Corporations may not be people, friends, but many brands have come to represent all sorts of human qualities in the eyes of consumers.
Brands have been around a long time. (Think of the individualized hand marks on Paleolithic cave paintings, and of the symbols makers have burned, engraved and molded into their products since the first civilizations.)
Beyond ownership, those proto-brands soon came to denote the quality and reliability of the products that carried them.
The values a brand communicates have grown more abstract and complex since the Industrial Revolution and the development of modern media. The history of a company, the products it produces, the markets it serves, its treatment of its workers and the communities where it operates, its political and charitable donations — all these factors and more inform public perception of its brands.
And when a brand draws on these factors to address a topic of common interest with its customers, it’s expressing a point of view, driving towards a shared belief, deepening the connections.
POV: It’s not about you, it’s about them
The first thing to remember about a brand POV: It’s not expressly about the brand.
Brands have plenty of tools to explore what it thinks about itself, and these tools are great for creating marketing decks and products and banner ads. What they’re not great at is helping the brand have a POV about topics out in the world.
For example, a brand has a logo, but a POV is different from a logo. A logo is simply a signifier of the brand’s existence — like a hat for a cowboy.
A brand may have brand values, but a POV is different from brand values. Brand values are aspirational adjectives. They’re how you’d like your brand to be known — like a dating profile.
A brand may have guidelines for tone and voice, but POV is different from tone and voice. Tone and voice are more performative etiquette than personal philosophy — like knowing the Queensbury Rules, but never throwing a punch.
And a brand may have guidelines, but a POV is different from brand guidelines. Brand guidelines are systems for how to think about the perception of the brand, rather than a way for the brand to perceive the world outside itself.
No POV is an island
A POV is about having an opinion or set of opinions about things that are not your product. It takes a strong brand to take a stand.
The more authority you have to advocate those opinions, the more interesting and trenchant those opinions, the more those people will listen. A POV establishes the rules of the brand conversation.
But a POV is not a sales pitch. Not directly. The utility of that point of view is not to capture dollars by selling a thing. The utility of that POV is to capture attention by selling an idea adjacent to that thing.
Having a POV doesn’t mean capturing market territory; it means creating it.
How to create your POV
Activating a brand’s POV requires you to identify a topic with which your brand and your audience share a common interest.
And so, you have to ask yourself some questions.
- What’s your goal?
- What’s your brand’s area of expertise?
- Who’s your audience?
- What topics speak to your audience’s desires/interests?
To form a more perfect POV, we find this chart helps align brands’ expertise with customers’ interests.
Like the best things in life, the best POVs shouldn’t be forced. That’s not to say it’s easy to take a stand — there’s always the chance you’ll alienate the audience you want to win — but in the right hands, a strong POV will strengthen your brand’s connection with its audience. We hope our handy guide will help eliminate some of the risk and give you the confidence to share your POV with conviction.