Creating a brand is hard. There is no way of getting around it. Every day we work with clients who spend their every waking moment trying to make their dreams a reality and are frustrated because things are not working out.
The problem is, creating a brand is about more than hard work, it’s about understanding the components of a brand. You wouldn’t open an unlocked door by breaking it down with your shoulder; you would just turn the doorknob. This comes from a basic understanding of what makes up a door and how the components work.
In the same way, marketing and branding have components. We have compiled a list of what we believe to be the 5 elements needed to build a brand that lasts.
1. Clarity: Do people understand what you do?
Imagine it’s Halloween. You’re excited because you went out and bought candy all the kids in the neighborhood will love, and nothing makes you happier than greeting those little goblins and Jedi knights as they fill their bags. You sit around all evening waiting for the doorbell to ring but it never does. You start to get a little frustrated because after all you went to the trouble of buying great candy and for what? Only then do you realize that your front porch light is off, and because of that the trick-or-treaters think you aren’t home.
Companies make this mistake in their marketing all too often. They make amazing products or offer great services, but nobody is buying and they can’t figure out why. Just because you have something people need doesn’t mean that they know you are there.
You need to be marketing in a way that makes it clear to people that you have exactly what they need to make their lives easier. Don’t be the house with the lights off, or the one handing out mints. Be the house with the strobe lights and the bucket stuffed with king sized Snickers bars.
2. Cohesion: Is there a consistency to what you do?
We all know the story of the blind men and the elephant. The blind men, unable to see an elephant, attempt to describe the massive animal based on incomplete information. One grabs the trunk and decides the elephant is like a snake. One feels the leg and decides that an elephant is in fact much like a tree. Yet another goes on to feel and ear and decides that it’s actually more like a large hand fan and so on and so forth.
Now this story is meant to show mankind’s limited perspective on an objective truth. However, when it comes to marketing, the moral has changed. The true moral is this: DON’T BE AN ELEPHANT.
Everything from your branding to your products to your emails should look and feel like you. Every time people interact with something you make or a service you provide, they should know and feel that you made it.
People want security and they want to know what to expect from you. It is not by mistake that an iPad looks like an iPhone which looks like an Apple Watch. Cohesion builds loyalty, and loyalty builds sales.
3. Honesty: Do people know what to expect from you?
It’s a calm evening and you are headed to dinner with your friends. You sit down at a booth in the corner and you start to flip through the menu. Your waiter comes over but rather than askingwhat you want to drink he starts calling you names and swearing at you. What do you do?
Most likely you try to get the guy fired, right? And it’s not because he was mean to you. It’s because you had a predetermined expectation that he didn’t meet and you are not happy about it. He was supposed to be one thing but he was in fact, another.
The truth is, people don’t need you to be nice to them. Sure it absolutely helps, but what people really want is honesty.
There are whole restaurants based around the idea of foul mouthed and aggressive waiters and people don’t complain because the restaurants are honest up front about what to expect from them. Can people say the same for your company?
Do your products do what you claim they do? Do your packages ship on time? Do you stand by your guarantees? People are looking for you to help make their lives easier and one of the best ways to do that is to set clear expectations and then deliver on them every time.
4. Beauty: Are you offering transformation?
“At every level of the human experience, we are looking for the beautiful, something that gives priority to our souls, not just our physical needs … that’s why the starting point for everything I do is the beautiful, not the practical.”
This quote is pulled from a TED talk given by Theaster Gates on the importance of beauty. His argument is this: people act differently around beautiful things.
Isn’t it easier to litter in an alleyway than in a park? Don’t we all have a bit more patience for naiveté when it’s found in children? So if beauty begets beauty, what does that mean for your marketing?
The truth is this, beauty is relative, it rests solely in the eye of the beholder. So the real question is, what does beauty mean to your customer?
The better you understand about who your customer is and how they see the world, the more you can build beautiful products and services that they will act differently around.
So go above and beyond, foster great client relationships, build the best products you can, and stop staring so hard at the bottom line. People will notice.
5. Value: Do you believe in “why” you do what you do?
The Bible tells a story about two men, both of whom are building a house. The first man finds a patch of sand, and noticing that it’s easy to dig, begins to build his house. The other manfinds an area of solid rock and begins the hard work of digging out a foundation.
Both men finish their houses and eventually a storm rolls in and completely washes out the house on the sand while the house on the rock stands firm. The lesson? What you do matters, but Why and How you do it is just as important.
This is essential when it comes to marketing. Great marketing hinges upon great products and services. If you don’t firmly believe in the why and how of what you do, then none of the things listed above matter.
In order to build a brand that lasts you need to be able to stand behind what you do. Loyalty is not built by tricking people. So ask yourself, are you building on sand or rock?