guest post FLATTER Creating and Curating: How to Design a Brand that Acts as a FilterEver feel crippled by indecision?

Where should we eat?

What should we do?

Many times, this cycle is broken when somebody in the group suggests a familiar restaurant. It’s a situation marketing and psychology expert Robert Cialdini calls a “paralysis of analysis”:  times when the complexity of our world overwhelms our decision-making ability.

When the options are overwhelming, people rely on brands to filter decision-making — even if that doesn’t lead to the best choice. How do these preferences form, and how can you build a brand that people default to when it’s time to buy?

Forming Brand Preference

Brand preference begins early in life, when parents act as your filter. My dad used Old Spice cologne, and that’s probably why I use the company’s body wash and deodorant.

My parents preferred to drive Hondas. My first two cars were Hondas.

As kids gain experience and exposure, they begin to form their own opinions about brands. Your friend swears his dishwashing liquid is better than the generic. You fall in love with the cheap car you bought when you were in college.

We merge those life experiences with existing preferences to create new filters that influence our purchases.

Understanding how people experience the world can help you design an experience that will make your brand the filter consumers use to navigate a complicated world.

Simplify Customer Experiences

Brands should make life simpler, so some retailers are going further to streamline customer experiences.

CVS redesigned its stores based on data about what customers were buying at each location. In the suburbs, where consumers primarily purchase health and beauty products, CVS placed those products in optimal locations so shoppers could easily find what they needed.

Clothing retailer Shopbop found that men were less likely than women to make returns. To ensure male customers are happy with their purchases and don’t encounter barriers to making returns, Shopbop is simplifying returns by including packing tape with online purchases from its new men’s line, East Dane.

Before, During, and After

Shopbop, like many successful brands, thinks about the customer’s experience before, during, and after the purchase. Before the purchase, there’s advertising, the website user experience, and calls to action. For retailers, there’s the checkout, email confirmation, shipping, and unpacking. Unfortunately, after the purchase, there’s often radio silence, followed by email marketing.

If you’re going to become the brand people use as a filter, it’s time to evaluate the entire customer experience.

Does your advertising attract the right people?

During the purchase cycle, are you wowing customers or frustrating them?

Every touchpoint, from beginning to end, is an opportunity to delight.

People post videos of themselves opening Apple products because they’ve created an awesome experience with their packaging. Think about how you can continue to exceed expectations and charm your customers. Need some inspiration? Take a note from Urban Daddy on email marketing: their copywriting makes readers feel like a cross between James Bond and a trust fund baby. You feel cool for having read it, even if it’s a sponsored material. Every touchpoint matters.

Leverage Your Reputation

You can’t be all things to all people. Instead of trying to manufacture products outside their expertise, many smart brands are leveraging their reputations by curating a selection of items.

J. Crew stores now carry handcrafted Red Wing boots. Instead of thinking, “We can do that better,” they thought, “How can we enhance the experience by offering the shopper something he wants?” Trust in products can be transferred, and brands are now creating this connection.

An online retailer with a unique approach to curation is Cloak & Dapper, a men’s shop that offers a limited selection of high-quality items. Instead of filling their virtual store with a variety of items, hoping you’ll find something you like, they’ve done the shopping for you. Cloak & Dapper is becoming a filter for its customers, providing the single best version of certain items a man needs.

Companies that want to complement products in their wheelhouse are discovering it’s best to find somebody who does it better. Focus on what you do best, and explore partnerships that add value.

Become the Filter

As the world faces “paralysis of analysis,” your brand can become a memorable, visible beacon in a sea of confusion. Become that preferred filter by simplifying your customer experience, designing a delightful brand experience at every touchpoint, and leveraging a good reputation.

  • Skaled

    I love this concept. It got me thinking about the many filters in my life that have affected my purchases, from the brands my parents stocked our fridge with growing up to the apps I’ve heard about through friends and began using religiously. The process of being sold on a product does not have to be a sneaky or obtrusive one. Experiencing brands through filters can be a delightful experience for consumers if they’re positioned in a thoughtful way.

    • Mark Kinsley

      You nailed it. The experience should be DELIGHTFUL. That word is being thrown around a lot lately and I’m glad because it captures a feeling that needs to be part of the purchase.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    The limitation of choice definitely helps me. There’s no arduous process of sorting through every option they have, but rather focusing on the few available. Since the searching process is shortened and anything you could buy is on one page, it feels sort of obvious to make a purchase.

    • Mark Kinsley

      Absolutely agree Sarah. Tastemakers should consolidate choices, making your life easier. And if those brands can find their target audiences, I think the likelihood of a purchase skyrockets. Thanks for the comment!

  • Sarah Bauer

    It’d be awesome to see this concept applied in partnerships between brands and influencers. Imagine product selections curated by trusted figures related to the brand’s industry, published across formats such as blog posts, Pinterest galleries, videos, and online store pages. So many opportunities to persuade and connect with audiences that appreciate an enhanced, yet clearly defined, overview of products or services.

    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Kelly Pfeiffer

    Thanks for writing this article – really made me stop and think so I can outline the client’s experience.

  • Avani

    Lovely segmentation of a perfect way to market, if you have anything specific to digital media marketing, please do share