Your brand is not your company’s name or logo, colours, chosen font, or your company tagline. No… Much more importantly, your company’s brand is its personality.
Much like the other personal relationships in our lives, branding is all about creating a lasting, emotional connection. Brands etch themselves indelibly into the human psyche as early as childhood – you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t remember their favourite brand of candy as a child. Your brand represents your customers’ perception of you – it exists in the minds of your consumers – or as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos puts it, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
On average, it takes a min of 6-7 “brand touches” for someone to remember your brand, whether that is for the positive or the negative. It takes as many as 12-13 “brand touches” to improve a negative brand opinion after it has formed. One bad experience with your business can make a consumer around twice as likely to select another company instead.
So how do we maximise these “brand touches” and enhance our brand’s ability emote positive feelings? Remember branding is all about human emotional connections – the personal feelings we have for that brand or “company personality”.
Intent / Purpose
As humans, we are much more likely to side with someone who’s intent aligns with our own. The same is true of brands. Your brand must reflect your company’s purpose – for that to happen, you need to know what that purpose is.
What is your vision for your business, and more importantly, its customers? Look at what sets you apart from your competitors? Do you have goals beyond mere “point of sale push” tactics?
Consider brands you yourself strongly favour – why are you drawn to them? Do you agree with their purpose and intent? Read their mission statement and consider its effect on YOU – their consumer…
Now go back and think about your own branding again. Does it serve to express your purpose as a company? Does it convey your company’s intent to your consumers? If not – how can you make that communication clearer? Consumers want brands they can relate to and trust. Communicating your intent clearly and effectively is a crucial part of building that trust
We all know looks aren’t everything, but they sure do go a long way when forming our first, and often times longest lasting impressions.
The most obvious element of a brand’s appearance is its logo – a recognisable symbol unique to you that sets you apart from the rest of the world. Every time your consumers see this it will re-enforce their positive impressions of your business. As such, it should be in everything you do!
Complimenting your company logo, and often just as important, are the other visual aspects that identify your business. These include things like font faces, sizes and weights, colours and consistent use of spacing – a brand style guide is essential to ensure this consistency across all areas of the company, it’s products, and its communication to consumers. More-so, a brand style guide should also justify why the style is the way it is. A common example is a certain proportional amount of whitespace around every use of a logo to ensure it is always easily identifiable at a glance. A consistent style guide allows you to always present a consistent face to your consumers, further re-enforcing your company’s persona.
Community + Brands
As humans, we all want to belong – a successful business will use this need to evoke a feeling of being connected to like-minded consumers on a deeply personal level. Companies that encourage feelings of belonging to a larger group understand that people have an instinctual need for relationships.
Based on fMRI studies done by leading international branding expert Martin Lindstrom, we now know much more about the underlying neurological effects of a brand’s impression on us.
Lindstrom found that consumers of Apple computers, drinkers of Guinness beer or riders of Harley Davidson motorcycles all evoked a similar neurological response as seen in groups of religious church goers worshipping together. Good branding is quite literally becoming the new religion.
The additional benefit to this “sense of community” is that quite often, it serves as a form of free advertising, as your consumers try and bring others into their community. This sense of “brand religion” helps with both consumer retention and growth going forward. Social media has perhaps amplified this effect to a greater level, and much faster than any other time in human history, as the smaller niche communities now have a much larger audience who they may not have been able to reach before.
While there is certainly much more to the “science of why we buy” than could ever be covered in this article, keeping these 3 core areas of “brand definition” in mind will help ensure both yourself, and your consumers can relate to your brand on a deep and personal level. These techniques re-enforce the all-so-important effect of consistent, positive primary “brand touches” to help create a lasting, positive brand relationship for life!