People prefer to spend time with others based on their personalities. We are attracted to people based on their sense of humor, how they talk, what they talk about, what they like to do, and how they react to situations. We identify them by how they look.
The same is true for businesses and products. When products offer similar benefits, we prefer to do business with companies based on their personality and we can identify them by how they look.
By: Ernie Harker
However, we tend to think we’re logical people making practical decisions based on hard data. So it’s not surprising that most of us in the marketing world revert to logic to sell. We create marketing materials that point out the features and benefits of our products or services and then show formulas that demonstrate the value.
So what’s the problem?
Clinical studies consistently demonstrate that how customers feel about a company or product has a greater influence on the decision to buy than what the customer thinks about the product. In short, customers buy based on emotion and they justify their purchases by weighing out the costs and benefits logically.
Crap! This means most of us are focusing on the wrong messages and our brands are suffering the consequences!
Can you explain what branding is?
Branding is the creation of a unique identity and personality for your business that is easy to distinguish from your competitors. Great branding is the creative science of engineering an emotional connection with your business so when customers see your product or service they will want to learn more about its benefits because they like your business. Customers who like brands are also not as price sensitive. This is why great brands like Starbucks and Apple can charge premium prices for their commodities.
For reasons I haven’t been able to discover, branding has been misunderstood to be predicated on personal preference. Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned that everyone thinks they are a branding expert. When evaluating logos, ads, and other marketing materials conversations often go like this:
HR Director: “I don’t like red. It feels angry to me. We’re not an angry company!”
CEO: “I like red because it’s bold and gets attention. That’s why stop signs are red!”
CFO: “I’m just not feeling it. I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.”
Marketing Director: “What if we went with purple? Our competitors don’t use purple in their brand, so we’ll stand out for sure!”
IT Director: “I showed it to my niece who is studying design and she doesn’t like it.”
It’s like trying to herd cats! Because we all haven’t been trained to understand how colors, fonts, shapes, and design composition convey specific personalities and elicit specific emotional reactions, we wield our opinions like children playing with scalpels.
Additionally, few companies have established a brand strategy that serves as their foundation stone on which to make creative decisions. Most companies borrow ideas from high-performing competitors or they brainstorm different ways to stand out without appreciating the long-term damage to their brand. Those who follow these strategies find themselves lacking brand clarity and consistency.
So how do you create a brand that evokes the right type of personality and emotional connection?
I use a process called FIRE to lay the foundation of brand strategies.
The first step in building or sharpening any brand is to Find Your Brand Spark — the most unique attribute of your company or products. It will serve as the catalyst for your brand.
Next, Identify Your Target Customers — the people most likely to appreciate your Brand Spark so you can take into consideration their shared likes and dislikes when you assemble your design elements (colors, fonts, textures, patterns, images, tone, and vocabulary).
You’ll need to Realize Your Core Belief which is a statement of belief about the important role your company plays in the world. It answers the question, “Why do you do what you do?” This statement of belief helps guide the expression of your brand in language and images. If Carl’s Jr’s core belief hinted at wholesome family values, they would have had a hard time justifying their sexy hamburger ads of the last decade.
The final step in the FIRE process is to Establish Your Brand Adjectives. Brainstorm 5-6 adjectives that describe the personality you envision for your brand. At least two of those adjectives can’t be used to describe any of your competitors. (If all of the adjectives you use to describe your company or product can be used to describe your competitors, there isn’t much difference).
Once you’ve FIRE’d up your brand, choosing the right design elements to convey the personality you want to be associated with your company or product is easier and less subjective.
This gives you a starting point to warm up an emotional relationship with your customers but if you crave a little more depth and detail visit www.ernburn.com to check out my book, “Your Brand Sucks”, and my “Ignite Your $Billion Brand” executive master class.