What is a brand?
When you hear the word “brand,” most people immediately think logo. Your brand is more than a logo – it’s who you are, how you are viewed by consumers and those consumers’ experience your company. It provides an anchor from which to set customer expectations and communicate your message clearly to your audience. If consumers couldn’t see your logo on a marketing material, would they still know who it’s coming from?
Part of what makes a strong brand is its voice, which consumers should recognize and identify immediately. The brand voice is not just what you say, it’s the attitude, personality and look and feel of your company.
Look at Lagunitas Brewery’s About Us page on their website states:
This is an about page for a brewery and for a beer, or whatever. We guess that it speaks to the idea of whatever people want to think we are or aren’t or should or shouldn’t be but, after all, it’s just about trying to sift through the incessant nonsensical mumble of it all. An then there’s you, oh noble visitor, trying to interpret it all. What about us? Here are some words: spackle, crane crepuscular. Do they mean any? Sure. Is it relevant? Mumbles, mostly blather in a wasted attempt of how we came to be, but no one reads anymore right? At least, except for You. ThankYouVeryMuch.
No, we didn’t bold those words for emphasis – they’re actually highlighted on their site. Notice the tone, voice and attitude in this passage. This exemplifies Lagunitas’ quirky, laid-back, fun brand, even without seeing the logo and tagline – Beer Speaks, People Mumble.
How do you create your brand?
Creating your brand begins with discovering who you are, what feelings you want to elicit when people experience your brand and how you want to position the company within the market. This is done by determining your brand attributes, which represent the core values of the company. These key themes represent the essence of the brand and clearly describe aspects and qualities of the organization. Ask yourself these questions to get started in creating your brand attributes:
- What are the defining qualities of your business, its mission and team?
- What’s special about your products or services? What sets you apart from your competitors?
- What’s unique about the way you do business?
- What is distinctive about your company culture and talent?
- How do you want to be regarded by your customers and community?
- What values do you find important and want all staff to live and breathe?
Answering these questions will help develop your brand promise. This is a simple one- or two-sentence statement that describes your organization’s essence and purpose. This is similar to your elevator speech that allows you and your employees to internalize and communicate your brand in a similar way. Everyone will speak from the same page with a similar message. The goal is to express your beliefs and your intention toward the customer experience in a concise and meaningful way. The brand promise is not a tagline, but a statement of your value and promise to the consumer. You shouldn’t have to communicate this directly to consumers, they should feel and experience it in all that you do.
Putting it all together
Now that you have your attributes and promise, put it all together to create your brand.
The Promise – What you as an organization promise to deliver to your customers
The Experience – What your customers can expect when they interact with you
Identity – The logo, color palette, look and feel, and imagery
Value Added – The cherry on top when you get your engaged customers to serve as brand champions
Look at L.L. Bean, the family-friendly outdoor clothing/activity retailer, as an example.
The Promise – “At L.L. Bean, we design products that make it easier for families of all kinds to spend time outside together. Join us and Be an Outsider.”
The Experience – Exceptional customer service, lifetime returns
Identity – Recognizable logo, brand essence and imagery; “Be an Outsider”
Value Added – Customers promote products and the brand via social media
What does this mean for you?
Your brand should be reflected in everything your company does, including:
- Leadership/Staff – actions, language, uniforms, etc.
- Collateral – Packaging, brochures, business cards, swag, menus, etc.
- In-store experience
- Digital presence – website, email communications, social media, etc.
Establishing your brand is a fundamental step in achieving your business goals. A strong brand infused into all parts of your company means every customer, no matter who they talk to or what they see, will have a consistent and exemplary experience; therefore, creating brand loyalty and repeat customers. Your brand promotes recognition, sets you apart from your competitors, helps customers know what to expect and is an overall representation of you.