Brand From the Core, Then Polish to a Shine
Truly memorable brands, whether personal or business, sprout from their essence. Brands that resonate with people don’t just focus on the product or service they provide, but do something much more palpable: they dig down deep and find what makes them special, and by this we mean more than just their latest sales proposition.
Take a manicure salon for example — is it a business that trims cuticles and polishes nails or is it really more about making people feel good about themselves? What if this brand were to find that one thing that really makes it special: making people feel pampered. Obviously, this would make a far better emotional connection beyond the more ordinary promise of good personal care.
If you are an accountant, is it about how good you are at crunching numbers, or is it that you help people’s financial dreams come true, thereby changing lives? Which makes for a more interesting brand? Which message speaks to people and captures their attention? The more impact your message carries, the better your brand!
Speak to me
Remember, good branding speaks to people. This is as true for companies as it is for individuals. It is easier for businesses to forget this, of course, but there is a change in the air and the savvy business owner or CEO is getting with the program too, humanizing their brands as they increasingly listen to, engage and interact with their customers.
Who are you?
One way to go about defining you, and what your brand should be, is to think about the three things that exemplify your true essence or core. Then take these core brand values and weave them into your total branding message.
What things are as natural to you as breathing and are what make you uniquely YOU? What are your true talents and skills, and what impact might they have on the world? What have people complimented you on over the years? What has made you stand out?
Self-analysis can be a challenge, yet it is critical to brand creation. If you get stuck, you may also try asking close friends to share what they feel makes you the special package that is YOU. Define those elements you feel are most important in achieving your personal or business goals and those that best represent your brand. This is where your true interests and passions lie, and perhaps even intersect with a viable business idea.
What this process also does is guarantee that your brand will be an honest, organic realization of all you are and all you have worked towards. This is what makes great brands shine, but even more, it is also what will make you happiest as you pursue your dreams. Creating a brand for yourself or your business may seem daunting at first, but taking the time upfront to nurture and develop it gives your brand the best chance to grow into something original and long lasting.
Tell your story
If you are able to tie this all together into a captivating story, so much the better. This is what creates an irresistible brand and piques interest in your pursuits. People respond to heartfelt stories, so if you can demonstrate the genesis of how your brand came about and that it was through a natural evolution of who you are, then you could really be onto something special! It will then be more than just a business, and nothing short of the embodiment of your life’s work. Never forget that authenticity is key to any good brand — the goal is to reveal the most honest, real picture of you and/or your business to the world.
Package your brand
Once you have done the introspection required and honed in on what your brand should really be saying, then you need to take it to the next level. Listen closely, because this is where so many brands falter: you need to package your brand in the best, most effective way possible that expresses all that you are — one that speaks to your market, community, audience, or constituency and conveys your message loud and clear.
Through the smart, strategic use of design and sharp, concise language that gets your points across clearly and succinctly, you will be able to communicate what you or your business is about in a way that engages and brings people into what you have created. Utilizing good typography, color, imagery and other visual components, you will bring your brand to life in a way that either excites or achieves its impact by more subtle measures.
Do it right the first time
One would be wise at this crucial step to go the extra mile and not cut corners, as so many brands mistakenly do. Make your brand image the most desirable, effective one it can be. Many make the mistake of either throwing something together quickly just to get something out, or trying to do it all themselves when an experienced professional would be the smarter course of action.
Please don’t fall into the trap of doing something “good enough for now”, in hopes of redoing it later when resources are more plentiful. Many brands end up dissatisfied with their image but feel stuck, because they feel their logo and brand image already has vested equity and they will lose brand recognition. False starts can doom your brand, or at least become a costly redesign later.
Plan, budget and leave the proper time to get it right upfront. The old adage holds true: you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Well-nurtured, shiny apples stand out and taste the best!
Smart, cohesive branding that is coordinated with all your other marketing efforts and touch points from the beginning, will continuously reinforce itself, speaking with one powerful voice. In today’s busy, distracted, noisy world, it is the only way to ensure your brand has the best shot at being seen and heard. Integrated with your core, your true brand essence, you will have the makings of a brand that cannot be ignored.