What is your brand like? Why does it exist?
You might intuitively grasp these dimensions of your business, but if forced to articulate them, you may struggle. This is because brand characteristics are often subjective and almost ethereal in nature. Accordingly, these qualities may elude your target audience—the very customers your brand qualities are meant to appeal to and persuade. If your target customers don’t truly understand your brand, including its core mission and vision, how can you expect to market to them effectively?
More importantly, how can you tell if brand understanding is even a problem?
Defining Your Brand
Everything starts with having a well-defined brand to begin with. After all, if you don’t know what your brand is like or what it stands for, how can you expect your customers to know? This should be documented and available to any personnel who regularly work on materials related to your brand. Your descriptors should be specific, and unique to your brand, identifying your core values, your vision, your mission, and the core personality traits that encapsulate your brand. If it helps, think of your brand as a person—a character—and describe how they look, act, and interact with others.
Showcasing Your Brand
You’ve mastered your own understanding of the brand, but how can you convey that to your customers, and make sure they understand it?
- Perfect the brand voice. Your first job is to perfect the “voice” of your brand, which is mostly based on the subjects and tone of your messages. This voice will permeate all your marketing and advertising strategies, and will be present anywhere your brand exists. Identifying this brand voice, and distinguishing it from those of your competitors, gives you the power to suggest all the values of your brand, throughout any visibility outlets you rely on. It’s indirect, but powerful—so long as you’re consistent.
- Rely on booklets and physical collateral. Few pieces of marketing collateral give you as much power to showcase your brand as a booklet, pamphlet, or brochure. The cost of printing booklets is reasonable, and in the span of a few pages, you can effectively sum up what your brand is and what it does. You can dedicate different sections to different elements of your brand, including who you are, how you got started, and what you’re striving to accomplish.
- Produce explainer videos. Physical marketing materials are still effective, but today’s online audience frequently demands something more convenient. Producing an explainer video—a few-minutes-long explanation of what your brand is and how it hopes to make money—is a cost-effective way to help acquaint users to your core brand values. Be sure to mention them explicitly in the script.
- Improve your About section. When customers want to learn more about a brand, the first place they look is the About page of its website. Accordingly, yours needs to be top-notch. You should mention a bit about your brand’s history, its core values and mission, and how you hope to improve the lives of your customers. It’s your chance to showcase, concisely, everything that your brand represents.
- Facilitate brand understanding on social media. Only customers looking for information about your brand will find your About page. For customers not necessarily looking, you’ll need to establish a robust social media presence. The discoverability factor here is high—so long as you consistently engage new users in discussions—and you’ll be able to do everything within the parameters of your brand voice and character.
- Let your headlines do the talking. Few users will ever get past the headlines of the content you write and share on social media, so spend significant effort polishing them. You’ll want to show off what your content is offering, but you’ll also need to sculpt them to accurately reflect your brand voice. They shouldn’t look like anyone else’s headlines.
- Demonstrate your brand values (and promote your efforts). If you want to show off your core brand values, take part in things that demonstrate those values, and write press releases and promote those efforts to the general public. For example, if you want to be known as generous and community-focused, donate money or time to a local charitable cause. If you want to be known as adventurous and daring, sponsor a stunt performance.
Following Up With Measurement
Are your strategies of promoting and showcasing the subjective qualities of your brand successful? It’s hard to tell for sure. Your best course of action is to conduct user surveys, as it’s virtually impossible to gauge subjective interpretations based on objective results like traffic or conversion rates. Through user surveys, you can ask customers what they think your brand stands for, or ask them to circle qualities on a list that they feel best describe your brand.
If you miss the mark, don’t sweat it; misconceptions about your brand simply illuminate areas that you need to work harder to emphasize. The more information you gather, the more effective you’ll be.