Your brand is what your customers, what people think of, when they think of you
I participated in a panel discussion on branding, and realized after listening to someone who commandeered the discussion, that my ideas on branding most definitely go against the grain. So much so I decided to create this manifesto.
As a matter of full disclosure, my ideas were formed, and are being formed, by reading and studying the works of experts in this area, people much smarter than I am. People such as:
My thoughts on branding
Your brand isn’t your logo. Your brand isn’t about colors and fonts.
Your brand is what your customers, what people think of, when they think of you, so make sure your business, your brand, speaks to the values of:
- Your audience.
- Your customers.
- Your prospects.
To do this you need to know what your market truly cares about. You must solve people’s needs, deliver what you promise and be transparent in your offerings.
To train your customers to think of you in a crisis, you have to build a relationship with them just as you would with a friend. Relationship building is the glue that gives your brand staying power. People do business with people they connect with.
- Small actions.
- Personal responsibility.
- Cold, hard truth.
The best way to start connecting with your tribe is by speaking to their values, and to the problems they are looking to solve. Ask yourself these questions:
- How do I create value?
- How can I offer those skills to solve my customer’s problems?
- Who cares about this?
- Who might need my solutions?
- What is the best way to get my message out?
- What other business opportunities might arise from this?
Everything you create should be part of solving the problem you’ve identified and should be in line with your talents.
However, if you truly want to be bold and stand apart from your competitors, declare What You Stand Against.
What Do You Stand Against?
Successful branding is becoming a trusted expert, resource and friend in the minds of your audience.
You don’t need a unique selling proposition. You need to define What You Stand Against.
- Wishful thinking.
- Sugar-coated B.S.
Make your What You Stand Against statement strong, simple, quick and clear. State it up front. The risk of insult is the price of clarity.
If you hesitate to say What You Stand Against, ask yourself: “Am I in this to ‘not offend?’” or “Am I in this to win?”
What’s your What You Stand Against statement?
Step 1: To determine What You Stand Against, answer these questions:
- What does your audience need?
- What’s your differentiating factor?
- How do you stand apart from your competition?
- Does your branding and design reflect What You Stand Against?
- Are you generous with your content?
Step 2: Answer these questions, taking no more than two minutes per question.
What do you know for sure that you stand for? Examine:
- Your motivations.
- Your desires.
- Your objectives.
What is your why? Why do you do what you do?
What is your passion? Do you define yourself by your passion or by what you want? Are you doing what truly excites you, what makes you happy?
What are three things that you wish to change about your industry or competition? What are you doing that is unique to what your competition is doing? You know your strengths, your uniqueness, your power, your weaknesses.
Use the information you just gathered to create a one-sentence statement of What You Stand Against.
Make sure your What You Stand Against statement is a message that speaks to the need your prospective customer feels – not self-centered words about you.
Then share What You Stand Against on your website, your social media and your marketing material.
People are bombarded with messages all day. Approximately 6,000 per day, from signage on buildings to commercials to social media.
Bore them and you’ll lose them. Especially online.
Attention spans are short and memories even shorter. Instead of boring them to tears with the same drivel everyone else is telling them, simply tell them What You Stand Against.
Here are a few examples:
- An alternative rock radio station says it’s “Beiber-free, Gaga-free with a no-Nickleback guarantee.”
- Whole Foods says, “No crates, no cages.”
After you’ve written you What You Stand Against statement:
Listen to your audience, do keyword research, discover what it wants and needs.
Speak to people’s needs. Your statement isn’t about you, it’s about them. Is the homepage of your website about you? Does it use words like you, me or I?
Define What You Stand Against. Speak forcefully against what your audience is against and your audience will more easily find you and connect with what you’re offering. Let your audience know what you are by clearly voicing what you aren’t in your products, services and messaging.
Once you’re sure you’re talking to the values of your audience, add:
- Frequency: Deliver a valued experience to your audience over and over and over.
- Consistency: Get consistent in your marketing campaigns to create brand personality. Create a memorable style.
- Anchoring: Create an association between your business and something already valued and rooted in your audience’s heart and mind. Create something they want to talk about and make it easy for them to do that.
And remember never and always: What will never be in your marketing message and pieces? What will always be in your marketing message and pieces?
Get in front of people. Offer to speak for no charge, and use words in your speech that highlight your insightful and unique business concepts. Always display your logo when speaking.
Your success depends on your ability to adapt to the shift in society’s values and on your ability to stand apart from the crowd.
Start by getting clear on what you aren’t.
Be bold. Get noticed. Get results.
Be a purple cow.
I’m going to end with a story.
I bicycle a lot in the summer. I bike past pastures and I see brown cows, black cows, white cows, spotted cows, so I keep biking. But when I see a purple cow, I stop, get off my bike, get out my phone and take a picture.
Make me stop, get off my bike and take a picture.
Be a purple cow.