Too often people associate brands with fabrication and the illusion of authority – we are this, we represent that. In actual fact, when was the last time you saw a brand which you respect, communicating in such a manner?
To create a brand with real cut through in 2017, we need to look much more inwardly than outwardly, contrary to what large organisations would have us historically believe. In the modern age where anyone can find out almost anything about a person or company with some basic tools and tenacity, the biggest opportunity available to companies looking to create, grow, or develop their brand, is transparency.
Transparency is still seldom utilised to full effect in 2017. Perhaps that’s because many brands that dominate the public eye, still don’t share a real, burning purpose or belief, beyond the desire to make more money. Is it likely we’ll go out tomorrow and see Tesco openly advertising their willingness to exploit smaller businesses in their supply chains in order to line the pockets of shareholders? Of course not.
What this does create though, is opportunity for the smaller businesses, who do have a true raison d'être engrained within their culture to be open, and share it with the world, to openly put out their beliefs, and in return, they just might be rewarded with a loyal, die-hard customer base, who real value the unique perspective offered over any price driven motivations. And that is something which can not be bought, regardless of what Tesco’s CMO might have you believe.
In essence, the key here is to establish your values, and communicate them as openly as possible. Tell people your story, how things came to be, and on occasion, inject some emotion into your brand – emotions move people and help build connections with your brand.
Building a fan base, rather than a customer base should be your aim. If this seems difficult, look back to your organisation’s routes. Why did the company start out in business, how are you trying to improve things above and beyond the competition? What do you offer, that others don’t? How do you try and change things? Often there is no single big element which defines a unique offering, rather a group of activities which you undertake, or approach differently, which others do not. The little things, which can make the biggest of differences to the overall experience a customer receives.
It can be easy to take such differentiating points for granted, so ask your best customers – What do they value in your offering, why did they feel initially compelled to buy from you, and why do they continue to do so? From there you can build a true picture of your offering, and where you are able to add value.
Sometimes the results can be surprising. Often entrepreneurs are so caught up in the day to day running of a business, that they fail to see what’s right in front of them.
Next you need to consider who your customers are, what language are they familiar with, what do they spend their time doing, how do they spend their weekends? Where do they live? Etc. Once you’ve built a true and accurate profile of your audience, you can begin to establish the most appropriate channels to use to get in front of them, and how you go about this.
Positioning is key here, and keep the long term vision in mind, sometimes you need to risk an alienation of some of your existing customer base in order to reach more of your ideal audience, which ultimately helps your business to grow, and become more profitable. Once you’ve been through this process, of really drilling down into your company, your customer base, and your culture, begin to write this all down. Build a mission statement, establish your point of view, work out what your most want to communicate and say – this will all help in creating the foundations of a great, sustainable brand and your subsequent visual identity.