Our Team's Expert Discusses Key Elements of Branding
Miles has nearly 20 years of industry experience in branding some of the largest companies around, is a foremost expert in web design, logo development, and in general is an awesome guy! We love having him on our team.
Branding every client touch point
It’s Friday night and everyone’s hungry. You remember an interesting sign and facade of a new Mexican place you passed on your way to work and suggest that you all try it. When you arrive, the modern building and cool Maya-meets-grunge-meets-Rodeo Drive logo holds a big promise for an exciting night out. Everyone’s jazzed, congratulating you on your superb culinary hotspot radar.
The posted menu describes some amazing entrees—who doesn’t want to check out the lightly grilled Veracruz sea bass over a fresh jicama slaw topped with chipotle-infused foam and mango cilantro salsa? You venture in and eyebrows raise. In the darkened interior you make out rows of brown naugahyde-covered booths, a strange floral patterned carpet and a huge mural of Chichen Itza painted using the full range of the color ochre and is that a draped serape in the corner?
A disconnect has happened. The wait staff is attentive and the aroma from the kitchen is promising, but you’re concerned and your excitement has faded. Will the food match its description in the menu? What are your friends thinking? How are your stomachs going to feel in the morning?
Too often we create the same confusion for our clients as our fictional Mexican restaurant. We may have a powerful and exciting brand, but fail to monitor and maintain it at all points of contact with our clients. They’re unsure of the possible outcome of working with us—is our true brand the cool logo or our misspelled proposal? Not a strong basis for strategic advantage.
Just as critical as having a great brand is portraying it consistently. Here are some points to consider:
Clearly articulate your brand
Can you sum up your brand in three to four simple statements? If not, then it’s either too complex or not defined well enough. Clearly and simply defining what your brand is, and is not, will help make the appropriateness of a marketing concept, paper choice, new client service, wall color or any one of a thousand other decisions a business must make, self evident.
Branding goes beyond the logo
Too often we limit brand development to the logo and tagline. That doesn’t even get you a quarter of the way there. To be successful, brand development must encompass every facet of the client experience: your workplace, the manner of your personal interactions, the look and feel of your products and services, your accessibility and every printed, spoken and projected communication from business card to final billing.
Hear what Tom Geismar has to say regarding the power of the logo, in his book, Identify. “We often speak of a successful trademark as a vessel that can hold the associations relevant to the company or organization.” So, creating and consistently providing the correct associations that your logo is there to contain and symbolize is essential.
Recognize that every impression counts
We are sensory beings and spend our lives gathering information and making judgments on it. As a business owner, it’s wise to remember that as humans we’re also prone to making sometimes unlikely connections between seemingly unrelated things. Consider these examples: do you draw a correlation between a doctor’s skill and the cleanliness of his waiting room; do you judge the freshness of a fish by whether its on the menu or written on a chalkboard; have you ever considered the truthfulness of a company’s headline boasting “quality focus” or “leading-edge technology” when it appears on a poorly printed or generically designed marketing brochure; surely you’ve wondered how much your patronage is valued as you joust with an automated phone service. In client relationships, there’s no room for the confusion of a dual message. A missed opportunity to reinforce your brand is bad enough, but to communicate a contradictory or derogatory brand message compromises your established brand message by putting your credibility at risk.
Granted, one can go crazy trying to consistently manage the many factors that go into a running a business. A complete and dramatic retooling may not be in the budget, but it makes good sense moving forward to consistently look for obvious and unexpected opportunities to strengthen and reinforce your brand.
Manage every sense
Look for ways to reinforce your brand by using all five senses to create a more engaging brand experience. Is the slick, plastic-coated business card getting in the way of communicating your warm and caring message? How appropriate is the music that’s played on call waiting? Is the hard, euro-style sofa literally leaving your clients with an unpleasant “impression?” Is a generic bottle of water the most appropriate and distinctive refreshment to offer your visitors? If you consider the truly memorable experiences you’ve had in your past, you’ll note that in most cases multiple senses were brought to bear in creating and reinforcing that memory—the tug of the wind, the grit of the sand under your feet, the smell of the sea, the cry of the gulls and the flash of the sun off the water. Imagine the strength of positive multi-sensory associations for your brand.
In my next blog posting I’ll discuss how to make sure you’re communicating the correct brand message. Until then, wisely consider your ways and look for opportunities to give your clients a positive brand experience at every point of contact.
Wanna connect with Miles, let us know!