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Why your brand isn’t what you think it is.

Let’s set the scene… you’ve got your domain name, socials are good to go, your offering is strong, you’ve crafted the perfect tagline, you have nice visuals in place, perfected your packaging and it seems everything’s perfect…

So that’s it – everybody else thinks the same about your brand, right?

Sadly, in reality, that is rarely the case.

A brand becomes a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or indeed your company as a whole. It tends to be an initial gut feeling because we’re emotional, despite our best efforts to remain considered and rational.

It’s a person’s gut feeling because at the end of the day, a brand is defined by the individuals who come across it and their interpretation of it.

So, your brand isn’t what you say it is… it’s what they say it is.

Here’s Why
Even if you conduct meticulous brand research, every individual that comes into contact with your brand will create their own version of it.

They interpret your product, your service – in fact your offering overall. They build their opinions on what you do, why you do it, how you look, what you say and how you act.

As frustrating as this may be – and although you are unable to control this interpretation at an individual level – it is possible to influence it more broadly to a certain degree.

The Difference
They way to do this is by communicating the difference in your product or service over than that of a competitor.

Our brains act as a filter to rid unnecessary information. The brain helps to differentiate choices and your brand needs to be different from any other because we’re hardwired to notice the different.

Subconsciously we make decisions all the time. Your brand personality, values, visual identity and messaging all contribute to your success and the positive application of these culminate in a consistent experience in to which your target customer will invest.

So how does it work?

Your Audience
The strongest brands are built upon a clear understanding of their audience, their needs and – perhaps most importantly – what motivates them.

Conducting brand research and learning about the people you are targeting will uncover insights that will help shape the personality of your brand and the experiences your audience will have with your brand.

If your brand is based on truths it will help you connect with your audience on a different level.

Brand Personality
The way in which your brand connects on an emotional level with consumers is through a carefully crafted and curated brand personality. By creating, building and maintaining a brand with a strong, relevant voice makes it more relatable and thus personable – doing so will build lasting relationships.

Having a clear personality will drive an emotional connection with your audience which in turn will make you more trustworthy, approachable and understandable.

Your tone should match that of your consumers as closely as possible and by talking directly to your customers in a way that connects with their values, needs and wants you will make you more attractive to your target audience.

This is because memorable and aspirational brands have a personality that aligns with the values of their target audience.

Experience
Any experience a consumer has with your brand comes directly from emotional responses that are evoked through interaction. Such interactions come from any visual brand appearance and brand communications.

The interactions people have with your product, service or organisation should show them how your brand will solve the issue[s] they face and how your brand will fit into their lifestyle.

These experiences should always leave a lasting impression on your target consumers and the intention is to ensure that it makes that experience associated with your brand, which in turn should encourage their custom and loyalty.

Consistency
A carefully developed brand style guide is a crucial tool that will enable a consistent brand application.

It is important that your branding is applied consistently, in line with your strategic objectives and the requirements of your target market.

Doing so will evoke the desired reactions and emotions from your audience which in turn will lead to the desired investment and loyalty.

By consistently applying the visual elements of your brand, the emotions from your audience upon seeing your visual identity will be harvested.

This unspoken level of familiarity in your brand from your audience is an invaluable status to attain. You want your customers – existing, new, lapsed and potential – to see your creativity and messaging and immediately recognise you.

Whether it is a social media post, point of sale material, packaging, billboard or business card, the consistent appearance and messaging you deliver will build awareness and trust with your audience.

Visual Appearance
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like sans serif fonts or you prefer muted tones rather than bold colour schemes, your visual identity isn’t about you.

Experienced identity designers will choose a carefully devised colour scheme, matched with a typographic execution that represents your brand in its visual form.

So forget whether pinks aren’t your thing, drop your obsession with uppercase text in your logo mark and instead put your target audience front and centre. They are the ones that need to be attracted to it. They are the ones that will decide if it works and they are the ones that you want to take action.

Your personal preferences are just that, personal. It’s not about you.

Everything your design team will do, will be done for a reason and it will be as a direct result of and driven by your brand research and the strategy you have in place.

Remaining objective when building your visual identity can be really challenging because personal preferences are so innate to our decision-making process.

But remember, you are not your customers. Your own preferences have little weight unless what is being created is made for you as the sole user.

It’s vital that you remove your own aesthetic preferences wherever possible – instead, focus on what your customers will like – think about:

  • What makes them feel they can trust your company?
  • What solves their problems?
  • Will they be attracted to the design?

Your subjective impressions rarely impact heavily on those goals and if you stay objective and aligned with your project goals at all times, you are much more likely to succeed and create something that appeals directly to your target consumers.

If you’re ready to take the next step toward building an aspirational brand that attracts motivated consumers, then we’d love to discuss your objectives with you.

Carter Branding Founder Daniel James
Author
Daniel James is the founder and creative lead at Carter Branding.
With over twenty years’ experience, he is equally at home working on branding and design projects for major international PLC’s as he is supporting ambitious businesses and innovative start ups.
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