Originally published on YouLaunchit.Org (an AIGA Innovate project) in 2017, and updated here with additional thoughts in 2019.
Branding. We certainly hear that word over and over and over. What does it really mean, what is it? How do we create a brand for ourselves? Even if we do this for other people as a creative, sometimes it’s even harder to create that experience for our own business.
Of course, a brand is more than a logo, we know this. But what is it? What else makes up that experience you call your brand? To this day, one of my favorite quotes is from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
The brand experience starts before people even engage with your brand; it continues through their interaction with your business and still hangs on after their engagement.
What makes up your brand experience?
Your Purpose (and Passion)
So the basics, the boring traditional shi….stuff like mission, vision, values, yup all that crap; let’s move a bit beyond that for a second. While the essence of these is important if you make the activity of defining them very robotic and checklist like, where is the heart? Where is the purpose?
So let’s perhaps take a different approach; as Simon Sinek so eloquently says, start with your why. Why did you start your business? Hint: It’s not to make money – that’s a result. Really think about why you took the leap to start the business. What is important to you, what do you want to put out into the world?
This “why” is the foundation of your entire brand experience. Without your purpose, you are just another commodity in a sea of commodities.
We have moved away from the world of Mad Men where your brand was measured by the number of times it was seen on a television ad. The world is different., We thrive on connection and engagement. It’s not about being seen more than 3 times so people will remember your product and buy it – it’s about “hey, they answered my tweet!”
To have connection, know your tribe. If you know your true tribe and those you are trying to reach, you can tailor your brand and messaging to this group. Here, focus is key; this doesn’t mean no one else can be your customer, but it helps you focus your time, resources, and effort to maximize your brand.
In a world where we are moving towards human and customer experiences, connecting with people is the key to building the best brand experience.
I’m sure that everyone can think of a brand that creates a truly immersive experience. Think about Disney: from the second you see their social media posts, to their website, to even to their booking process, they ingrain their purpose and why into everything they do. They make it memorable. This creativity and dedication to the experience lasts far beyond the actual trip to Disney.
Just think about Apple: they are consistent in their brand experience whether in-store, online, at their events, or on social media. They bring that simple clean mindset to everything they do.
How do you engage your tribe? That’s really about figuring out your brand touchpoints. If you are able to pinpoint where you can make the most impact along your tribe’s journey, you can create an experience that represents your brand and speaks to your audience. Where do you have an opportunity to make an impression with your tribe?
And once you figure that out, what can you do to bring them in? Is it an online experience, an event, a social media campaign? How can you make a difference before, during, and after they engage with your brand?
Continuous engagement: check.