Picture yourself sitting on a therapist’s couch. In his hands are a stack of pictures, each with emblems that are incredibly familiar to you. She asks, “what does each of these make you think of?” as she slides each to you in between responses. You reply, “warmth, familiarity.. and this one, ‘just do it.’ “ Now what was the last one? For anyone in the English-speaking part of the world, of course it’s Nike, one of the world’s most familiar brands. Can you guess what the first two were?
Actually, don’t, because to anyone, forming a link between emotions and marketed brands may be different for anyone. But as you read the story and were presented with Nike, did you not find other brands to fit those feelings?
Creating an emotional response is the coveted prize of advertisers. But how do they do it? It’s done with branding. More importantly, it’s done with a brand’s message.
Your brand conveys to customers, through advertising and consistency of your methods what you are offering to the marketplace. Your business’ message creates a promise that can be fulfilled by attaining your goods and services versus others in the marketplace. Your branding conveys what your brand is, what it stands for, and what customers can expect from everything beneath the umbrella of your company.
How can we create this association?
What Makes Your Brand?
To determine what your consumers view your brand as, we must first determine what type of brand we are. Is your line of products the new maverick that seeks to boldly disrupt accepted norms, or the old, time-tested stalwart that consistently delivers on its promises? Is your brand the expensive type that shows sophisticated taste and a showy presentation, or is your brand the practical choice of modest consumers? A few guidelines to determine your brand’s message:
- What are the features and benefits of your services and products?
- What do your current customers already associate with your company?
- What qualities would you want customers to associate your company?
- What is your company’s mission?
Emphasizing the specific qualities in your products and services that you wish to show to consumers is the first step towards creating your brand’s message. Make sure you’re consistent and uniform with your message—is it refined or is it a visceral, in-your-face product? Marketing skateboards and yachts require two different approaches. The same goes for virtual products, like Dropbox’s simplicity and inoffensive layout, to CNN’s red, black and white theme that evokes urgency and importance.
Once you’ve settled on what type of brand you own, you must think about the who, the what, the where, the when, and the how of your brand’s message. Just as you’ll never see advertisements for yachting companies at football matches, your advertising must match your target markets. Your tone, distribution channels, phrasing, website—all must be consistent to not confuse your audience. For more information on determining your target market, be sure to check out our article here.
How to Spread Your Brand’s Message
In order to spread your brand’s message so that it is echoed through the marketplace, you must do a number of things:
- Create a compelling logo: Design a professional-looking logo that is simple to reproduce and abstractly says things about the consumer.
- Integrate your brand: Make your brand ubiquitous. From the on-hold music to the advertising copy, seek to have your brand’s message permeate every facet of your business, including both private and public communications.
- Make your motto: Create a meaningful, concise, and—above all—memorable statement that encapsulates everything your brand represents.
- Consistency in your standards: From color schemes, logo placement and orientation, fonts, look and feel through, never waver from what you’ve decided to represent. When a company changes drastically, it can upset an entire company’s hard-earned message and dilute it with uncertainty.
- Deliver on your promises: Words can only go so far. Make sure your company delivers on your promises by making an exceptional product.
The Benefits of Your Brand’s Message
The advantage of having your brand convey a message is higher brand equity. Taking Coca-Cola versus a generic product illustrates how just branding—not necessarily quality–can induce consumers to pay more for products. Now, taking two rivals, like Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola, we can see that both brands are more evenly matched, almost making the decision downright confusing. Both even have a similar message, so for a consumer, the decision is difficult.
Doing more with less is also appealing for a company with a well-developed message. While advertising never stops, neither does the associations that consumers have echoing in their decision-making even in the absence of advertising. If you’ve made your brand’s message synonymous with solving their problems and creating value, you’ve won the battle.
For any future products you come up, it’ll take less and less to create consumer loyalty. Think of established brands, like Apple. Do they have to spend more to advertise each subsequent iPhone in the series, or is the series itself a perpetuating cycle of quality that consumers can expect?
With these benefits, it should be plain to see why you should establish and cultivate your brand’s message. Without it, you’ll be faced with an uphill struggle to convince the marketplace of anything. Getting back on the therapist’s couch, when she shows you a picture of a successful brand, is it yours?