Posts Tagged ‘honest’

Branding – The mechanics of Branding

by Laura Lowell on November 6, 2009

mechanicsA well designed brand is like a well designed car – lovely to look at, lots of power, and can really take you places.  The power of a brand is based on how well it can convince people to buy your stuff.  There are countless definitions of what a brand is, and regardless of your definition, if the brand doesn’t help you sell more stuff, then, it isn’t doing its job.

All brands are built with three essential elements:  Personality, Message and Identity.

Brand Personality: Defining the underlying personality of a brand is sometimes difficult, but is always necessary if the rest of the brand elements are to come together.  The personality reflects what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your brand. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term, usually an adjective.

Authentic, Creative, Innovative, Approachable

Trustworthy, Trendy, Cool, Desirable, Reliable

Relevant, Honest, Flexible, Unique, Relevant

How you define the personality determines the tone and voice of your brand, and therefore all your communications.  A brand that is “hip, cool, trendy” sounds decidedly different from one that is “honest, trustworthy, reliable”.

Brand Message: What do you customers need from you?  Why should they choose your brand of product or service over another one?  What can your brand deliver that no one else can?  The answers to these questions form the foundation of your messages.    I have found it useful to create three core messages based on these customer needs.  Each of these messages needs to be supported by “proof points” which are specific, measurable and relevant to the audience.  For example, think of Brand X as a car.

Brand X is BETTER:  safety record, flexible seating arrangements, trade-in options

Brand X is CHEAPER:  gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance costs

Brand X is FASTER:  redesigned engine, chassis, performance measurements

Which of these messages best reflects the brand is based on the brand personality and the needs of our customers.  It is not based on what we think sounds good, what is easy for us to prove, or what our boss thinks.   At least it shouldn’t be anyway…

Brand Identity: Ask ten graphic designers their opinion of a company logo and you’ll get ten different answers.  Brand design is the aesthetic that communicates the underlying message and personality of the brand.  There are five core elements to any brand identity:

Logo

Tagline

Typography

Photography

Color

How these elements work together are explained in “Brand Guidelines”.  These help anyone working with the brand know what to do and not to do with the brand.  Combined with templates (Presentations, documents or web pages for example) and standardized collateral (business cards, signage and such) your brand begins to take form.  From here on, it is all about execution.

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Branding – Your brand lives both online and offline

by Laura Lowell on November 5, 2009

There seems to be a perception that online communication is radically different from offline communication.  I strongly disagree.  As Jennifer Jacobson said in her new book, “Communication is communication, both online and offline.”  The tactics are certainly different, but the objective, tone and purpose is the same.  It amazes me when I hear of people pretending to be someone else online – especially professionally.  Yes, there are the stories where it worked to the persona’s advantage, but most of the time, this is not the case.

One of my favorite online/offline stories is about Britney Mason (aka Dave Peck).  Dave was (and still is) a middle-aged father of five, by his own description.  He was new to social media and created a fictional person, Britney Mason, who developed a really big following based on her knowledge of social media and her big boobs (again, Dave’s description).  No one had met her, they had just interacted online. One thing led to another and finally Dave was forced to fess up on national TV with a profile on CNBC.  For Dave, and Britney, things turned out OK. But this is definitely the exception and not the rule.

For most of us, we need to carefully consider our behavior and how it affects our brand, both online and offline.

Online: Online conversations have been compared to a cocktail party.  In “real life” you wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party, or a networking event, or other gathering and start shouting “look at me!”  The same holds true for online communication.  Here are some of the rules of online etiquette you should try and follow:

  • Be authentic: don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
  • Be honest: lies, even little ones, will come back to haunt you.
  • Be polite: DON’T YELL AT PEOPLE IN ALL CAPS!
  • Be relevant: in a conversation, don’t change the subject to suite your needs.
  • Be friendly: make friends as they are the foundation of your network.

Offline: Offline conversations are more natural for most of us since we’ve been having these all our lives.  Not surprisingly, the rules of polite behavior are pretty much the same whether you’re online or in person.  In person, you can tell almost immediately if someone is being authentic, if they are trying to pull a fast one on you, or only care about what you can do for them. These are the folks who say “thanks” but you know they don’t mean it.

In a recent study I conducted I asked professionals to rank a list of activities based on how important they are in communicating your personal brand.  10 being the most important and 1 being the least important.  The results are interesting:

  • Personal presence and speaking ability are the most important elements when communicating your personal brand
  • Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn – while important – are less relevant than articles, books or your website.

Branding online and offline

What does that tell us?  Your brand lives both online and offline.  We are no longer one or the other; we are now a combination of our personal presence on our social profiles, our speaking ability and our books and blogs.

When it comes to building your brand, remember, we are who we are.  Who we are doesn’t change based on whether we’re online or offline.  Unless you’re Dave Peck, of course…

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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