Guidelines from a branding expert on what it takes to turn your business into a brand, one that makes your audience tick
You can register a business to start one, but you cannot open a brand with a registration!
I remember during a business trip to New Zealand a few years back, my local business partner suggested I should migrate to the country, with the words – “There are more lambs in New Zealand than skilled personnel, so you will definitely be respected in case you considering migrating to this part of the world, as the country really needs you!”
Drawing analogy to what he said, there is no dearth of business infrastructure or technology as an aide to business – but even with a growing number of business registrations, are there as many brands? (discounting self-proclaimed brands in the count)
The answer is definitely not. We do not have as many brands as there should be!
So, what is going wrong or stopping businesses from turning into brands? (a business and a brand are not interchangeable words in the dictionary, which many unfortunately try to do!)”
Let’s look at the Brand Theory that gives us some fundamentals:
- Brands are all about the emotional connection between the business and the client – the client being at the center of attention and attraction.
- Successful brands are empathetic.
- Authenticity is key to success.
- Modern-day technology is a great catalyst for promoting your brand.
- Brands are all about the experience they deliver.
Despite having known these ‘universal truth’ theories on brands, we are still unable to deliver ‘the brand‘ on a daily basis to reign over customers’ minds. Let us revisit some of these facts presented above and add on a few more insights observed in practice to understand what ails brand making. Rather look at some guaranteed success guidelines to making a brand.
1. Emotional connection
Emotions are very much a part of our lives but unfortunately read wrong so often. A common misconception is about the different types of emotions. They are organized into levels – primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on. So unless there is clarity of what ‘sort of emotions’ you are trying to evoke, you are more likely to miss out on how that emotion can be triggered. For instance, in a recent survey, I found that less than 15% of people knew that the emotion called LOVE is not basic or primary. Two basic emotions, JOY and TRUST, work to produce the emotion called LOVE. If you want someone to fall in love with your business, it becomes a relatively easier process knowing the scientific theory behind it.
2. Empathy in action: Too much or too less
Too much or too less – Empathy is a necessary ingredient to making a brand. The simplest way to describe empathy as a commoner is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and realize where the shoe pinches! But this is where the chaos begins. Say I run a business and understand the customer’s pain point in detail. Now one of the following three may happen:
- I interpret the findings with my own biases and turn a bit blind in love with my product or business.
- I just want to see how this can make a ‘selling proposition’ without showing honest effort to reduce the pain.
- I get so overwhelmed with the findings that I really have no clue how to align my business with the requirement.
So what summarizes the situation is the lack the balance in being empathetic. Most consultants and coaches definitely guide a business to practice empathy, with very few showing how the value can be interweaved with the business proposition.
3. Authenticity alignment
Decoded as just being yourself, authenticity in brand making is a deeper concept than said. We all have a unique story to tell. In our social lives, we connect with or make friends with whom we resonate in our thoughts and ideas. The same is with business; we would love to connect with those ‘chunks’ or ‘segments’ of an authentic story that resonates with the natural story of the business. More such segments of the original business storyline align with our lives, the closer it is to our hearts and better positioned to be a brand. Being authentic is being yourself, just as your customers would be able to connect themselves to, not authenticity gone wild!
4. Technology techniques applied right
Dating back to the origin of the term, technology is all about techniques, skills, and application of something scientific to human use. Technology on its own is not a magic wand that can turn a business into a Cinderella ready for the ball night! While brands demand visibility, a disorganized approach or reach is not only a waste of resources but also fails to create the necessary impression. Being on social media or other forms of media has become relatively easier to access, but the lack of design behind the brand is often missed. (A small note here – do not confuse design with strategy, they are quite different terms, and why else would the English language make them into two different words!)
5. Experience a new Xperience
As human beings, we are blessed to experience life with our five senses. And the channels through which we collect and process an experience are – eyes, nose, ears, touch, and tongue. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so biased (rather stereotyped) with our senses that we fail to explore an optimum balance of it all. There have been multiple scientific experiments to analyze how the senses influence decision-making. But off late, the realm of experiences is expanding, and people are looking beyond mere marketing gimmicks. With virtual platforms offering spiritual experiences, meditation, and collaborative meetups, this is just the beginning of defining new age experience. More businesses fall short of being a brand on this aspect, as they are stuck on to those cliché experiences. With the customer’s expectations evolving at a faster pace than ever before, the search for innovative experiences is touching new heights every day.
The problem in our lives is now a problem of plenty! We are flooded with free sessions, master classes, DIY branding books, seminars, webinars, consultants, and a bunch of tools at our easy disposal. But not many of them give clarity on the design of a brand. Amongst all this chaos and din, somewhere, the brand’s voice gets lost, and the attitude goes unnoticed. We cannot change the way the crowd behaves, but the choice remains ours – be a member to the party (which is running a business well) or carve out your mark by the strength of your design (making a brand memorable).