Amazon’s Jeff Bezos so aptly summarised branding as what people say about you when you are no longer in the room.
Do you know what they’re saying about you?
Are you wondering how to change the script, or even write it in the first place? You can create a brand that tells the story you want others to share when you’re not there to tell it yourself, but to do so requires a little business soul searching.
To help you get started, here are five key foundations to building and maintaining a clear brand story. Together, they will help you form a base strategy for your brand.
- Know who you are
Your business is your most important character. What’s your story? Why does your business exist and how does it make the world a better place?
You don’t need to be a game changer to have a story you can be proud of. Every business professes to make something better, either through providing a quality or innovative service, or by offering a better product, or a better price.
Know what makes your business better, and learn how to tell this story to others in as simple and as few words as possible.
- Know who you matter to
Your audience may not know it yet (let’s just assume you’re one great marketing plan away from that) but you matter. You can help to improve their lives in some fundamental way. Whether you’re a soap company that doesn’t irritate their skin, and insurance broker that’s going to help mitigate their risk, or a new service that’s going to make their life easier, your business matters to someone.
What’s truly important is that you have a very clear understanding of who your product or service is going to matter to (if they don’t matter to you, you know you’ve got a problem).
By knowing who really needs your business, and why, you can speak directly to them through every communication. This clarity will make your brand stand out, and really engage with its audience.
- Know your character
But, before you say anything, you need to know what you sound like.
Are you funny, or serious? Erudite or easy-going? Cautious or concerned? With so much of today’s brand building achieved through conversational engagements with your target audience, (think social media) it’s never been more important to know your brand’s character and authentic voice.
Developing a brand is difficult, because like people, it can be hard to know how others see us, and what might need to change in order to them to see what we want to show.
- Know what you stand for.
If you want people to follow your business, to trust it, you’ve got to show you’re a leader.
What are your values and your purpose? Do you have a clear mission and vision for what you’d like your business to achieve?
Knowing your true north, and aligning all of your visual and communication elements with that aspiration shows your audience where you’re heading. You may not yet be the world’s leading sports brand, but you’re going to look like you believe you will be.
- Deliver your brand promise.
Whatever you decide your business stands for, deliver it—be consistent. The best graphic design, the greatest copy, a wonderful social media strategy are all worthless if you under deliver, or venture off brand.
The best brands are built on trust. You create an image, a voice, a position and a set of values that invites your target audience to engage—this is your promise. Fail to deliver and you will break that trust, or confuse your audience.
Putting branding into action.
The best brands have a very clear understanding of who they are, what they want to achieve, and how they are going to deliver it. Every element of their visual identity, every word they speak, and every product or service they offer, aligns seamlessly with the essence of their brand. This consistency and reinforcement is what, over time and through marketing, gives their audience a clear understanding of their story.
By developing a strategy for your brand’s foundations, you will know your story. And, when you’re not in the room, others will be able to tell it too.