– Brian Solis
Without defining experiences, brands will become victim to whatever people feel and share. In an always-on world where everyone is connected to information and to one another, the total customer experience is your brand.
Great products and services are not enough to win in business. Creative marketing and delightful customer service are no longer good enough to succeed.
It’s crucial to know that your brand is the complete story of what you want to communicate about your organization and the perception you leave in the hearts and minds of your audience.
That’s why before you even think about creative, design, logos, or marketing – you must have clarity on what your brand stands for.
Here are 5 key elements that define your brand DNA.
Before you can create a strong successful brand that truly engages your audience, you need to identify your “why.”
Why you choose to do what you do?
Why do you exist?
Why do you matter?
What is your WHY? … it’s what defines you, before you even define your logo. The most powerful brands in the world do not succeed because of what they do or how they do it – but first and foremost, because of WHY they do what they do. Think of Nike, Coca-Cola or Apple.
Your brand purpose is your rally cry, your passion and reason for being.
It’s the powerful force that motivates your team, your entire organization, and your greater audience to become a part of your bigger brand story.
All of your marketing efforts should start with the why, then explain how you do it, and finally, what it is that you do. The core values your brand stands for is also a part of your brand purpose.
What is your industry/category/specific market?
Who is your audience?
What sets you apart so you can tell a different story to your audience that is unique to your organization’s purpose.
In our noisy and chaotic business landscape, your number one goal is to stand out and claim your unique space in the hearts and minds of your target audience, (also known as your target market).
There are 3 questions that you must answer to establish your unique point of differentiation to make your brand the go-to choice vs the alternative.
1. What is the exact category that my brand is in?
It’s absolutely imperative to understand what market territory you intend to own, where the opportunities are, and what are the gaps you can fill. Be extremely open and flexible to the opportunities before you. They may be more obvious than you think. Boundaries are really important. Clearly stake your claim in the market you are in! Your messaging should be part products and services and part brand positioning.
2. Who is my ideal target audience?
Narrow your target down to really understand their specific needs and pain points. You can’t be everything to everyone to be effective. Identify who is my primary focus? Who is my secondary? and so on.
3. What really sets my brand apart from everyone else?
Every brand should look to deliver a unique story in their market that people can totally identify and connect with. This is also why building your personal brand story is so important. While there will be similar services or products in the marketplace – there is ONLY ONE YOU!
Once you can clearly answer these questions, then you are much closer to setting up your brand for growth, power and long-term success.
What’s your one burning statement or sentence?
What is the value you are promising?
Think of your brand promise as what differentiates you from your competitors. It’s your USP, your unique selling proposition. The USP for Amazon is that it sells the widest range of products at the best prices, and it delivers it to your door, super fast right at your fingertips.
When your customers receive any product or service from you, that tangible benefit of choosing your company or organization is defined by your brand promise. It is a direct extension of your brand positioning, and the larger expectation that it sets.
You absolutely must deliver on that brand promise to establish trust.
What is the brand persona, characteristic you assign to your brand.
Your brand tone of voice, style and messaging are tied into your brand personality. If you could describe your business as a person – what human characteristics would you choose?
Confident? Bold? Caring? Serious? Fun? Adventurous? Courageous? Dependable? Safe?
What are the core values your brand stands for? This is also a part of your brand purpose.
And if building a personal brand is your priority – what would be your most compelling traits that best capture the essence of who you are?
What we are talking about is your brand personality and values – the way your brand behaves, speaks and engages with the outside world. It’s the more emotional and relatable side of your brand.
Discovering, celebrating, and expressing your core values, will not only help you emotionally connect better with your audience, but it will also further distinguish your brand from others in a similar niche.
The key is this – when you deliver your total brand experience, you must make sure your authenticity and values really shine through.
Once you identify the previous 4 above elements, you can finally think about creating or refreshing your brand identity, logo, tagline and visual elements. When you think Nike, Amazon, Google or the Apple – you immediately think of their logos.
Your Logo is the Identifier, not the content. The role of the logo has dramatically shifted from one-way communication to TRIBE BUILDING. Always look beyond the logo. Think about the brand as something bigger than the logo. Make the story behind it important.
Your Brand Experience is now the signature of the brand and its personality.
Your logo and other tangible assets and aesthetics such as your tagline, the colors you choose, your image assets, videos and online content, the name of your business – all are a part of your brand identity and expression system.
It’s main role? To trigger immediate recognition and recall for your brand.
Don’t be elusive, be visual in your marketing copy. The importance of words create a strong, visual presence. Marketing is an effort in memorization. Visual language helps people memorize your offer. It is extremely powerful. Describe something in such a way that people can picture it. Think who the heroes of the brand are.
Responsive, Moving Logo Systems
Brands can be both identified and remembered not just for how they look – but especially for their other sensory elements, like motion and sound.
In our digital age, logos are becoming more abstract into simple design solutions that work across all platforms. Today, this is more important that ever, use motion, audio and video to stand out and connect with your audience.
Your story may be incomplete without the visceral accompaniment of audio branding, whether that’s a unique music signature or other branding elements like logo ID’s and stingers. Keep them fresh. It’s essential to have an integrated multi-sensory approach when it comes to communicating your brand identity.
So remember…your brand is so much more than just your logo or tagline It is an interconnected suite of expectations, experiences, promises, benefits, multi-sensory elements, images and identity symbols that deliver your brand story to the world.
Approach your brand development as a strategic process that includes all these elements, not just your logo design. Then you get can really capture the hearts and minds of your customers and wonderful things begin to happen.