Let’s cut to the chase. The music industry knows a little something about branding, and here’s some of your favorite songs by Destiny’s Child to prove it.
What’s in a name? Shakespeare was onto something here. As much as we fight against arbitrary labels, they help guide us through the world in which we live. We read and hear names on a daily basis. People, places and things. For “brands,” in a very loose form of the word, nomenclature becomes a sense of iconography that lives in our minds forever. Simply adding or leaving out letters in your brand name can have a large impact on your uniqueness. Place a solitary “.” on your website or collateral, and watch the world enjoy your outright rebellion against letters. But, even then, what are you going to be called? Dot? Period? Point? Think about your brand name very carefully before deciding on a word or symbol. Your brand name will always be remembered by someone, even if you change it down the road.
Longevity is the secret sauce to your soup of success. Now that you have a great name, you need to make sure it becomes well-known and beloved. Let’s talk in Darwin terms, here—survival of the fittest. If your brand can’t eat the other brands for dinner, you have a problem. Seriously, you want to make sure that your product, service or company gives people that good “gut” feeling. We’ve seen many brands go down the drain—Oldsmobile, Pan Am, Circuit City, Kyocera, Compaq, Kmart, Aerópostale, Big Lots, Blackberry, Goody’s—and even though some of these still “exist,” they are mere shadows of their former selves. They have been overshadowed by bigger brands like Ford Motor Co., Wal-Mart, Apple, Belk, Dillard’s, Nike, Coca-Cola, Subway, McDonald’s and many others that are keeping their marketing tactics fresh. If you can’t be a front runner, dig your grave now.
Listen, you better write a love song for your customers. To a degree, catering to your audience is exactly what keeps them coming back for more. Does Apple sell fried food? No. They give users what they want—yearly updated iPhones, Macs, iPods, watches and accessories. However, note that they’re taking smart risks by changing up features that users love—e.g., they gave headphone jacks the boot and unveiled the AirPods. Apple can manage risk because they are a veteran brand, and they provide new products and solutions for every concern their users have. With every new change they present, they are setting a standard for other brands. They are the standard. They don’t change to fit their customers only, they also make their customers change to fit them as a brand. It works both ways once you’re that influential.
Connecting with your audience is the best brand move you can make—you won’t get far without an emotional appeal. Creating a brand atmosphere that’s engaging will help you connect with multiple audiences. Brand reveals, debut parties, online forums and thought leadership are a few things that are helpful in building that personal connection. Think about Disney; nearly everyone globally knows the brand. As a parent or child, we fall in love with this brand over and over again. Walt Disney had a tough start, but once he solidified his role as the premier animation house, the brand skyrocketed. He changed up the movie-making process. He let his emotion become the brand driving force, and it became something that millions of people all over the world love and cherish, and copy, today. And emotion is so largely impactful that Disney has made a movie about it called “Inside Out.” Live and learn.
Let’s talk money. You’re in the business of selling, regardless of what you do with the money. You have to sell to survive financially. Invest in extensive research before pricing your product or service to make sure it’s viable. Look to competitor markets. Consumers, myself included, often overpay for products we like because brand appeal can sway the buyer’s wallet. But in general, if the price of your product or service doesn’t match the quality, you’ll lose big. Beware of market segmentation. For example, if you’re looking to enter a luxury market, be prepared to provide a higher quality product and customer service; and look into a public relations plan that will help you reach the world’s elite.
With that, I hope you have some advice in your head and a song in your heart. Brands take time to nurture and grow, so have a little faith in the beginning of your adventures. If you’re struggling to get yourself out there, or if you’ve hit a lull in your branding efforts, reevaluate your brand in terms of visualization and content strategy. Make sure everything is working together and not causing dissonance. And, if you need, Designsensory is always here to help harmonize your brand. Contact us today!