You need these things to create a unique brand that leaves a lasting impression
Without a strong brand, a business is just, well, a business. It’s like interacting with a person without a personality (or a good one, anyway). Sure, you can communicate. But it won’t be a memorable experience and you may walk away wishing you could get those underwhelming moments of your life back.
The same is true with brands. Establishing—and, even more importantly, maintaining—a strong brand with an authentic, recognizable personality your customers can relate to is foundational to attracting repeat business and long-term loyalty. And when you have those two things, you have it all, my friends.
Make it fit-tastic
Ok, so you know having a strong brand is important. Great. But how do you go about creating yours? I mean, it’s not like you can just let it grow up and see what it becomes. You have to shape it. And it has to be a good fit not only for your business, but also for the people you hope to attract. So, let’s start there—with fit.
There’s a new saying that I just made up: Don’t wear a suit to a clown party. This is very much a “know your audience” kind of situation. Imagine hiring a clown for a kids’ birthday party and opening the door to find someone in a business suit. That would be weird and unsettling (yes, even more unsettling than a clown in clown gear), because the persona doesn’t match the expectation.
The same can happen with brands if you don’t know your market. Put simply, don’t dress your brand in a suit if your customers expect a clown. And vice versa. Here’s what you should consider when shaping your brand’s personality:
- Your audience. Who are they and how do they talk, live, work, dress, etc.?
- Your offering and price point. Don’t create a Nordstrom persona for a Costco offering.
- Your competition. Avoid the sea of sameness. Find a gap and fill it.
- What the brand stands for. For example, if you want to be all about pushing boundaries, then your brand had better not be typical.
You’ve got the look (and feel)
How your brand looks, sounds, and acts make up its personality. Or, in fancy brand terms, the “look and feel.”
The look of your brand comprises visual elements that establish the business identity—the logo, fonts, color palette, photography style, tactic templates (like how an email is formatted), etc. You should make every choice strategically, because every detail matters. For example, if you’re trying to communicate sophistication, you wouldn’t want to use Comic Sans as your font (for the record, no one should ever use Comic Sans for any reason, but I digress).
How your brand sounds to customers and communities comes through in the messaging. Establishing a clear brand voice (be it witty, serious, sentimental, authoritative, etc.) and applying it consistently across all communications—written and verbal—will help set the right tone and make your brand recognizable.
Remember the two C’s
Brand recognition is key to your success. And recognition comes from repetition—repetition in the form of congruency and consistency. Those two C’s define a brand’s standard.
Consistency is about establishing a look and feel and sticking with that look and feel like your brand depends on it. Of course, you can evolve it over time IF there’s a purpose in doing so. But for the foreseeable future, what you’ve created is how you should present your brand to the world. Resist the urge to change fonts or colors or whatever brand element you’re bored with just because you’re sick of looking at it (believe me, it happens). Remember: It’s not about you. It’s about your customers. And they don’t live and breathe your brand day in and day out like you do. So, give them time to take it in. Lots of it.
Congruency happens when you apply your consistent look across all touch points. Let’s say a person hands me their business card. As the diligent networker I am, I go to the website listed on the card, and the LinkedIn page, and Facebook profile—and they all look like they belong to one brand. That’s congruency. Consistency plus congruency equals all good things.
Establish your brand strategically, stick with it religiously, and apply it broadly. That’s how to build a brand that makes the business.