A brand fundamentally is a way to identify yourself and/or the services you provide. It is a face to your individuality, niche, and quality. It is something that is tied to a specific personality that others can resonate with making them loyal to you or your services. At least that is what you strive to do with your brand, but, what is the best way to go about getting people to want to be brand loyal to you above anyone else?
- How to achieve the look you want.
- What do others think?
- Your brand is a reflection of you but it wasn’t created for you.
- Dominate competitors by showing your humanity.
- Clarify your vision, tell everyone.
How to achieve the look you want.
The look of your brand is extremely important, it is the first thing people will judge. Whether you like it or not, people will always judge a book by its cover. It is simply how we are wired as human beings; you need to make sure your brand is clearly aligned with your values and vision. The best way to start achieving the look you want for your brand is to evaluate yourself first, after all, you will be the spirit behind your brand’s energy and communication.
Being self-aware will lead to a clear direction of a strong vision. This allows you to reach out and connect with like-minded individuals. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling in being more self-aware.
“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” -Gary Vaynerchuck
Questions to ask yourself:
- What am I changing, entertaining, helping, or providing others with?
- Why would this be important to some people?
- Why is it important to me?
- What is different about this or how I do this?
- If everything goes as planned, what is the long-term positive effect this will have on myself and others? (More money shouldn’t count as an answer!)
Really get behind the why of what you are doing; where is your drive coming from to build a brand? This is what you need to learn first before you can achieve the look that will support your vision for years.
Connect with a designer who asks you a million questions and then asks a million more. This is always my first step when tailoring my client’s brand identity. A thorough questionnaire process only helps to understand each angle when developing a brand into existence.
Traditionally, an agency or freelance designer will go through a bunch of internal revisions and provide a handful of options to the client. To me, this is unacceptable, why? This puts all of the pressure back onto the client, pressure the client is paying for to take off of them. While I think the client should have the ultimate decision when it comes to their brand the problem at hand still isn’t solved.
• What logo will most likely achieve the correct perception within your target audience’s mind?
• What color scheme coincides the best with your tone of voice?
• Do the visuals line up with the vision of the company? What percentage of the target audience agree and what percentage doesn’t?
Other than in my own work, I haven’t witnessed brand development agencies utilize a more data-driven approach. In my opinion, a designer should provide you answers to all of these questions and more, especially in your first presentation, there is no excuse not to.
What do others think?
There are two sides of the coin when achieving a successful brand. We talked about one side, it’s being self-aware and having a clear vision for the brand. The other side is your target audience, not everybody, just your target audience. A lot of people get this part wrong, they have strong urge to be liked by everyone. Maybe it is just me but I feel like people say this all of the time, still, nobody seems to hear it. You can’t be liked by everyone, one more time, you can’t be liked by everyone. Your brand will not be successful if everyone likes you. Why? Because this would mean that you’re extremely bland and show no candor for others to latch onto.
You want to find that small group of people at first, treat those people really well! This group is what I and seanwes like to call your “ambassadors” they will expand your audience for you, so treat them well. Communication with your audience is key, they not only can help you expand your brand to a larger audience they can help you refine your brand. Today, we have many great tools to help them help you do this. For example, email is a great way to get them involved in giving you feedback. Here’s the trick, give them something they actually want, then ask them to provide feedback on their own time. Maybe, you give again after they provide feedback. Give them a reason to be emotionally involved with your brand, let them know you consider them to be an “ambassador”, go out of your way to say thank you, no strings attached.
Your brand is a reflection of you but it wasn’t created for you.
Think of a brand as a child, it is conceived by you and brought up to exercise specific values by you the parent. From time to time the child or “brand” even shows the same quirks as the parent. However, it’s friends (aka target audience) and rivals (competitors) shape and refine them into the person they will grow to be.
Don’t get wrapped up in what you want, you’re one person. Your vision likely includes a lot of people so don’t let yourself the parent to get in the way of your brand’s success. Your job is to help the brand maintain its integrity, a job that requires a lot of attention all on its own.
In order to gain large amounts of feedback I have used tools like Google Consumer Surveys, User Testing, and foot to pavement methods. Let’s focus on Google Consumer Surveys as I think this is one of the best ways to get people to interact with feedback for a brand.
Start by designing your survey and targeting people that fall within your audience’s demographic. This will show more accurate results that are similar to speaking directly with the people who are interested in what your brand has to offer. People who interact and respond appropriately gain incentives for their input so you don’t have to worry about false data. When everyone is finished, you receive Google’s survey data to help you make data-driven decisions behind any creative design work.
In my professional opinion, it’s tools like this that remove a lot of guesswork out of the design industry leaving clients with work that not only is creative but show promise for best performance.
Dominate competitors by showing your humanity.
Technology has been the single biggest contributor to the paradigm shift we are seeing in human communication today. If you are not on board with that concept you’re losing valuable business, jump in, get your brand deeply involved with all social media platforms! Social media is one of the best ways to quickly reach out and talk with someone who loves consuming what your brand is bringing to the table. I would even bet that people communicate so much through social media that if you were to actually call somebody personally to thank them for being a customer you would surprise them. I highly suggest people start doing this, it’s personal and refreshing as F*CK to receive a no strings attached phone call with another human being on the other end to just hear them say thank you.
How do you handle yourself when things go wrong? Do you make people jump through hoops or do you fix it immediately because even though you may be losing money you respect their relationship more? Show your humanity and people will more likely put your brand at the top of their mind.
Clarify your vision, tell everyone.
Now that you understand a little more about what goes into a successful brand, you can begin clarifying what your brand means to you and what it will mean to others. Remember a brand’s success relies on your values and vision, it’s refined by your audience, not by what you like or will always want.
The more you communicate your vision the more you enable others to get on board and support its movement. Listen and talk with your audience always and remember to form a relationship with your brand’s “ambassadors” to grow your audience. If there is one thing from this post that I want people to understand it’s in order to embody your brand you must be open to others input more than your own.