D: So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
into a “gotta have” brand?
The first question I typically ask a new client is, “What are you REALLY selling?”
A few look at me as if I’m crazy — but soon learn I have method in my madness. We’re not selling windmills, whistling lessons or wonder-bras — we’re selling the RELIEF or FEELING our customer receives from making the purchase. We want them to feel good about doing business with us.
Quite often, as with APPLE or TIFFANY or DISNEY, we are simply selling our brand essence — our brand experience — how great it makes a consumer feel to be associated with our product or service. How can you develop your Brand Essence? . . .
- BE-Lieve. Believe in your product/service and others will too. Love what you do and don’t be afraid to let it show.
- BE Giving. Be of service by offering more than your customers and staff expect.
- BE Integrated. Create brand standards and use them. Identify colors, fonts and messaging unique to your business. Again, USE them.
- BE Seen. Have a great logo? Use it. Need a new one or an update? Hire a professional to fix that for you.
- BE Heard. Know your key messaging and share with your employees and around your community. Let people know WHY you love what you do.
- BE Bold. Boldly share your visual, verbal and virtual message every chance you get. Find your niche, fill a void.
- BE Valuable. Bring value to the table. Value propositions have no value if they fall short of expectations.
- BE Committed. Follow through on your commitments to your clients, your community, and to yourself.
- BE Trusted. Establish relationships based upon trust, honesty and integrity. Trust your gut, follow your instincts.
- BE Consistent. Deliver on your brand promise. Play your strengths. Reframe your weaknesses. Respond proactively.
A good logo transcends time and a variety of media, allowing a brand to imbed itself in a community — whether your community is defined as local, regional, national or global.
Watching how global brands transcend their own iconic brands to target core audiences can help you learn to expand your own brand.
Take Nike’s latest NYC campaign:
“Painting” said Pooh, “is like humming in color”
Handing someone a generic business card or marketing piece tells them your company is . . . well, generic.
Offering well-thought-out marketing materials (from business cards to website banners) tells your audience you are excited about and proud of what you do, and want to share what you know. It doesn’t matter whether you are a financial planner or a tattoo artist, utilizing color or black-and-white — how you “paint the picture” of your business creates your visual brand.
You become memorable.
Choosing color to represent your business is much more than picking your favorite color. Different colors evoke different subliminal psychological responses. That’s why hospitals traditionally don’t use orange, yet Home Depot does.
What message does your business “hum”?
What’s YOUR Type?
Does this font make me “look big”?
Ever since Typography Class in college (yes, we spent an entire year analyzing and “designing” new fonts), the language of fonts and their subliminal messaging continues to fascinate me. Choosing the right fonts — whether for your logo, your annual report or your next book cover — sets the tone for how your business is perceived.
Traditionally, financial services have always been known to use a SERIF font from the Times Roman family to emote trust, stability, authority (as in the ING example) — but even that has changed over the years in an effort to be portrayed as less “stodgy” and more “current” (as in the US Bank example).
Own Your Own Color & Help Save a Child’s Life.
What color will YOU choose?
The process is fun and very easy – and quite affordable – starting at $1.58 (they convert from British pounds to the American dollar for you).
Check it out . . . as a gift, or in memory of your loved one . . . or simply as a clever way to help children in third-world countries.
What color are YOU?
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen . . . CAN “Spoil the Pot” and Spoil Your Brand Impact
Small business owners — especially solo-preneurs — tend to ask everyone they meet for an opinion when it comes to marketing. They fall prey to the DELUSION that the more people they ask, the more they will learn about how to market their business. Trick is . . . for every person they ask, they are guaranteed to get a different opinion, which quite often leaves the business owner even more confused.
Unfortunately, this DELUSION leads to brand DILUTION.
Avoid the Dilution of your Brand Message through Visual, Verbal and Virtual Consistency.
If you are not comfortable in making marketing decisions, hand that responsibility over to ONE trusted partner. Having one primary marketing partner to help you craft your overall brand strategy will create a clear and consistent marketing message.
- Visual Message. Scattering your design projects among several designers will do just that — scatter your image and create confusion. Develop a visual brand strategy that supports your brand message and stick to ONE professional designer that understands visual brand strategy.
- Verbal Message. There is so much more to writing marketing copy than stringing words together into a sentence. Your consumer is more likely to remember you when you have a consistent tone and message written by ONE professional writer/editor.
- Virtual Message. Not all web designers are web developers (and vice-versa). If you are lucky, you’ll find one that does both. The same goes for SEO and/or Social Media — trust ONE expert to set you up with a customized plan.
Resist the Delusion of Getting Something for Free.
Barter is not always best. Smarter is best. Everyone is on a budget and looking for ways to stretch a dollar, yet if the outcome of your “trade for services” brings about chaos and confusion with your consumer, then you have essentially gotten what you paid for (nothing), and you’ve wasted everyone’s time (which by the way, is valuable). Choose “smarter” — and make decisions based upon what is best for your brand message.
Trust Your Instincts.
At your gut level, you know what is best for your business. Learn to trust those instincts. Avoid the temptation to “collect” a cadre of disparate designers, writers and web developers — find a few key players whom you trust to help you develop your “big picture” brand and trust them to help you craft a consistent brand message. Creating a clear and consistent Visual, Verbal and Virtual message for your consumer serves to clarify and solidify your brand and strengthen your client/consumer relationships – and will cost you less in the long run.
LOGOS & COLOR
As Leatrice Eiseman executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, explains in her book Color Messages and Meanings, “While it is a given that a successful brand logo is a happy marriage of shapes, symbols and colors, it is truly the colors that evoke the emotional message.”
Many leading brands are so linked to specific hues that they are primarily recognized by their color or colors.
Think Tiffany blue, Coke red, American Express blue, Kodak yellow and red, or DeWalt black and yellow. “Tiffany Blue” is the colloquial name for the blue color associated with Tiffany & Co., the New York City jewelry company. Tiffany Blue is a specific shade of light blue; it is very similar to the blue of a robin’s egg. The color is produced as a private custom color by Pantone, with PMS number 1837. As a trademarked color, it is not publicly available and is not printed in the Pantone Matching System swatch books.
When a color and design “signature” is established, it becomes the brand identifier that reinforces the image in the marketplace. This includes print and collateral materials, websites, packaging, point-of-purchase displays, signage, as well as the product itself, creating what is termed a “total brand experience”.
To your customer, when joining your “tribe”, color becomes a subliminal part of the brand experience. Whenever they shop or seek information about your brand, color serves to reinforce your brand and helps to establish that they will receive the same quality and service across many platforms.
Brand. Identity. Imprint. Stamp.
When we get an envelope in the mail with a fancy stamp, our curiosity often prompts us to open that envelope first.
When we want to attract new business, we are really asking for a “Stamp of Approval” from our new customer. Our “brand” is our business identity . . . our unique imprint . . . our one-of-a-kind STAMP.
How do we Develop a Distinctive S.T.A.M.P.?
S = Focus on how to best SERVE our customers
T = Instill TRUST with our customers and our employees
A = Make it easy to ACCESS our business and products
M = Tailor our MESSAGE and MEDIUM to reach our audience
P = Honor our PROMISES with a commitment to excellence
Bezos, Branson & Buffet on Brand:
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
“The brand is only as good as our products, so . . .
if people have a good experience . . .
then they’ll try the next product that we launch.”
– Richard Branson
“Your . . . brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” – Warren Buffett
HOW CURRENT IS YOUR BRAND?
Staying Current. Going with the Current. Current Events. Current Status.
If you’ve been following this blog, you may recall the discussion regarding the 3 C’s of Branding:
I’m now adding a 4th “C”: CURRENCY. Not necessarily in the traditional sense of CASH — but rather in the sense of Brand Currency, AKA: Brand Current-cy . . .
Everyone knows Heinz Ketchup. But Heinz brand aficionados can also stock up on Heinz Mustard — a direct response to consumer feedback to develop product options for sandwich lovers. Heinz stayed CURRENT with consumer demand.
If your Brand defines who you are and how you and your business is perceived, how CURRENT is your Brand?
- How current is your logo, tag line and overall messaging?
- Is your current message aligned with current media?
- Are you current with your commitments — personal AND financial?
- Are you current in returning phone calls and following up with emails?
- How current is that list (or stack) of TO-DO’s?
- Are you currently addressing the needs of your consumer based upon their needs TODAY (vs. when you started your business 5 or 10 years ago)?
It doesn’t matter whether you offer consumer products or professional services, paying attention to your Brand Currency (and Current-cy) has a direct correlation to the flow of currency in your life.