What Makes a City or Brand Stand Out Above the Noise?
If you’ve seen any of my marketing vlogs on YouTube before, you know I’m a big fan of observation decks. This is where the story of a city comes to life before your eyes. Any city that doesn’t currently have an observation deck needs to get on it now!
I love visiting observation decks, but I also like to use them as an example when I’m talking about branding with clients. It puts the idea of “standing out above the noise” into perspective (and perspective is not hard to get when you’re hundreds of meters up!)
An observation deck literally stands out above the “noise” of a city skyline. It draws the eye despite the thousands of other buildings nearby. Most importantly, it attracts people who have come across the world just to stand there and look out over a city, taking the experience in from thousands of feet above the ground.
When I was in Toronto, I visited the CN Tower to get the full experience of the city and I was not disappointed. Here are some of the marketing observations I made while I was there.
Use History to Your Advantage, Not Novelty
When it comes to building a brand, novelty is not enough. First off, it’s fleeting. You might get those few thousand visitors to your website because it’s brand-new, but once that sheen of newness wears off, you need to keep people coming in the door.
When it was built, the CN Tower was the tallest building in the world. But that didn’t last forever, and now that the initial novelty has worn off, why do 1.9 million people keep going every year?
History. They’ve heard other people talk about their experiences. They’ve seen it in movies, TV shows, photos, magazines, on Pinterest, etc. It’s become an icon because it has a strong sense of history. As I was going up the CN Tower, I got to listen to that history and it became part of my experience of the city. It’s an icon, not just in Canada, but across the world.
Every brand has to do the same thing, but online. You can expect some initial interest from your inner circle and their network when you start up on your social media platforms, but the only way to build a history that keeps people coming back (or bringing their friends and family) is by posting regularly.
If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that effort comes before engagement. Creating a history for your brand takes time, patience, and persistence.
Create a Unique Story in Your Niche
As brands build out their history, they’re also building out a unique brand story. I’ve visited a lot of observation decks in cities across the world, and all of them have something different to offer. It’s those differences that give people a new perspective on a city (in other words, a new experience of the city’s brand).
When I visited the CN Tower, there were some distinct features that stood out to me. The glass was clean, there was no time limit, there were seating areas and glass floors, and they lit the tower up at night for a different day/night experience. Everywhere I looked, people were having fun, relaxing, and enjoying the experience. Plus, there were different experiences built into one. I didn’t do the EdgeWalk, but I went up to what is the tallest observation point in North America. That made the experience even more unique for me. It made it stand out. And no, the CN Tower is probably not my favourite observation deck, but it was still a very impactful part of my experience of Toronto.
Extend Your Organic Reach
Selling is losing. I can’t say it enough. When you go into an observation tower in any city, they’re immediately going to try to sell you on the photos. Don’t do this with your brand!
Get people in by offering unlimited value, no matter what your price point is. Sure, the CN Tower was crazy expensive, but by offering people a day-long outing (with different daytime and nighttime experiences), plus a lot of room to lounge and relax, it made it worth the money. And the reality is, the place was packed. The experience is so important to people that they will pay for it, even if it’s absurdly out of their price range. That’s an important takeaway for any brand to remember.
Your organic content is built on an experience. When you create an experience that makes people feel connected to your brand, more people will stop by to enjoy it. And the more that happens, the more search engines will take notice and rank your content higher. It’s a winning cycle that’s fueled by value. So take the example of the CN Tower and build it into your brand content as soon as possible. Create that sense of history and experience and people will come.