Stop and ask a random person on the street what they think of when they hear the word “brand” and chances are they’ll say something about logos and clothing. Maybe they’ll say something about McDonald’s Golden Arches, or the Nike swoosh, or talk about their favorite pair of UGG’s. Ask a marketer and they’ll probably tell you that branding is much more than a logo or a label.
Your brand is the heart and face of your organization. It’s that secret sauce that makes you—you! It’s how people recognize who you are, and who you’re not. It’s what inspires your audience to become followers and what transforms your customers into fans. But, just what does that mean exactly and how can you check to be sure your branding is on-point?
Many organizations use Brand Books or Style Guides to define their brand with things like logos and colors, slogans and mission statements, t-shirts and promotional pens. But is slapping your logo onto a coffee cup effective branding? Well it might be…or it might not! As we love to say in marketing, “it all depends”.
Strategic branding is less about the coffee cup and more about the experience it creates. Of course, Brand Books and logos are important tools towards building your brand, but if you stop there then you’re missing the forest for the trees.
Whether your organization is selling widgets, delivering services, or promoting a cause, you’re actually in the business of storytelling, and your brand is the story that you’re selling.
Creating effective brand solutions means delivering magical storytelling experiences for your audience at every touchpoint. How do you do that? Well, to quote Walt Disney, “There is no magic in magic, it’s all in the details.”
Did you brand the packaging for the coffee cup? Did you create a branded shipping label? Maybe the cup comes with some ethically sourced coffee or locally-grown tea leaves? If your customer follows up with a call, how are you branding that conversation?
Every single interaction between your organization and your audience, and every experience surrounding those interactions contribute to the story of your brand. Challenge yourself to ask WHY for every detail.
The next time you’re planning for an event or updating your website or working on a new product/service, take a moment to try out the following simple but effective strategic exercise. For any publicly facing component, consider the following questions and write out a quick 1-2 sentence strategy for each.
Brand Alignment Checklist
- How does this serve our Mission?
- How does this support our Vision?
- How does this live our Values?
- How does this tell our Story?
- Who will be interested in this Story?
- How do we hope they respond to this Story?
For a lot of professionals, at first glance this might look like a common-sense exercise. But too often this kind of strategic filter goes unsaid, especially for smaller touchpoints. You’ll find that there’s a lot of power in questioning assumptions and putting pen to paper here. You might discover that maybe a coffee cup isn’t the best choice for your next promotion, or you might gain a deeper understanding for the experience that the cup really needs to create in order help tell your story and accomplish your goals. This simple checklist can apply to almost everything you do too from ordering new business cards for your next event or making a follow-up phone call.
Need help telling your story? Whether you’re planning an exhibit space, or working on a virtual event, our team of curious creative problem-solvers can help make your story unforgettable!