It’s no wonder so many of us think branding is all about the logo.
Every four years, the Olympics is rebranded (more accurately, it’s co-branded) and it’s a process. The design firm for the upcoming 2016 Rio games (the winner: Brazilian design group Tatil) was selected in 2009. From 139 interested agencies. The final logo was revealed in 2011, after being created under strict security in a room that could only be entered with a thumb-print and had no Internet access. The team created 50 logos before they finalized a design, which, says Creative Director Fred Gelli, represents Rio’s landscape, landmarks, color and warmth of its people. More than 100 people worked on it.
Yet, branding is not all about the logo. Arguably, branding isn’t even about the brand owner. Here’s why: when the logo was revealed to the people of Brazil, they saw things in it that weren’t intended by the designers. Gelli said, “People in general loved the logo.” And they “started to see things in it that we didn’t, and that made us really happy.” He said one man described it to him as “a hug between politicians, businesses and residents to change the city.”
That’s a far cry from landscape and landmarks. The logo is the visual face of the brand and I think it’s important for business success, but branding includes strategy, emotional appeal, your message, and more. Think of it more as brand image, because the best brands create an immediate perception about the brand in people’s minds. What comes to your mind with you think of Apple? Red Bull? Nike?
Here’s the thing. Your brand is not about you. Seriously. No matter how much time and money you spent designing your logo, choosing your fonts, and writing your brilliant tag lines to tell your story, at the end of the day, branding is all about how other people see you. Brand equals experience. The reality is, your customers define your brand, based on what you tell them and the signals your brand sends. So whether you’re starting from scratch or building your existing brand, focus on creating a brand experience people will rave about.
What impression do you want you to create for your customers? How do you want them to feel? What is the motivation behind your brand? What problems did you start up to solve? Those are the beginning questions when you’re brand-building. How and where do you build it? Here are two powerful ways:
Brand Your Customer Touchpoints
Touchpoints are all of the places you interact with your customers. Where are yours? Freshbooks, cloud-based accounting software, sends cakes to its customers on their birthdays. The client birthday becomes the touchpoint. Is the cake part of their brand? Yes. Imagine how customers feel when they get that cake—cared about, important, and, at least the first year, surprised.
Do you know all of the places your brand touches your customers? Make a list. Social media, your website, Yelp and other ratings and review sites, billing, emails, with staff or your sales team, community events, on the phone, in person, point of sale, ads, news? If you’re having trouble pinning down all of your touchpoints, try putting on your customers’ shoes and walking in them. As a customer, where would you interact with your brand? I'd recommend you to create a customer touchpoint map that follows the customer from before, during and after the sale.
Find those touchpoints and brand them. How do you want your touchpoints to make your customers feel? Does your email verbiage convey your company brand? Read it from the customer’s perspective.
Apple is “genius” (sorry) at branding customer touchpoints, from the first website interaction to final customer survey. How can you brand yours?
Facts Tell, Stories Tell
We’ve all been told to hone our elevator speeches, be honest and transparent on our “about” pages, but the truth is, it’s hard to get from facts to stories. Storytelling in business isn’t about telling any story, it’s about telling your story in a way that makes it meaningful to your customers.
You can tell your brand stories on your website, social media pages, blogs, videos, ads, infographics—everywhere you reach out to customers. What’s important is that it’s your story. And it doesn’t have to be long. The Super Plumber is just what it sounds like, a plumbing company. Here’s how it tells its story on Facebook: “We are a local Vancouver Island family-owned business. We operate 24/7/365 at regular rates. We show up on time. Give you your options, and the price before we start any work, so you can decide what’s right for you.” It’s short and simple, and there are a lot of facts, but you get the essence of what the Super Plumber is all about.
And that’s what branding is all about.