The Branding Misconception
The Branding Misconception
Over the years I have had many discussions with people regarding branding. Over these 16+ years, a common misconception has come up. This misconception can lead people on a misguided path that can cause trouble for their brand later on.
This last week I was having a conversation with somebody, and this is a conversation that I’ve had with a lot of people over the last 16 years in which I’ve been helping people with their branding. In this conversation, a misconception was brought up. This misconception, I realized, isn’t something that is just an isolated incident. It didn’t just happen with this individual I was having a talk with. It’s a misconception that I’ve seen between everybody from small entrepreneur single owner shops all the way up to Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, medical industries, all sorts of places, you name it.
This misconception is actually what the term “branding” means. What I mean by that is, the misconception that I’ve seen is, so many people think that branding simply refers to your visual look. And what they fail to realize is, branding is so much more than that. Branding is the way in which you present your product, your company, yourself, whatever, to the world. The way that you present your product, company, or yourself to the world isn’t just visually. You interact with people in ways that a lot of people don’t even realize. And these ways or methods are things such as e-mail or if they have radio ads. There’s no visual aesthetic there. It’s all voice. It’s the way that the listener hears how your brand is being represented.
Perhaps you have an incoming phone system where people call in. Your brand is how people answer your phones and interact with your customers. Your brand is the way that your receipt is portrayed by the people who purchase your products. Did you hand write on the receipt? Did you just e-mail out a standard receipt? Did you add a little thank you message in there? All these different ways that you can interact with people and help represent who you are and who your brand is, is going to help them trust your brand. It’s going to help them realize that you are somebody who one, cares about who they are, because you’ve taken the time to focus your message in a way that correlates with how they’re interacting with you.
And by doing this, you discover that your brand becomes stronger. Because not only is it about how your brand looks, it’s also about how it sounds, how it tastes. If you’re in the food market, how does your food taste? It’s all part of your brand.
If somebody were to close their eyes and interact with your brand, what would they hear? How would they know that your brand was different from anybody else? Is it just simply the words that are used, or is it the way that you word everything together and you piece it together to make a story? Is it a way that they can understand and relate to you, even when they can’t see you? Branding is so much more than what a lot of people think it is. And because of that, it gets a little bit complex at times. But it’s all stuff that can be easily managed, if you know what to look for.
This next week, I was thinking that one of the things that you might be able to do to try and make your brand better is to simply try to come up with your voice. Come up with the way that you’re going to write about your brand. Are you on social media? Think about the way that you talk about your brand. Do you have a style guide of how your brand is referred to when it’s written?
Years ago, I worked for a brand, it used to be its own product and it got purchased by a much larger company. What wound up happening was, and a lot of messages for a couple years after that, they still pretended the product as simply how they were when it was a stand-alone brand or stand-alone product. And then they realized that they needed to start to change a little bit about how they presented the brand. And what that did was, it allowed them to tell the bigger story of what their brand was, and also how it correlated with other products in their product catalog. What happens then is it builds that story with the people who are purchasing, and actually helps build a little bit of trust, because they know more about you. They get the same kind of messaging each time, and it helps build a little bit of trust.
So this next week, think about how you present your brand, how you talk about it in the written way. Look at the words that you use. Are they words that correlate with your market? Are you using terms that everybody in your market understands? Are you using words that they don’t quite grasp? It’s kind of like writing a book for a five or six year old. You wouldn’t write a book that uses words that they have to go and ask their parents every single time what the word means. You want the words to fit the audience, and vice versa. If you were writing a book for an adult, you wouldn’t want to use childish words, because they would feel then that it’s not for them, and it’s meant for a child.
So in all these different ways, you can help build up your brand and make it better.