Brand Your Thing
As an ambitious person, you probably have “Your Thing”. It’s the Thing that you are passionate about, that you believe in, and have committed your energy and work to: it could be your product, practice, business, cause, service or organization. Your Thing.
You want Your Thing to be its most successful self. Your Thing will benefit from you turning your attention to the concept of “branding”.
If you are new to the concept of branding or are not sure why it is relevant to you, then here are some branding basics informed by many expert resources and some hard thinking.
“Do your work, but do your thing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is a brand?
Why is it a good idea to intentionally, consciously and thoughtfully direct Your Thing’s brand? So that Your Thing — whatever it is — can soar to its highest potential.
“A brand is a living entity — and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” — Michael Eisner, CEO Disney
A brand is what your audience thinks and feels about Your Thing: their gut feelings about, their emotional connections to, and their expectations of Your Thing.
A brand is a promise. If that promise is kept, you get your audience’s trust. Trust leads to commitment. A brand should build relationships and emotional connections with your audience. A brand takes time to establish. Your audience first has to become aware of it, then come to like it, and finally come to trust it.
“... a brand is more than just a logo and a phrase. A brand is a distinct combination of words, symbols, experiences and creative elements associated with the overall value and credibility of an organization or service.” — OMA Public Affairs and Communications Department, Ontario Medical Review, March 2009
How is Your Brand represented?
Since Your Thing’s brand is a really just set of ideas and feelings that live in your audience’s mind, the question remains, how do they form those impressions? You need something concrete in order to reach to them: your website, promotional materials, advertising, etc.
To effectively represent Your Thing’s brand, incorporate these five crucial elements:
This includes all visuals related to Your Thing: items like a logo, particular design elements, typography, specific colours, identity guidelines, and stylistic direction. (To reiterate: Your Thing’s brand is not the logo, website, etc. Your Thing’s brand is the set of ideas and associations with Your Thing. It is represented by the logo, website, etc.)
The voice conveys the personality of Your Thing. The cutline, the tone in the writing, and the language you use form the personality that is heard and felt by your audience. Establish a unique voice and use it throughout your communications.
All points of contact with your audience
Every time your audience experiences contact with Your Thing it contributes to their impression of it. This includes all printed materials, websites, people, ads, sounds, smells and sensory experiences. How you talk about Your Thing and even how you answer your phone should be given consideration.
Professional execution of all identity elements is paramount — it tells people how serious you are about Your Thing. “Professionally executed” means that you work with experienced professionals to design Your Thing’s logo and identity, create the identity standards and guidelines, and design every visual item that will ever be seen, read or heard by your audience. The writing must be at a professional level and well edited. There is a chasm between a pro and a non-pro, and your audience will notice the difference (even if it is on an unconscious level, it will make an impression).
Your audience needs repetition in order to recognize Your Thing and develop associations with it over time. Inconsistency weakens a brand and is the biggest obstacle to developing a strong one. Consistency means that you have developed standards for how you use your logo, colours, and other identity elements, and you don’t change things up willy-nilly. Establish and follow your own guidelines for the identity elements and all communication with your audience, and then stick to them. Being consistent is the main work of maintaining Your Thing’s brand.
Being consistent is the main work of maintaining
Your Thing’s brand.
Your Thing’s brand is the outward manifestation of Your Thing’s core values, purpose and benefits. It gains value over time because your audience develops a relationship with it though repeated positive contact. But relationships are fickle — and a brand relationship is tenuous — so give it consideration and nurture it. Creating and maintaining Your Thing’s brand does not have to be complicated or costly, but — more than anything — it does have to be conscious.