Branding may be the most overused word in marketing. We consultants especially like to dangle the word like it is an elusive, hard to obtain concept. Truth is, branding is easy if you keep it simple. So let’s keep it simple and maybe it can steer away from the unnecessary complexed theories that make branding a dirty little word.
Your brand is your reputation
David Bohan, Chairman of successful Nashville-based BOHAN Advertising & Marketing used to say, “branding is what people say about you when no one is around.” He’s correct. Branding is a lot like what we learned in high school. It’s our reputation and what others are saying about us. Of course, we can affect what others are saying.
You are what you say you are
My grandmother used to tell me that whatever came out of my mouth would effect how people perceived me. She was right. If your voice is corporate and lacks personality, don’t be surprised if customers see you as stodgy and a little sterile. If you are personal and fun with your voice, those characteristics will filter into your brand personality.
You are what others say you are
If you believe in this concept then you’ll invest more time listening to your customers (and perhaps non-customers). You’ll also purposefully do things that give people a reason to talk about you. Great advertising has been a social media concept for years - long before modern social media. Of course the key has always been you had to first give people a reason to share your idea or product. An easy method I use to guide this concept is WWBRD. What would Bonnie Raitt do? The answer is simple (if you know her most famous song). She’d give them something to talk about. So purposefully give your customers something to talk about. This requires knowing them and being relevant to something they care about that can relate back to your product. That’s easy. Right?
Use your senses
Branding is all about being memorable and distinct. Use the five sense you learned in grade school. If you can apply your product’s branding to reach customers in these areas you will have a greater chance at being memorable.
Sight. Of course the more visually interesting you can be the better. But beware, this is the most used branding element. It is the most cluttered and the most difficult to cut through.
Touch. The ergonomics of a product can make it more memorable. That’s why Moo business cards have become big hits lately.
Sound. Audio branding should not be overlooked. McDonald’s and Intel have done a great job at creating a distinct sound always associated with their products.
Taste. Sure taste is easy if you’re selling food. You’d be surprised how a great photo of food can conjure up the senses of taste.
Smell. A Harvard study determined that smell is the most difficult sense to bring into branding, but it also creates a bigger impact than all the other sense combined.
That should do it. Let’s keep branding simple by keeping it human and personal. People have always preferred to do business with others when they have a relationship. If we focus on the individual relationship I think our brands can be strong.