This past week I presented four sessions on building an awesome brand at the Optimization Summit in Dallas. For those who were there, and those who weren’t, here are some of the key take-aways and a few online resources to support the presentations.
Build an Awesome Brand – Session by Session
Session I – Brand Foundations
An Awesome Brand is:
- Making a promise to the customer that is not about the product or service you happen to sell…
- Combined with a personality that gives your business human-like qualities.
- An unwavering focus on following through on your brand promise.
- Pervasive delivery of that promise.
Everything starts with your brand promise, which is based on your true identity. Look inside first. Develop your promise by getting in touch with your values, and clarifying a customer-focused mission. Answer the two primary questions in branding: Who am I? – Why do I exist?
When you can make a promise to customers that has impact, develop a tagline that communicates your brand promise in a memorable way. A tagline is your best brand communication tool. Don’t settle on a simple descriptive tagline, get one that stands out and fits your brand personality.
Session II – Visual Brand Identity
An awesome visual brand identity is necessary to a) get attention b) make a memorable visual impact c) communicate your brand message. To develop your visual brand identity, remember these three pairs:
- Vision & Sequence
- Vision – Vision is our most important sense. It takes up 50% of our brains resources. Our brains remember things in pictures. Even words are remembered as series of little pictures.
- Sequence – There is a brand discovery sequence by which customers become aware of you: 1) You get their attention 2) They ask, “What is it?” 3) They want to know, “Why is it important?”
- Unexpectedness & Contrast
- Unexpectedness – Our brains are trained to ignore most of what we see. If you want to be noticed you have be something that people don’t expect. If everything else looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, be a ballerina.
- Contrast – Each industry has it’s own look and feel. Use contrast to create a visual identity that gets noticed.
- Unexpectedness + Contrast = Attention
- Personality & Cohesion
- Personality – Don’t be a boring visual business. Add personality to your identity. Inject your brand personality into all your visual elements.
- Cohesion – Everything people see about your business should look like you. That means means visual consistency across all platforms: Logo, Signage, advertising, business cards, sales materials, website, and in-store experience. Create an internal style sheet that spells out your visual identity
Session III – Brand Integration
All the work you do on your brand is wasted if the customer doesn’t experience what they expect from you based on your promise and your identity. We’re talking about loyalty and word of mouth here. Past experience is the number one reason whether or not customers will purchase with you again. The brand experience also provides the spark for word of mouth.
To integrate your brand foundation and identity into your customers’ experience, begin by framing the experience with a theme. Then map out their experience based on the emotions you want to create. Inject memorable “magic spots” in each major phase of the experience.
After you map the customer’s experience, hire and train employees to deliver that experience. Hire new employees based their ability to deliver your brand promise and how their personality matches your brand’s personality.
Then develop a Brand Aptitude Manual that trains employees in these key areas:
- Brand Foundations – Your brand promise and personality.
- Brand Commandments – Spell out you must-do’s and don’ts for your employees. Don’t expect them just to know.
- Situational Thinking – You are probably hiring people to deliver an experience that they themselves have never received. Get them thinking like your brand by quizzing them with situational questions. “If you encounter this customer event, what do you do?”
Session IV – Optimize Your Online Brand
Once you’ve created your awesome brand, you want it to be found online. There are four primary optimization spots:
- Search – Get found by search engines and listed in local search results by search optimizing your website, claiming your listings on the major search engines, and getting online customer reviews.
- Website – Create relevant content on your website. That means filling your website pages with stuff that potential customers will search for on Google. Make sure you create relevant search-friendly titles for each page on your website and put your company address and phone number, in text, on your website.
- Social Media – Customers who follow your business on social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter are more inclined to purchase from you because feel like they are part of your tribe. Use these social media channels to engage and interact with customers, not to post advertising messages.
- Advertising – Advertising on the web is not just Google Adwords. Facebook offers a business advertising platform that lets you target more sharply that Google. You can spend as little as $1 a day advertising on Facebook. Another option for online advertising is Yelp, and you can post free ads on Craigslist.