When building our brand it can become easy to focus on one aspect. For example, how it looks. The design and aesthetics.
But that can only be effective when the other forces that increase brand equity are managed well.
The stronger your brand equity is, the more likely someone will choose your brand over someone else who does the same thing.
And remember, in today’s crowded market place, people don’t buy the thing. They buy the experience/value and what it represents. Why do you think people buy Apple products when there are better products in the market place. Because it represents a belief and philosophy that connects with their followers.
The way I look at a brand is akin to a multi layered sphere. There are many layers to a brand. The outer layer is the logo, design and visual elements. But what gives it meaning and substance and the pull factor is more than skin deep.
There are many layers to a brand
The outer layer is the logo, design and visual elements. But what gives it meaning and substance is so much more than just an image.
For example, the heart beat and voice of your brand, the story, the vision, philosophy, mission, etc. The stuff that is often overlooked when launching a new business. But we are not going to go into detail about that in this blog.
We all get carried away with the aesthetics and how our brand looks, It’s normal. However, we cannot avoid the other elements and layers for long.
Eventually, we’ll get stuck, and wonder why our brand is not gaining traction. Sooner or later we will need to look at the other layers that make up our brand and have to answer some tough questions like why people should care. And even more importantly, why as a business owner you should care?
Why? Because if you want a brand that is unique and stands out without worrying about the competition, you’ll need to start focusing on all the layers that make up your brand, equity and value. That cannot be replicated. It is a lot easier to replace a logo, tagline or colour scheme than it is to replace the heart and soul of your brand (which is worth a lot more).
And in the rest of this blog, I will be breaking these layers down into 4 forces that get your people to go, YES! I CHOOSE YOU!
So what are the key forces that increase your brand’s equity or value
If these forces are managed well and consistently, brand equity increases. Ignore one and leave it out of your communications plan, equity decreases in value.
1. How it speaks & feelings it evokes (brand voice + heart beat)
Voice can be defined as the voice, style and tone you write in which reflects a belief, philosophy or viewpoint. It is born from the very heart of what your brand stands for. It communicates a certain feeling or emotion that resonates with your audience. It’s about how you want to speak to and be heard by your customer that is consistent with your brand’s personality and what it stands for. It takes some time to develop and won’t be effective if it is fake. If done well will attract your customers, clients and build your tribe.
Simon Sinek says, “We trust companies that believe what we believe”
2. How it looks (visual design)
This is where we get to be creative and express our message visually. Our image should reflect what our brand stands for. The visual branding is only effective when there is meaning behind it. That is why we need to place equal importance on the other forces. A good designer will be able to capture the layers that make up your brand, visually. While I do a lot of my own graphics + website stuff, I outsource my design often as my area of expertise is in other areas. It helps when you have a clear brief and knowledge of your brand for the designer.
Paul Rand says, ” A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around.”
3. What it stands for (philosophy and mission)
It helps to have an understanding of this before we develop our brand voice and design. People are drawn to us not because we look good or have a catchy tagline but because we share a similar mission and philosophy or belief. Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook, COO) says to find out what’s important to you and your Company and be willing to use your voice for that purpose. That is incredibly valuable. She says, if you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the World, that’s where it will have value, depth and integrity.
4. How honest and transparent you are as a business
If the three other forces are disjointed or not aligned, it is very difficult to come across as authentic and honest. Brand equity decreases and it is a lot harder to build momentum and gain the trust of your followers. In the past, Companies may have been able to get away with it. Say whatever they want to close the deal, look sharp to make the sale. But with social media, you can no longer hide behind a stylish veneer disguised as a hero who claims to save the World. Today It’s about building relationships and you cannot build relationships on dishonesty, empty false promises or claims.
The brands that are doing well today are documenting their real selves, the journey and story. Failures and success included
“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur” – Zig Zigler
The last force I want to add is your execution strategy which is a given. And that will differ depending on your objectives and goals. And really, that’s another topic for another blog.
In summary: (brand voice + heart beat) x design x (philosophy + mission) x (honesty + transparency) x execution strategy = brand equity/value
There are so many ways to explain what a brand is, why it’s important and how to build one that makes an impact and build equity. One thing for sure though, it is much more than how it looks.
It is up to you to figure out what’s important to you and your business and then communicate this. Work on the elements that pull your audience toward your brand and get them to say,
YES, I CHOOSE YOU.
When your activities are centred around this consistently and regularly, your brand equity will build.