Tips for Unifying Your Brand: Part One
“Who are you?” asks the Caterpillar upon meeting Alice. “I—I hardly know, sir, just at present,” replies the confused heroine of Lewis Carroll’s famous story about Wonderland.
Many business owners end up feeling a bit like Alice—overwhelmed, unsure and perhaps even a little irritable—when it comes to branding. This is unfortunate because branding is actually all about simplifying your life. Good, unified branding creates credibility and trust. It helps showcase your company’s personality, and it generates more than customers—it generates advocates.
So how do you develop a unified, cohesive branding message?
There are really two parts to this process—an internal and an external component. The internal phase—which we’ll discuss here—requires you to establish your business’s identity; develop its personality; and zero in on your target audience. It’s only once these things are done that you can move on to the external phrase—brand development, implementation and feedback—which we’ll discuss in part two.
Some business owners may think they’ve already taken the internal steps. But if you’re not consistently meeting your marketing objectives, it might be wise to take a step back and do a little reevaluating before launching your next campaign.
Alice gets caught off guard when the Caterpillar asks her who she is. Do you find yourself in the same position, struggling to capture your business’s distinctive identity as you try to market?
Your company’s identity shapes its framework and drives its progress. It reflects your business’s commercial character. And according to a Harvard Business Review article, having a strong one will help your business perform significantly better than its competitors.
Three key components are involved in the creation of your corporate identity:
- Value proposition—What value are you offering to your customers?
- Capabilities system—What abilities do you possess to ensure you deliver that value?
- Product/Service—What product(s) or service(s) will leverage those capabilities?
You’ll notice that the actual product or service is the last item on the list. That’s because a company’s identity isn’t just about its products. Rather a company’s identity shows people what kind of company it is, and why a potential customer would want to put their trust in that company.
General Electric’s current tagline is “Imagination at work.” Prior to that, it was “We bring good things to life.” Neither of those actually talk about GE’s products and services. Rather, the taglines showcase the company’s identity, its philosophy. It doesn’t matter if GE sells lightbulbs, aircraft engines or financial products. What matters is if those products and services help bolster GE’s corporate identity.
Highlight your company’s personality
Your corporate identity involves developing goals and a vision for your company. But you also have to cultivate your business’s personality. What exactly does that mean?
The development of a company’s personality should be guided by the company’s identity and mission statement. This ensures consistent presentation of messaging.
Every decision your company makes, from the products it sells to the font it uses, should reinforce your company’s personality.
Customers, professional associates, the media and the general public will all interact with your company. What conclusions do you want them to draw? How do you want them to perceive your company?
How would you describe your company’s aesthetic? Are you aiming for fun and playful? Or are you positioning your company as serious and thoughtful? Do you want to be known as innovative, and perhaps even a bit of a risk taker? Or is it important that your customers see you as dependable and traditional?
Coke vs Pepsi. McDonald’s vs Burger King. Dunkin’ Donuts vs Starbucks. FedEx vs UPS.
Even though each of these rivals essentially offer fundamentally similar products and services, their corporate personalities are significantly different from each other. These different personalities attract different customers. You want customers who not only appreciate your company’s personality, but also those who have similar values.
Define your audience
In order to find those customers, you have to do your research. Because your goal isn’t to be all things to all people, you should have a target audience in mind.
To establish who your target audience is, you have to consider three major factors: demographics, location and interests.
- Demographics are statistics regarding human populations. These data points can include age, religion, marital status, educational background and annual salary.
- Location can be specific to a city or region, or be more general, like suburbs or beach communities.
- Interests include personal characteristics and behaviors, such as sports affiliations, pet ownership, group memberships and general hobbies.
Clearly, what drives a Gen X soccer mom to make a purchase is very different than what drives a eco-conscious, tech savvy member of Gen Z. Therefore, how you market to them must also differ.
But what happens if you need to target both groups? It’s absolutely possible for you to have a number of audiences you need to reach—each with their own needs, goals and points of view. Instead of developing a single, generic message that won’t capture your audience’s attention, let alone lead to a decent return on investment, consider the benefit of targeted marketing geared toward the individual segments of your audience.
Once you know who your audience is and what your audience wants, you have to figure out how you can deliver it in a way that makes your company stand out as unique. That’s where the second phase of this process—the external component—comes into play. This is the stage that most people associate with branding—choosing a color palette, designing a logo, setting up social media accounts.
There’s actually a lot more to developing and maintaining a cohesive, unified brand though. We’ll discuss developing a comprehensive visual identity, compiling a brand guide, and understanding the importance of experiential identity in part two of Tips for Unifying Your Brand.
Consistent branding requires cohesive messaging throughout the process. At 360 PSG, we give thought and attention to your brand’s unification every step of the way. Before we build your website, create your content or implement your new social media campaign, we’ll sit down with you and help you develop your identity, set your goals and pinpoint your target audience.