Recently we were asked for feedback on a new “brand.” Someone sent us his logo. We wanted to scream, “Your brand is more than your logo!”
Having a unique and memorable logo that can last the test of time is important. What’s more important is what stands behind it. Part of your brand is what you say about your company. But predominantly, your brand is every experience your target audience has with your company. It’s both rational and emotional, and you want to control that.
An effective way to do that is to document your brand in a brand platform, which represents the purpose of your company, what you stand for and how everything you do is represented. Share it with your team and other partners that help you market and communicate. Your brand then needs to be activated and managed consistently both internally and externally. Each employee and every touchpoint are opportunities to help promote your brand — or slowly degrade it.
The components of a brand platform vary based on industry, tenure and size. Elements can include:
- Mission/vision — aspirational, yet tangible, this is your purpose now and into the future.
- Values — what your company stands for, the DNA of your organization that guide behavior. When followed, they help support the culture.
- Position — the space or specific industry area you want your brand to play in.
- Differentiators — what makes your brand stand out.
- Promise — what customers should expect from every interaction with your brand, often referred to as your value proposition.
- Personality —human traits that convey the character of your brand. The brand personality of Disney is quite different than that of Goldman Sachs.
- Tone of voice — your personality brought to life through the words you choose and the way you say/write them.
To create a brand platform, talk with your team about their perceptions of your brand, then move to the target audience. Understanding the internal and external views of your brand is critical in creating a relevant platform. Ask what words they use to describe the brand, and why. What does the brand mean to them? How does it compare to others in the same category? What is the experience of purchasing and using your product or service?
Once your brand platform is defined, bring it to life visually or update your visual representation. The logo is part of your visual identity, which includes colors, fonts, image style, etc. It’s the face of your brand. But there is more to it than what people see. Your designer will thank you for having words defining and describing your brand.
Finally, applying your brand begins internally. Start with your employees, as they are representing the brand with every action and decision. Consider:
- An interactive townhall to share.
- A culture video that can be used at the townhall, on social and on your website.
- Merchandise to support your new brand.
With external activation, review touch points including marketing and communications, service and HR policies. Does everything you say and do consistently reflect who you say you are and what you stand for? Are you hiring for brand fit? This is the discipline that creates strong, trusted, valuable brands. Maintaining your brand is ongoing, and once you’ve defined your brand platform, it should have the integrity to last several years with slight updates annually.
Your logo or colors are not your brand. It’s what your mark represents and what you as a leader stand for. Tell your authentic story. Because if you don’t, someone else will. ●
Dean Ilijasic is co-founder of Long & Short of It