When we think of branding we tend to think of logos, slogans and trademarks. If we dig a little deeper we might start to think about brands in terms of mission statements, core values and personality.
However, your brand is so much more than just a series of words and logos that make you look good but rather a way of life.
What is a brand anyway?
According to the Intellectual Property Office, a brand can be much more than a trade name, logo or slogan…
“It can also be a ‘promise of experience’ and conveys to consumers a certain assurance as to the nature of the product or service they will receive and also the standards the supplier or manufacturer seeks to maintain.”
“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
Your brand defines your identity and shows your customers who you are, why they should trust you and why they should come to you rather than your competitors. Try saying all that with a logo!
How do you truly live your brand?
The key to great branding is consistency.
“It’s incredibly important because consistency in itself is also a brand promise you are always delivering on” – Björn Von Matérn, Vice-President of corporate communications at Absolut.
There’s a wealth of information out there about the importance of consistency in branding (a quick Google search will find you some great information and tips about this). However, the importance of actually living your branding, every day, in everything you do, is often neglected.
Here’s a few tips to help you incorporate your brand in your day to day life…
Never forget your mission
Your mission statement should be a formal summary of the values and goals of your business and may be expanded to include your core values and ethics. Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? What value can you offer?
Writing a mission statement to that makes you sound good is easy. The difficult part is making sure you and your team live your mission statement and inject it into everything you do.
A great example of a company living their mission is Zappos who claim they’ve “aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible”.
While Zappos are essentially a shoe retailer, they’ve built their entire brand around customer service and they never fail to live up to their promise (Google Zappos customer service for some great customer stories).
Tip: Make sure your team know your mission statement inside out and understand their role in making your mission a reality.
Bring your brand into your office
Surrounding yourself with your brand will remind you and your team of your goals and keep you on the right track to achieving them. That’s not to say you need to print your logo, mission statement and core values all over your walls in the company colours…
“Carry any identifying factors through the space, be its color, a shape or idea. If your company is based on the fact that you are a small, but modern business, make sure that the furniture and lighting send the right message. No one is going to believe that you take your company seriously if you say you are modern as you sit on a flowery Victorian couch you inherited from your grandmother. It is all about the message and the image telling the same story.” – Isabelle Glinka, LUX Design
Tip: Try to visualise what your brand looks like, not necessarily just your logo. If your brand is clean and simple, keep your office free of clutter. If your brand is ‘quirky’ and fun, why not paint the walls bright colours and hang up some cool artwork?
Speak your website copy IRL
Hopefully, you’ve injected your brand’s personality into your website copy. But do you use that same tone of voice in real life? Is it really your voice at all?
If your website copy is corporate and serious, showing up to a meeting cracking jokes, wearing jeans and a t-shirt is going to leave your clients confused at best and feeling cheated and unable to take you seriously at worst.
You don’t have to choose between serious and entertaining but you do need to make sure that your appearance and the language you use in your website and other marketing copy is an accurate reflection of your personality, and ultimately, your brand’s personality.
Tip: Try reading some of your copy out loud. Are these the words you’d use when explaining the page to a friend? If not, you need to reconsider either the tone you’re using on your website, or the way you’re explaining your business in real life.
Remember, your brand adapts, just like you do
Chances are, as your business grows, it’s going to change and adapt. You might even end up changing tack completely.
In order to truly live your brand, you need to make sure your brand is keeping up with you.
“The best brands are living breathing things: They need to evolve and change just like we do… Rebrands are often a wake up call that brands have failed to move with the times and thus need to ‘do a rebrand’. When you have to do a rebrand, it’s critical you get your customers and employees involved in the process but still give yourself the responsibility of setting the vision for the brand.” Paul Cash, author of In Remarkable We Trust
How does you carry your brand through into real life?