When most people talk about their brand they are thinking designing a logo and picking fonts. Yes, that is part of it, but that is only the front door to the whole room of branding. Your logo, colors, and fonts are vital to give a good first impression, but what happens after you open the door? What is in the rest of the room?
“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
- John Williams
You have five senses and you want to communicate through all of them. This is the experience of who you are: from your logo to your marketing materials, your office/location, to your people and the way they talk. Branding communicates emotions, attitudes and personalities. Let’s consider two food establishments: Dutch Bros. Coffee and Chic-Fil-A. (I apologize if you don’t have either one of these near you, because they really do make your life better!)
Dutch Bros. Coffee
Dutch Bros. is chain of drive through coffee shops along the west coast. You can walk up to any Dutch Bros. and see their bright blue and orange logo and know to expect energy not peace out of this coffee stand. Any barista inside will look like they could be a surfer, skater, longboarder, or slight hippy. They are not known for long waits, but even if you did have to wait you wouldn’t really care because it is a fun environment with loud pop music playing in the background and at least one barista dancing inside their stand. The only stress you feel is any baggage you brought to the drive through. The promise you are given when you go to a Dutch Bros. is excitement, fun, a relaxed atmosphere and sugary coffee. You are not looking to have a quiet place or connoisseur coffee. You are looking to kick off your day with a fist pump and a let’s roll! Even their lids celebrate your new found determination for the day.
Chic-Fil-A is a nationwide fast food restaurant that focuses solely on chicken. When you walk in you will notice more earth tones and neutral colors with granite counters, tile floors, wood dividers and trashcans, with tan tiled walls. You will see the workers wearing polo shirts and typically foregoing the logo-stamped-baseball hats. It feels a bit classier than your average grab-and-go burger joint. When ordering you will hear “How may I serve you?” followed up with “My pleasure” instead of the traditional “You’re welcome” or worse "NEXT?!" The packaging on their food is formal and informative. The promise here is, "we are not your normal fast food place, we do things with excellence, and we are focused on you, the customer."
In both of these examples, we can see that the brand of the organization goes beyond their logo design and colors but brings in the culture, promise, and delivery of the product or service. It is how the customer interacts with you and reacts to you.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”
– Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
Everyone has a brand because everyone has a reputation. Think about having a business in a small town. What does everyone in the town know you as? What do they know you for? What are they saying about you? That is your brand.
Once you realize branding your business goes beyond logo design and font choices, you can start honing in and tailoring each aspect of your branding process to be inline with what you want it to communicate. Here are some helpful questions that you can think through, not just for your business as a whole, but as you look at each facet of your business: sales, follow-up, product quality, packaging, customer service, refunds, marketing, website, social media, employee dress and employee verbiage.
- Who are you? What do you do?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What need are you fulfilling/problem are you solving?
- What makes you different from your competition?
- Who are your (desired) customers?
- What feeling or emotion do you want to give off?
- What’s your company’s personality? (Not your personality)
- What feeling or emotion do you want your clients to feel when they interact with you?
- When they walk out your door and let out a sigh, what's the next words out of their mouth?
Congratulations for already thinking beyond your logo and how to fully brand yourself. You are already moving in the right direction. Remember that your branding is making a promise to your clients of what they can expect when they interact with you, your culture, and your product. You will find with a little attention to detail and adjustments in uniformity, your customers will begine to describe you just the way you set out and promised them that you would be: amazing.