I’m having a typical conversation with a new client:
[Talks about all the things their business does and what they think they need] “and, we’re going to need you to do the brand.”
Many years of experience has taught me that we’re likely not speaking the same language.
Me: “So when you say ‘brand’, what does that mean to you?”
Client: “Well. The logo.”
Insert screeching brakes.
Folks, your logo is NOT your brand.
Your web design is not your brand.
Your business card is not your brand.
They are all key elements of your branding but none of them alone is your brand.
And this is not an uncommon conversation, in fact I have it more often than not. So why are so many people confused about what a brand is?
I think it’s because a brand is this nebulous, magical thing. It’s the holy grail of marketing; entrepreneurs are pounded with articles about creating premium brands. We read tons of articles about our “personal brand”. We even refer to businesses as “brands”. No wonder everyone is confused.
And everyone wants to be able to understand it so we grab on to something that is as concrete as ones and zeros can be: how something looks.
But brand is how you make someone feel.
Connection happens on an emotional level. Your tribe wants to interact with you and to feel like they know you. They want to be able to categorize you as funny, inspiring, or creative because it makes them feel funny, inspiring or creative by extension. They want to know that whenever they return to your site, or your store or your products, they will get what they have come to expect.
They want to know you’re their people. This is branding.
So am I saying design doesn’t matter? No.
Design is super important because design has a huge impact on how your customer feels. A website written entirely in my nemesis, Comic Sans, is going to feel less formal (and less professional) than something created with a more traditional font.
If your bio photo was taken with a flashing cell phone at a late night party, it will communicate something different than a well-lit professionally shot one.
A website using flourescent colours invokes different emotions to one using pastels.
Illana Burk of Makeness Media says, “Design is brand in action.”
You guys don’t know how badly I wish I’d come up with that line because it’s brilliant.
This is exactly what design is. Brand dictates how everything is going to go down. Design follows brand’s lead. Design helps draw people in. Brand convinces them to stay and more importantly, to return.
If you focus on logos and websites before you have figured out your brand, you may as well burn your money. While people will admire your aesthetics, they need to feel something in order to connect.
Look at it this way. I read a stat recently that said 80% of your “look” is derived from your hairstyle. Arguably, we perceive someone with “good hair” as more attractive than someone who hasn’t showered in a week.
It’s human nature to be drawn to pretty things. This is why Ryan Gosling is starring in the “Hey, girl” meme.
But no matter how gorgeous your look, if you never say anything, never give anyone any insight into what you stand for, or what you like or dislike, you also don’t give anyone a way to connect. No one ever says, “She has great hair. I really liked her.”
I think people are more likely to say, “I had this really interesting conversation with that woman about raising llamas. She told me this story about teaching a llama to drive and I almost peed myself laughing.”
The next time they see you, are they going to say, “Hey, there’s that lady with the great hair!” or are they more likely to say, “OMG there’s that hilarious woman, she tells the best stories ever. Come on, I need to introduce you.”
When your people understand you and know what to expect, they want to return and bring along their friends. This is where people switch from “site visitors” to “tribe”.
Create the proper foundation. Start with branding.
Like Maya Angelou says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Do you need help creating your brand? I have limited spaces for March 2014. Contact me to talk about your project.