The 2nd most talked about Superbowl 2012 ad, according to Gnip, was the “It’s halftime in America“ spot featuring Clint Eastwood for Chrysler . It was a rallying cry, not a commercial bestowing Chrysler’s many features. It was a fine example of a manifesto.
Last week I wrote about the importance of building a business based on sustainable ideas, not on a comparison to your competitors. With an explosion of consumer choice and a post-recession mentality, we’ve seen a rise in what has been coined the Spend Shift Movement – consumers are shifting from “mindless consumption to mindful consumption”, choosing businesses that don’t just meet their needs, but reflect their values.
Standing for something has never been more important than it is today. And that begins by defining the ideals, beliefs and philosophies that govern your business.
A manifesto is a declaration of your principles, policies, or intentions. In business, it’s your rallying cry – creating clarity for your customers and employees on what you stand for and reminding you what’s truly important. It pulls everyone in your organization together with a set of ideals that allow you to work as one.
It’s often the place I begin with my customers so that I can understand them, who they serve and where they do their best work.
To build your manifesto, answer the following questions:
Logos have been the topic of great discussion lately. Gap changed their logo and after a tremendous amount of backlash from customers retracted the redesign and Starbucks has been the recipient of big buzz after announcing their decision to drop their name from their logo.
A few days ago, I wrote a post about branding. If a brand is your business’ reputation, a logo is the dress your business wears. It might contribute to your reputation, but more importantly it helps you express who you are, it helps you stand out, it helps people identify and remember you, it makes people feel a certain way when they see you.
Given a logo’s importance, it makes me sad to see how few businesses really invest in a great identity.
Logos should be evocative – they should begin to tell a story.
Every business should tell a compelling story through everything they do. Who are you? Why should I care? What will excite me when I buy / hire you? What makes you uncommon? Your logo is a critical tool to begin to tell your story.
Stories don’t need to be literal. In fact, the more evocative and less literal you are, the more likely you are to be unique and memorable. Some of the most recognized logos in the world are suggestive – the Coke wave (refreshment), Apples’s apple (according to many sources, it referenced Adam and Eve, where the apple represented the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge) and Nike’s swoosh (symbolized the wing of the Greek Goddess of strength, speed and victory).
Would Coke be iconic if they had an image of brown liquid on their can? Would apple be iconic if they showed a computer in their logo? Or how about if Nike illustrated a pair of running shoes? Stories captivate because they are emotive and not based on functional product or service benefits. Think about this when you’re designing your logo.
Great logos are iconic.
In the branding design world, we often tested just how iconic a logo was by removing or changing the company name. Would we be able to identify the brand name without actually reading the brand’s name? You can see how this works and take the logo recognition test over at Sporkle.
Colors, typefaces and symbols are the three key components that contribute to an iconic visual identity.
It’s terribly important to know that order to be iconic, you have to be different. All of the above loose their impact if everyone else in your industry looks the same. Which brings me to my next point…
A logo should be timeless.
If you’re in the wedding business you’ve probably seen a pretty distinctive style defining the industry today. Pale colors (like robin’s egg blue), scripted type, fillagrees, birds, nests. These are trends. Just like black, white and hot pink, chandeliers and head silhouettes were a trend a few years ago. Like the trends before them, these new ones will be regurgitated, reach a pinnacle, and eventually feel dated. Trends may be perfectly fine to incorporate into a wedding’s design, but, a business logo shouldn’t change with what’s au currant. A logo should be timeless.
A logo is only effective if it:
So, what story are you currently telling through your logo? Is it truly an expression who you are? Does it help you stand out? Can people easily recognize and remember you? Does it evoke the right feeling about your business?
The other day I was asked to provide a perspective on why logos / brands are so important and why people connect with them. The problem with this question is that a logo and a brand are two very different things and unfortunately they’re often used interchangeably. But this question prompted me to think that a post might be in order to demystify common words often associated with Branding.
What is a brand?
The definition of branding has evolved quite rapidly over the past couple of years, mainly due to the advent of social media and the decline of the influence of traditional media. No longer are brands manufactured in board rooms and no longer are perceptions shaped primarily based on what corporations tell us to believe through advertising. Today a brand can be defined as your reputation built off of both your promise to your customers and the sum of all of their experiences with you.
In order to build a successful brand, and ultimately a loyal and energized consumer base, a brand needs to start from the inside out. That means having a clearly articulated Brand Positioning, Personality and Promise, a passionate team of partners / employees who are singing off of the same hymn sheet and an organization that runs in support of what your brand stands for.
What is Brand Positioning?
A brand positioning is a statement that should answer why your target market should satisfy their need with your brand instead of your competitor’s. This is derived through:
There is structure to a good positioning statement: Your compelling point of difference + Your segment + Your validation + Your target market + Their need
How is it used?
It’s not a slogan or a tagline, it’s an internal statement. And, unlike your promise (below), it may evolve over time as the market changes.
Brand X is the coffee cafe that is a third place between work and home providing indulgence and escape to urban working women.
Note: This may have been close to Starbuck’s positioning statement when they launched. As you can see, the relevance of this statement now, with the growth of the coffee cafe market and the growth of the Starbucks chain, has diminished the uniqueness and relevance of this statement.
What is Brand Personality?
This is the tone of your brand’s voice communicated as human characteristics. Often times, when working on an existing brand for a client, we start by asking: “If you were to describe your brand as a person, what traits would they have?”. I can tell you that in my 15+ years asking clients this question, I almost always hear ‘trusted’ as one of the descriptors. It’s important to understand that the personality traits you use to define your brand should not be ‘earned’ traits.
Some examples of brand personality traits could include: quirky, rebellious, authoritative, pragmatic, shocking, engaging, warm, flirty, carefree, adventurous.
How is it used?
It’s easy to see that personality can translate to the visual, verbal and written style of your brand’s communications. It’s also critical to how a brand behaves and often influences hiring strategies, service training as well as processes. Brands with personalities tend to feel more relatable, strike an emotional chord with consumers, differentiate themselves, and generally feel more exciting.
Examples of brands with big personalities: Zappos, Apple and Virgin
Think about how these brands convey their personalities through communication style, logo, packaging, service, products, etc.
What is Brand Promise?
A brand promise is the heart and soul of the functional benefits and emotive values a customer will receive when they experience your products and services. As Seth Godin once said: “Make big promises and overdeliver”. Just imagine what would happen if every brand lived by this credo… Promises, and more importantly kept promises, build loyalty.
A promise should be unique, meaningful, believable and consistently attainable (with effort). Since a critical component of the success of a Brand Promise is keeping it, it needs the passion and support of your employees.
Ultimately your Brand Promise needs to answer: What compelling benefits / values can only you offer to your target market?
How is it used?
A promise is not usually conveyed in advertising but it should be the driver behind everything you do and communicate.
A brand is not a sign at an event. It’s not a coaster. It’s not a gobo light. A brand is not a logo. It’s not an icon. And it’s not even a cute, cuddly character. And, it’s none of these.
A brand is not only what you say…it’s what you do. A brand is what I expect from you when I buy into your product or service and then it’s what I think about you after you deliver. It’s a sum of all of my experiences with you. A brand is a promise kept. A brand is what I tell others when they’re looking for a company like yours. A brand is what I pay more than I should for.
It’s your job to stop thinking about brands as promotional items and graphics and start thinking about them as a narrative that runs through everything you do.
Contrary to popular belief, a brand is not a logo, a name or something that your marketing department ‘thinks up’ in a boardroom. A brand is how people would describe your company or your product to another. It’s shaped by the sum of all of their experiences and interactions with you – at every level of your organization. Did they call your office and get a bubble gum-popping, nail filing receptionist who couldn’t wait to get them off the phone so they could continue talking about last night’s cliff-hanging episode of The Bachelor? Did they receive an invoice loaded with SURPRISE! charges? Did pink tulips show up on site instead of the Tahitian sunset-colored orange lilies that precisely matched their client’s logo? If so, they might be telling a different story about your company than you want them to. Just like ‘that’ girl in high school, it takes but one person or experience to change people’s perceptions of you.
Although we can’t control what people think about us, we have the power to influence it. The first step is to understand that your marketing department is but a tiny sliver of the perception pie…and that every person within your organization, every system you have in place and every communication that leaves your office either reinforces or changes what people think about you.
Here are 10 questions to get you on the right path to building a positive reputation:
On January 27, 2010, I’ll be delivering a full day seminar on Strategic Event Marketing Using Social Media for EMI Caribbean in beautiful Trinidad. Don’t miss this event – seats are selling fast!
Smart planners have recognized that the game has changed forever. Event guests are no longer simply attendees, they are active and engaged participants that can either make or break the future of your event. In seconds they can tweet out that the food is terrible or post how great a speaker is. Power is at their fingertips. They expect more now than they ever have. They want their voice to be heard and understood, they want to make connections with other delegates before, during and after the event, and they expect event organizers to be listening.
This intensive workshop will help event professionals understand how to use the tools to build thriving communities through strategic planning. Whether you plan the events, contribute to them or simply attend them, this seminar will give any business professional the power to be successful in social media.
Don’t delay. For details and to register, please see this flyer.
The purpose of a great bio has always been to establish credibility, showcase your expertise and build trust. But in today’s hyper-connected and über-competitive world of business, bios can also serve to differentiate, build likability, establish an authentic connection between the reader and the writer and, most importantly, SELL you.
Many professionals have more than one bio to serve different audiences. It’s important to understand what you’re writing for as this will drive what you say (content), how you say it (tone) and how quickly you need to get to the point (word count).
Be clear about who you want to build a connection with and ultimately what you want them to feel, do and recall after reading your bio.
Remember, people don’t buy cupboard organizers, they buy organized cupboards. The same applies to your business.
Instead of describing what you do, sell them on how you can help.
For example, it might be fitting to say, “Jim has been a business consultant for 15 years.” But think about how much more captivating that statement would be if it was tweaked to, “Jim has been reforming struggling businesses into profitable powerhouses for 15 successful years.” A small, but important shift emphasizing not what he does, but what problem he solves.
People do business with other people they know, like and trust.
Your bio is often selling you when you’re not there to do it yourself. What better way to build likability than to toss aside a generic bio and create one infused with you style, tone and personality.
Are you quirky, stoic, humorous or critical? Find ways to express your authentic voice. Sally Hogshead does a brilliant job of this in her bio and Aliza Sherman shows how to balance personality and professionalism. After reading these bios I have a strong sense of who these ladies are and whether I’d like them and could do business with them. And here’s the truly powerful thing about these bios…because they’re so unique, they’re memorable.
There is a very big difference from a resume and a bio, yet many bios come off as condensed resumes.
Stories sell. Facts tell.
A resume is a fact-laden, reverse chronological detail of your experience, training and expertise. A bio, on the other hand, should be a brief and compelling story that leaves the reader with a distinct and memorable impression of why they should care about you.
Highlight epic moments that collectively define your success and bring your reader on a journey. For a fabulous breakdown of how to create your story, read How to Become the Superhero of Your Story by Robin Fisher Roffer. In her post, she quotes Brendon Burchard’s tips to define your story:
This is probably one of the most often overlooked elements of writing a great bio. Why is it important? It’s likely your bio exists online, even if you didn’t post it there yourself. So, there’s an opportunity for your bio to capture people looking online for talent like you. Think about what keywords they might enter into a search engine to find you, or someone like you and find creative ways to incorporate those keywords without sacrificing the content.
What would you add?