Your Brand Has Gravity

An alternative metaphor to the marketing funnel

Marketing is typically described as a funnel that has a wide array of interactions at the top. All interactions guide potential customers down towards the bottom of the funnel where a sale occurs. This analogy is fine but it assumes that a customer makes their way towards a sale and then you’ve reached your goal. We’ve come up with an analogy that better describes the continuing interactions that you need to have with your customers in order to leverage your brand to its fullest.

We prefer to think of a brand as having a natural inward force, like gravity. There can also be outward forces pushing people away from your brand. Whether you realize it or not, people are drawn in or pushed away by interactions with your brand and some of those forces may be unintentional.

We may be naturally attracted to certain brands because they align (or appear to align) with our values. Apple is aligned with design-sense and progress. Subaru is aligned with an outdoor lifestyle. Value alignment is an example of an inward force that a strong brand exerts on all who drive by a dealership, watch a commercial, or visit a website.

Where the marketing funnel analogy works is that certain interactions are closer to the desired outcome with a customer than others. Someone who simply drives by a billboard has interacted with your brand but it’s a fairly weak interaction and they’re not likely to exit the freeway and buy your product if they’ve never heard of you before. Other interactions, such as a phone conversation with a sales person have a much more likely outcome of conversion. The tradeoff is that the interaction with the sales-person is a more costly interaction than a billboard view so you’d like to not waste your money with more costly interactions on people who are unlikely to buy your product or service.

We prefer to think of these interactions as orbits around the natural gravity that your brand has. The closer you are to the center, the more gravity has an effect. It’s a recognition that people move in and out of close interactions with your brand. One month they may be very close if they’ve just purchased your product. Two years later they may not think about your brand at all. Strong brands are able to keep customers in a closer orbit so that, when the timing is right, they can be closer to your brand to purchase your product or service.

A strong brand orbit starts with a strong brand. This may sound obvious but it’s the thing that many companies and organizations don’t put effort into. There is a natural pull to a brand that you align with. But how can you know if you align with a brand if you don’t know what they stand for? Unless it’s clear what a company or organization does, how they do it, or why they do it then they’re just an entity that exists in the world that people drift by. Once you can be known by others then a natural gravity towards your brand exists.

Once your brand has gravity then you can start to apply some inward pressure to the orbit. That way people on the very outside have more of a chance of being pulled into some level of interaction with your brand, whether it’s following you on social media, reading a blog post, talking to a friend, or visiting your website. If people aren’t able to establish a connection with you once they are in closer proximity then they will move away so make sure you’ve done the work of creating a brand with gravity before you begin to invest in any kind of marketing effort.

How do I establish orbits around my brand?

It starts by getting to know your existing and potential customers. What are their characteristics, behaviors, and values? Find the points of connection between their values and behaviors and those of your company or organization.

Next, begin to define the interactions your potential customers can have with your brand and rank them according to weak, medium, or strong interactions. This ranking should consider both the likelihood of conversion at this stage as well as the cost of the interaction. Costly interactions should be very likely to result in a conversion. Use the insight gained from getting to know potential customers and make sure that you’re speaking to them where they hang out. Don’t waste money on magazine ads if they’re consuming information online. Experiment with new places to talk to your customers and continually evaluate if they’re receiving your message.

Finally, make sure that there is a clear path from one point of interaction to another. If you’ve established strong communication on a particular social media platform, make sure you’re continually pushing people to the next inner orbit (which might be your email marketing list). The goal is not just to keep them in their current orbit, but to bring them closer. Find ways to reward people for moving to a closer orbit.

This is a process that takes work

Establishing brand gravity is a continual process that takes time. Don’t expect that there is a cure-all service that’s going to immediately provide you with loyal customers. You’re going to have to work at each orbit through consistent and effective interactions. You’re also going to have to continually revisit your brand to make sure that it’s clearly communicating values and personality to potential customers.

Want some help?

We’re always happy to help and we provide services or partner with people that can help at each stage of the game. Give us a shout if you want to talk further about how you can develop your brand gravity.


About the Author

Pete Larson - Director of Digital Strategy + Principal

Pete has 18+ years of experience concepting and delivering digital products or experiences to successful brands. He's passionate about helping brands establish authentic online presences that flow from their company's core purpose.

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