When we talk about branding, we tend to talk a lot about marketing. We talk about logos and colors and persona and promises — all elements of how we present ourselves. Those elements are obvious crucial elements of any discussion about branding, and those conversations are important to a company’s growth.
That said, there are other factors that impact the actual form of your brand. Just as a person is not defined as what they wear or how they look, your brand persona is based on much more than an aesthetic. Understanding those elements of your brand will help you improve your marketing and sales efforts tremendously. Let’s get started.
What You Do
This might sound like a silly inclusion for this list, but hang with us for a second. It’s incredibly important when building a brand to make sure whatever persona you’re crafting aligns with what you actually do.
The presentation of different services and products in specific markets often comes with timeless expectations. A departure from said expectations can be a risky endeavor. A financial adviser, for instance, who brands him or herself as a rockstar who likes to party is probably not going to get very far. Even potential customers who generally respond well to such brands might be uncomfortable with the cognitive dissonance involved there.
To be sure, there is value in standing out from the crowd. The key, however, is making sure you stick out in a meaningful way. Market research, competitive analysis, and audience assessment have to be a part of your branding strategy. The prettiest brand in the world can’t save you if it isn’t relevant.
How Well You Do What You Do
Marketing is just a promise.
Say it with me now.
Marketing is just a promise.
If you can’t deliver on that promise, you’re toast. Your word is your bond with consumers, and they don’t take well to empty talk. No amount of slick design and catchy copy can save you if you’re not able to provide an experience with your product and service that aligns with the positive experience of interacting with your brand prior to purchase.
On the other hand, providing exceptional value to your customers is a surefire way to bolster your brand’s image. If you pair a solid aesthetic with a solid value proposition, the value associated with your brand is more potent. It becomes synonymous with who you are, and that says a lot more than a pixel perfect website.
Who Buys From You
Your customer base plays a central role in how your brand presents. Much ado is made of what you want them to hear when we talk about brands, but less is said about how they will ultimately contribute to the brand’s presentation. That’s a mistake. Even when your branding aligns with industry expectations, you’ve got to think about how your specific subset of customers within that industry align with the branding efforts you’re making.
Your brand is only as good as the company it keeps. If the company you attract to your customer base does not align with the values your brand wants to be associated with, that company can put off those who you seek to engage.
At such a juncture, a decision has to be made. Do you tweak your branding to appeal to your original target audience, or do you lean into the current attention and hone your brand to appeal to your existing audience? If you want to be a brand that’s viewed as progressive, for instance, but you’ve attracted a great deal of more conservative or traditional customers, you can either become bolder in your articulation of progressive values in order to attract customers who support your core values or start coloring your brand to match the personality hues of those who already like it.
One way or another, though, you’ll need to make a call to foster sustainable growth. Staying put in the middle means you’re stuck with the middle, and folks in the middle are rarely the loudest in the bunch. Without those loud voices, your word of mouth opportunities are stymied, and positive perceptions can be drowned out by rowdy opposition on both sides of a spectrum.
Who Works For You
Yes, having a brand persona is important. But at the end of the day, that persona is backed by real life human beings whose choices, behavior, attitude, and rhetorics can quickly tarnish or boost perceptions of your brand. As such, your company culture plays a substantial role in how your brand is perceived.
Does that mean you should only hire people who are exactly like you or your outlined brand persona? Of course not. A variety of perspectives and thought processes on your team makes you better at the end of the day. But you should certainly make sure that your team believes in the product or service being sold, and is committed to the sort of experience you seek to create.
Remember: your team members are just as much a steward of your brand as those specifically designated to create it. You wouldn’t be cool with a teacher who doesn’t like kids heading your child’s classroom. You shouldn’t be cool with a team that doesn’t believe in your mission contributing to your brand.
Image Source: Carlos Arias
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