Brand Management - Create Your Own Language
An extremely butchered version of an old advertising yarn:
The creative director for a very famous agency had worked tirelessly on an automotive company's brand, nurturing it out of the gutter. Seeing much success, the auto company president looked at the continued cost for agency services and asked the adman, "So what am I paying you for now anyway?" The adman wryly responded, "To keep you from (screwing) it up."
Branding is not an event, it's a discipline. It's not a battle for the customer, it's a battle for a company's heart. Find your heart and you will find your customer.
Creating your brand is like creating your own language. There are many elements in this language to consider:
- Visual - graphic style.
- Message - what and how information is communicated.
- Products - the configuration of services and products greatly influences your brand identity.
- Interaction - how a person feels after interacting with your company.
Creating and managing a consistent visual and interaction language allows great message efficiency.
click image to enlarge
A sad story and a happy story
The sad story (in outline form):
- Company A never put much value in articulating a mission / vision / value statement.
- Company A "got a logo done by somebody" and used it for signage but not on emails or newsletters.
- Documented corporate standards were viewed as nit-picky.
- Advertising was done only when a good media deal was spotted and usually the publisher also produced the ad. The ad message depended on the business owner's current hot button.
- Company A put little effort into understanding why customers bought products from them or chose their services.
The sad story ends with Company A never seeing consistent returns on advertising, continually needing to explain to customers what they do, and only engaging on an emotional level through their sales people. When their sales people left the company, so did the customers. What a sad story.
Now a happy story:
- Company B realized that customers returned because of its service performance and ease of use.
- Tailored graphics supported this strength - logo, corporate ID and imagery.
- Ads repeatedly communicated this key message to create the service expectation.
- Business decisions supported the company's strength of service.
- Key copy blocks focused on customer service.
- Company B applied these points with consistency throughout its business practice
- Soon the simple display of the company's logo conjured a multitude of positive embedded meanings for viewers. It engaged emotions and created the right expectations whenever viewed.
The happy story is still being written by Company B with every brand-building decision they make.
The term "brand" has become a much overused buzzword and I'm of the opinion that the branding of the word "brand" has been ill-managed itself. Many businesses know they need it, talk about it, want to have it, but don't know how.
It really can be this uncomplicated:
- Find what is the heart and soul of your company.
- Create a visual and interactive language around that soul.
- Maintain consistency in using that language.
Branding is about creating a story - a narrative between you and your customer - and it can be a very happy one.
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