What’s behind the good looks?
We’ve established that the visual aspect of your organization is critical to communicating the distinct identity and intentions of your brand. We know that allowing personal preferences to guide color, design and aesthetic is no way to anchor a brand and attract an audience.
So, what is the anchor we drop to authentically visually portray a brand and build a loyal audience?
The first step is to get your story straight. Start at the core: “What are we about? What do we stand for? What is the real business of this brand” Essentially, know the story you’re “illustrating.” Answering those question will take work.
Go to the root. Beyond making money (which we never, ever dismiss) perhaps your brand is about providing confidence, freedom, sustainability, peace of mind, understanding, opportunity… we could go on, but you get the gist. It could revolve (and evolve) around anything that goes deeper than pure facts and figures.
Beyond the naked eye
Three things that a successful brand identity should do:
- Communicate what you do
This certainly includes your specific product and/or service—we never want to get too clever for our own good and obscure our deliverable. But to define yourself above and beyond the herd, visuals need to communicate past the images of the car, or widget, or basic service you sell, to why you’re in business, at a deeper level. This allows your marketing to take an authentically different approach. With a strong sense of brand self, you don’t necessarily need to show an image of a car with a headline that honks—you can be more aspirational, attractive and longer-lasting.
- Creatively stand out
We’ve looked into the navel of the brand and determined the authentic “why.” Now on a creative and process front, how do we harness and manifest that story into something that breaks through and stands out?
Part of our creative branding process includes exploring and defining four to six attributes that are genuine to your brand, generally adjectives. It’s a thoughtful winnowing and editing of sometimes dozens of characteristics. Once we lock down those elevated traits, we have a place to hang our creative hat. It focuses the work and removes personal preference from the mix. This attribute discovery aids both the visual and verbal aspects of the brand. It gives you grounds for rationale and helps to remove subjectivity from the process, and the result.
- Attract your customers
Yes, we know, “Dah.” To attract your customer is to know your customer, AND your competitors, including indirect competitors. Seek out the insight into what else and who else is competing for your customers’ attention. Discovering who, outside your industry, is resonating, and how they are resonating, with your target audience, yields lessons for your own brand strategy.
When you study the competitive landscape, you can accurately determine how to prioritize your brand attributes. Depending on your competitors, the market conditions and other industry-specific factors, you can choose to move an attribute to the forefront. You’re tailoring and strategizing your brand identity while remaining true to your core values and motivation. This thinking directly relates to how your brand is built visually. Color and design and photographic style all have an art and a science behind them. Brand yourself intentionally. Attract attention and customers on purpose.
To that point
Upon creative brand presentation, one of our most successful customers, said, “I personally don’t like this. I would never wear it. This isn’t for me. BUT, I completely recognize that I’m not even close to being in the target audience, and I think this is absolutely on the mark for those we’re talking to. Let’s go.”
That was brave.
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