Companies are people. Not really. But sort of...
When you first meet and then get to know a person, you form feelings about them — positive and negative. Your feelings are normally influenced by their personality, right? Well, guess what...
The way people interact with companies is no different. Whether consciously or not, every business out there exudes a certain personality to the world and this personality influences how customers feel about the business and what it has to offer. As a business owner, you want to shape your company personality carefully. You don’t get too many shots to make a good impression. And as un-pc as it sounds, people DO judge a book by its cover. All. the. time.
Your brand is not your logo, tagline, or website. Sure, that’s all part of it, but it is rooted in so much more. Hate to break this to you, but your brand is not even about you, really. Your brand is the image people have of your company or product. It is what people think you are. The people control your brand. The part you do control in this, is to make your brand promise and keep it. — every single time.
What’s a brand promise, you ask? It’s the heart of your brand. And no, it’s not conveyed by your name or logo. It’s conveyed by how you act. Sure, when people think of your brand, they may see your logo in their mind’s eye, but your promise is what motivates them to seek you out. A brand promise is a value or experience your customers can expect every single time they interact with your company. In short, you need to live it.
A brand promise should be based on truth, courage, and creativity. The clearer and bolder the better. The best brand promises go big, challenge the mediocre, and connect with people on an emotional level.
Here’s a simple equation:
Customer Value + Truth + Emotion + Differentiation = Brand promise
And here is an example of a great brand promise:
FedEx — “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight”
Making a great brand promise and keeping it works. Say, you’re a regular FedEx customer and one day, your package didn’t go where it should by when it should, you might think “Weird. That’s not like them.” If it happened a couple more times, your trust in their promise would be compromised and its likely you would begin to take another look at other delivery companies. So, make a great promise and keep it!
When you want to define your brand, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions:
What problems does my brand solve?
Who are my ideal customers?
Who are my competitors?
What does my brand make people feel?
Why do my customers trust me?
What is the story behind my brand?
If my brand was a person, what would their personality be like?
Do your homework here. Learn the needs, habits, and wants of your target customers. Don’t rely on what you think they think. Find out what they think. Don’t be afraid to ask them.
Once you drill down on these questions, you can begin to make informed decisions about brand elements like logo colors and font, tagline and other marketing elements to communicate your brand’s overall story.
First, do your research and complete the groundwork to build your brand.
Get a great logo. Place it everywhere. (Unless you are a designer, don’t make your own logo. A crappy logo is going to hurt your business.)
Develop a great tagline to support your great logo. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures your brand. (See the caution above and apply it here too.)
Nail down your brand messaging. Whose problems are you solving? What do you want to communicate to them about your brand?
Integrate your brand. Extend your brands to every aspect of your business — how you connect with people at events, how you answer your phone, your social media, your e-mail signature, everything.
Create your company “voice” that reflects your brand. Your voice should be consistent and applied to all written communication, web presence, and visuals. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it highbrow? Be more formal. Is it informational? Be nerdy. You get the idea.
Create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel on everything.
Find a great SWAG company that can provide excellent quality. Icky SWAG is not anything anybody wants. Work with a pro!
Live your brand promise. People won’t return to you or recommend you to others if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.