Mary Higgins Clark was known as the queen of suspense. Apple makes sleek, smart tech for cool people. Disney is magical and family-friendly. And Gordon Ramsay is that screamy chef who won’t settle for anything less than perfection.
If you’re nodding along with any of those descriptions, I’m not surprised. Because the above people and companies have done a damn fine job of branding—of letting us all know how we should feel about them, who they are, and what they stand for.
We think of Mary Higgins Clark and we automatically think “suspense.”
We imagine Disney and think of flying carpets and theme park rides (not to mention, catchy songs we just can’t get out of our heads).
We picture Gordon Ramsay and we’d never call him a nice guy, but we all know he’s not going to put up with his restaurants doing anything but quality work.
Now, not every brand above may be your cup of tea. But chances are, you know what they are. You know what they stand for. And that’s a big win for those companies, because when we need what they offer, we know exactly where to find them.
This, friends, is the power of branding—understanding who you are and communicating that intangible personality to your prospects and customers.
So how do companies like Disney, and famous folks like our queen of suspense, pull it off? The answer starts with three simple things:
They know who they are.
Brand is to business as personality is to an individual. It’s the combination of factors that make you, you. And if you don’t know who you are, how do you expect anyone else to describe your brand?
This is why you need a brand strategy—and I don’t mean just a logo and some colors, and a catchy tagline. I mean you need to understand what your brand’s personality is. Are you funny and sweary and irreverent like yours truly? Are you intense and powerful and outdoorsy like Red Bull? Are you sleek and smart like Apple? Or a helpful problem-solver like Salesforce?
Once you nail that down, everything else should stem from it. Your brand colors should reflect your personality. Your logo should. And, of course, your content—be it written, spoken, animated, or illustrated—absolutely should. (In fact, 46% of brand image comes from what you say and how you say it.)
They incorporate their brand across everything they do.
Consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%. Which means once you understand your brand, it’s time to make sure every channel you’ve got matches up.
Now, the first things people think of when we say this are websites, brochures, signs, and social media. But that’s not all we mean. Branding should permeate everything. Customer service phone calls. Employee meetings. Customer stories. Talks you give at conferences. Guest articles you publish off your site.
Just like it’d be weird for Beyonce to suddenly start speaking in tech jargon or Marilyn Manson to get onstage and start reading children’s books aloud, departing from your brand will feel jarring or weird to customers and prospects—and may well drive them away. Which means once you have a brand, it’s time to commit—across every platform, channel, and communication type.
They’ve stopped trying to appeal to everybody.
There’s no such thing as a product or brand that’s “for everybody”. Which is why it’s funny that almost everybody comes into branding sessions answering the question “who is your audience?” with some version of “everyone!”
To have a solid brand, we have to get past this. Because even the most successful companies in the world aren’t trying to appeal to every single person on the planet.
If you’re looking for a deep literary novel, Mary Higgins Clark isn’t the right author for you. If historical women behaving badly are your jam (let’s be honest: they’re mine), you’re probably more interested in Rejected Princesses than Disney.
One of the challenges any new brand faces is letting go of the idea that a strong brand will alienate people. If you do branding right, the only people you’re sending away are the people who aren’t right for you anyway. If you’re selling suspense novels, what do you care if the romance crowd isn’t interested? If you’re a divorce lawyer, why would it matter that single people pass your brochure right on by?
At the end of the day, success isn’t about volume anyway. Success is about finding the right people who need your product or service. What good branding does is home in on those right people.
Okay, so what’s next?
Nodding along with all this but not sure how to start defining your own brand? That’s where we come in. Reach out anytime. We’d love to talk about how we can help.