When you think about your brand, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it your logo? Your colors? Your consistent and recognizable design style?
Nope, nope, and nope. Your branding elements are just the tip of the iceberg – or they should be. If your brand strategy stops at your logo then you don’t have a brand strategy at all. Branding is actually the process of defining your company’s identity, establishing authenticity with your target audience, and differentiating yourself from your competitors. Your brand is your language and voice. It’s the stories you tell and the experiences you create. It’s who you are. And you’re more than just a logo, right?
Start With Your Why
Okay, we know this sounds cliche, but stick with us. If your brand is who you are, then you need to get pretty clear on that before you start branding. So ask yourself: why do you do what you do? It’s not as easy as it sounds, is it?
Let’s look at an example. The Google logo is ubiquitous. We’d venture to guess that even people who don’t own a computer can recognize those primary colors at a glance. But does that tell you who Google is? No. Google’s corporate mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Their mission statement tells us what they do, but still not who they are. But we’re getting closer.
When you dig a little deeper – into their ultimate “why” Google will tell you that they are “committed to significantly improving the lives of as many people as possible.” There it is. Their products, services, initiatives, and company culture are all centered on helping people – as many people as possible.
If you aren’t sure what your “why” really is, start by asking yourself just that. What do you do? Why? When you have that answer ask again, “Why” After about five rounds of that you should have a pretty good idea of what your ultimate promise is. And your promise is your brand.
Stand Out From the Crowd
Defining your “why,” your promise, is ultimately going to help you stand out from the sea of competitors in your space. There is a time and place for competitive research, but it’s not here. Trying to model what other people are doing doesn’t make an impact. And more importantly, it’s inauthentic, and people can smell that a mile away.
The key to building and maintaining a strong brand is to put your values at the forefront of everything you do. Part of championing your values is to show your human side. People ultimately buy from people – not brands – so letting them peek behind the curtain from time to time will make you more likable and trustworthy. But what if your values or what’s going on behind the scenes isn’t going to please everyone? Bring it. When it comes to branding, big risks can lead to big rewards. You can’t be all things to all people. The purpose of a brand strategy is to decide what you bring to the table, and for who, and to own it. So while those risks might alienate a portion of your audience, they also encourage loyalty and respect from the people you think like you do.
Let’s Spin a Tale
Once you have a firm grasp on your brand it’s time to start telling stories. Why? (See, there’s that question again!) Because your brand isn’t just what you think it is, it’s what your audience thinks it is. Share stories, highlight your voice, and engage with people who think and feel like you do. Weave together facts and emotions, what you do and why you do it, and you’ll end up with a cohesive and authentic narrative that will build brand loyalty and keep your audience coming back for more. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to do this, but if you can start here for some storytelling tips.
Ready to move beyond your logo and kick off a real branding campaign? The DofM can help.