A brand is the summation of all the identifying aspects of your company, from your name and logo to the URL of your website and Instagram account. A brand identity, meanwhile, is the association held in a customer's mind when they think of the above.
Today we will look at how to craft a compelling and unique brand persona, but first, we must consider how to define your brand.
How to Define Your Brand
Defining your business is more than just a marketing trick - it's a vital step that separates short term ventures from long term commitments. Taking action to define your brand affirms your intent and direction.
It allows you to shape the public opinion of your brand instead of leaving it in the eye of the beholder. You wouldn't let a stranger or competitor design your website without input from you, so why would you allow them to shape the image of your company?
By learning how to define your brand and making an effort to implement a branding strategy, you are taking ownership of your company. Here are some tips to keep in mind during this process:
Tip 1: Consistency is Key
Why do companies have logos? It's a maker's mark, a way of associating a particular product or service with the creator who brought it into being. So if your logo changed from product to product, wouldn't that undermine the entire purpose?
This same concept applies to more than just your logo. You should strive to be consistent in as many areas as possible. From color choices in your website and social media pages, to whether your brand is apolitical or invested in activism, be consistent.
You must set your message in advance and then stick to it regardless of medium. Otherwise, you may as well change your logo every day, because the association customers will make with your brand will end up being its lack of consistency.
Tip 2: Less Is More, but More Is Also More
Does your brand need an Instagram? What about twitter? Your immediate thought process might be "No, because my product has nothing to do with twitter." However, this train of reasoning is missing the point.
Being present on social platforms provides a lot of benefits;
You don't have to pay for impressions if people are sending each other your content. Even seeing your brand name can remind a customer that you exist.
Think of a struggle you had while trying to get in touch with a company whose product was giving you trouble. Now imagine if you were able to get a solution from them with just two minutes of work. Wouldn't that give you a positive impression of the company?
Also, think of the inverse - wouldn't it be nice if you could speak directly to any frustrated customer, and leave them with a glowing impression of your brand? Now you can, (and should) thanks to the internet.
Centralized Customer Support
What if your customer support team centered around social media support? You could reach the vast majority of customers and resolve issues publicly instead of allowing them to damage your brand.
No Paying for Positive Press
There's no need to coordinate an interview or pay to advertise your new product. Your social media accounts are a publishing platform, run by you, that allows you to freely and instantly update the public as a whole. Traditional publishers can follow up from there, no need to hound them if they come to you.
Tip 3: Avoid Common Mistakes and Oversights
As stated above, "less is more" is equally valid. It can be easy to overcompensate and try to make your brand fit with the 'cool kids,' but that's a mistake.
It's more important for your brand to fit your product. Otherwise, you may be attracting attention - but not customers. If your company focuses on sales to businesses, having social media may do more harm than good.
In short, the brand you build should fit your business.
Translating Brand Definition into Brand Identity
So, you've written down your mission statement. You've built an action plan for applying these principles to the everyday operations of your company. Well, there's work to do yet!
You have a brand definition; now you need a brand identity.
Tip 4: Know the Difference
Your brand definition is a consistent internal representation of what your company is, what it represents, and where it's going. It's like a compass that can tell you when you're on track, and when you need to change course.
A brand identity is an external representation of your company. It is how you show the world that your brand definition isn't just lip service.
If you have a luxury brand focused on quality, show your customers how you put extra effort into crafting your products. Tell them about the process, what your competitors do, and what you do differently.
Your guiding principle is outstanding customer service? Then don't just allow your customers to provide feedback; actively solicit their opinions. If taking care of customers is your top priority, show them you care by going above and beyond at every opportunity, not by outsourcing your support.
Tip 5: The Importance of Brand Identity
Brand identity and customer perception are two sides of the same coin. The first is what you are offering, and the latter is what your customer is receiving.
You can sculpt an image of a thoughtful and caring company all you want, but at the end of the day what matters is what the customer thinks of you. This perception is what they will share with your other potential customers, and is the sole factor that determines whether your business will fail, or succeed.
A business cannot exist for long without customers.
Tip 6: Use Your Identity Carefully
You may know how to create a brand identity, but using it is an entirely different beast. The best approach is a gentle one - invite customers into your space so that you can inform them about who you are and what you do.
Don't badger them or toot your own horn, no matter how good you think your product is. Some companies can get away with this, but it's better to play it safe since this strategy can backfire terribly.
From Brand Identity to Brand Persona
A brand persona is what you create when you effectively anthropomorphize your brand. Either you or your customers personify it, and you let go of the reins and allow this perception to take on a life of its own.
As you may imagine, letting go of the reins is not without risks, leading us to our final tip;
Tip 7: Brand Persona Isn't for Everyone
The dangers of imbuing your brand with a degree of self-determination are reasonably clear, so I'll focus on what makes a company a bad fit for a brand persona. If you can't say yes to all of the following questions, a brand persona is not for you.
Do people refer to your product by your brand name, or by the name of the product? E.g., "I'm going to go grab some McDonald's" vs. "I'm going to go grab a burger from Burger Chain."
Would your customers be able to list several 'personality traits' that they associate with your brand?
Would they generally agree on the contents of the list mentioned above?
Is a mascot a natural fit for your brand?
Do non-customers have a positive or at least neutral opinion of your brand?
How Does All This Relate To Profit?
Brand identity is one of the most useful marketing tools you can access. It is as critical for competing in the modern era as awareness of the psychology of advertising has been from the 80's onwards.
Knowing how to define your brand and taking steps to craft a brand identity is just as relevant to the future of your business as having a business plan. Your brand definition could be understood as an extension of your business plan - a description of how it relates to marketing.
If this feels like a bit too much to handle, or you want to leave the marketing in the hands of experts, please check out our services page! You can reach out to us at any time; we would be happy to help you.