Picking up on last week’s post about why branding matters, I welcome back Jay Hiltz, Partner & Creative Director, Kohoot Media. Jay is the creator of The Phone Lady logo. Its vibrant colours and friendly, phone-focused attitude has contributed immeasurably to the growth of this company over the past 10 years, leaving me firmly convinced that branding matters – not only as it relates to design, but to everything we do to build and support our businesses.
As Jay and I get ready to launch my new brand in 2016, Telephone Talent Inc., I’ve asked him: “What, exactly, does “brand” include?” Here are his thoughts:
During my career as a Creative Director, people tell me they need a new brand when what they are actually talking about is their logo. This is a common misconception. It’s true that your visual identity plays an important role in your brand because it receives a high level of public exposure. If successful, it is one of the first things people will remember when thinking about your business. Your logo is like bling for your brand, but a powerful brand consists of more than a memorable icon.
Companies like Apple, Mercedes, Dyson and Instagram didn’t become internationally recognized because one day people decided they were cool. Behind each of these names are the unseen sweat, tears and 3 am panic attacks of a cracker-jack marketing team building a powerhouse brand strategy with their client. Clear value, mission, vision and brand promise statements, supported by an understanding of the target audience, is essential.
Your brand is your company’s personality and represents your values and promise to clients. It tells your customer why they should buy your product or service and what type of experience they can expect. Some brands are successful at creating the perception that there is no other product or service available quite like their’s.
Developing your brand, and reaching its full potential, starts by having your entire organization understand and endorse finely tuned value, mission, vision and brand promise statements. These are the backbone of your brand and the filter for every decision.
Borrowing from BrandSavvy: your vision is your ultimate dream; your mission is how you’ll achieve your aspirations; [and] your brand promise is the positive difference you’ll deliver along the way. A brand promise can often become your tagline. One of my all-time favourites is “Melts in your mouth, not your hands.” Recognize it? M&M’s cleverly states what the product will do and how they are positioning themselves from other candy in the market.
Last week I was writing new content for a website. The company is 10 years old and has a solid grasp of its vision but has never written anything down. After struggling on direction and appropriate language, I went back to the basics. I needed those brand statements to bring focus. Once I had the backbone I was able to dress the skeleton.
Defining and understanding your audience and their behaviours is paramount. It’s nice to think that your audience is “everyone”, but I’ll tell you it’s not.
The language used to engage a couple starting their family will not resonate in the same way with a senior couple well into retirement. If you can’t invest in significant research, there are resources available to provide you with current demographic information.
Another way to gain insight is through tools you are currently using. For example, craft a series of test posts with your Facebook followers to see which ones gain more traction. Change up the content, try asking questions and post during different times in the day. You’ll quickly learn when your audience is online and what resonates with them. This knowledge allows you to communicate more strategically and effectively and helps you build your brand.
As brands grow they become more complex. Developing consistent brand vocabulary, brand imagery and a tone of voice for how your brand will sound on different channels helps establish brand recognition. A strong brand signals that you want to build customer loyalty, that you are serious about your business and that you will be here for your customers for the long term.