Most people’s notion of a brand begins and ends with a simple logo. But what is a “brand” really? Why do consumers fall madly in love with one brand, paying far beyond market value for very similar goods and services, while refusing to even be seen in the company of another. What’s the difference and how can we guide our brand strategically from zero to hero before the first customer ever sees it?
The answer, of course, is that brands are a bit like humans; we form relationships with them. While a logo is important, what it represents will often be far more consequential than how pretty it is. Don’t get us wrong, if you own a high-end car dealership, it’s important that your logo matches your mystique. The value consumers place in that logo however is, by definition, emotional and understanding what’s driving it will help your brand stand for something your customers want in on.
“You have to become the company you want your customers to keep; your brand should be core to your customer’s personal aesthetic in every way.”
Defining Your Brand in Real Time
Start by defining your voice, values, and promise. They’ll inevitably act as guide posts for your ongoing marketing efforts. In today’s modern marketing ecosystem however, brands increasingly have to speak in real-time. For that, you can’t rely on prepared statements any more than you can carry on a conversation with an mannequin. In order to build a truly effective brand identity, you have to allow people to form an emotional attachment to it; in other words – make it more human.
We want to explore who your brand is, what it does for a living and why, what causes it supports, where it spends its days off, etc. Esoteric? Yes. Remember though, you have to become the company you want your customers to keep; your brand should be core to your customer’s personal aesthetic in every way. In order to grow, they should be proud to show you off.
What to Ask Yourself Before Building a New Brand
1. How do you want consumers to regard your brand?
As you progress through your positioning statement, be sure to understand the archetype you want your brand to hold in the customer’s mind. Are you the approachable, fun, lighthearted brand? The dependable and steady one? The creative company?
2. What do you want to help your customer become?
Smarter? More desirable? Healthier? We may buy products based on their pragmatic uses, but we also buy brands based on how they make us feel about ourselves. When a customer purchases your brand, it says something about them. What is it?
3. Why does your brand come to work each morning?
We often spend the most time with those who we hold shared values. This doesn’t mean that you have to express some political or religious ideals; it means that at a very high level, your brand is passionate about something.
4. What clique would your brand fit in?
Despite the negative connotations of the word “clique”, there’s a reason we have them. Cliques act as modern day “tribes”, most commonly serving to create identity based on a shared interest. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have friends outside that circle, but your clique is your core audience and the one you want to be talking to.
5. Who is your brand at a cocktail party?
This is a fun thought experiment and never fails to generate a conversation. In the age of social media and messaging apps, your ability to engage customers on the fly in real-time conversations (like those at a cocktail party) is a big part of your brand. For instance, how are you at small talk? Are you a chatty Cathy or do you prefer being a fly on the wall? Are you telling jokes or telling people about your most recent promotion?
Creating a new brand can be incredibly fun. Before your team gets started, it can make all the difference to dig in and answer a few simple questions about who your brand is. Have more questions about your next branding project? Reach out to our team and we’ll help you take the next steps.