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Developing a brand identity for your agency is one of the best ways to take your brand to the next level.
Master Sales Series this week brings you the importance of having a robust brand identity. Strong brands are all around us. In our modern, digitized world, people are seeing an alarming number of brands everywhere they turn. Remember that study done in 2007 about people being exposed to 5,000 advertisements a day? Well, that number has increased with the surge in mobile smart devices, increased social media usage from all demographics, brand placements, and everything you might see in day-to-day life. Companies and people leverage their brands to connect with customers and clients. With a strong brand, it is easier for your audience to get to know you.
George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. We’re talking the Master Sales Series. And we’ve been doing a number of surveys across our network of partners. And this week’s episode is all about the results of those surveys. And one of the big questions was “How do I create a strong brand identity for my organization?” We’re gonna cover that topic on how to build that brand identity for your organization on the Conquer Local Podcast.
George: You know, not all salespeople even recognize themselves as a salesperson. A lot of times, it’s a CEO or a founder or a CTO or a Head of Marketing that is out making those sales. But if you speak to that entrepreneur, a lot of times what they will tell you is, “I’m the salesperson.” Regardless of what function they have, they see themselves as the person that’s driving the vision or the mission or the brand forward. If you’re an agency owner moving into the digital space you need to create your own brand identity online. And that’s even before you go selling your products and services. You have to be able to practice what you preach. It’s something that we’ve been talking about for years with our partners. When they go to market and they say you know we’re going to do these things to improve your virtual presence, or whatever it might be. Or we’re gonna go out and get you a better website. If I look to that organization and they’ve got a bad website and a muddy brand proposition and they’re not following the culture that they are professing, then there’s a disconnect there. In the thing that they’re trying to be and what they’re trying to present and what the potential customer or the existing customer sees.
George: A great quote from Alina Wheeler says “Brand is a promise, it’s the big idea. The expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, a service, or the company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.” It’s something that, you know, being a career media person, I’ve talked about a lot is, it isn’t the audience that you’re reaching. And it isn’t the number of commercials that you run. And it isn’t any of that. It’s about the creative way that you are presenting that message. And the way that it makes people feel. And connecting with that feel allows you to have an entire experience with that brand. Let’s look at six steps, they’re not the only steps. But let’s look at six steps that we’re identifying for developing brand identity.
Six Steps to Building Brand Identity – The Mission Statement
George: Here’s one of the things that I think is often overlooked but all really great companies do this at some point. They set a mission statement. And I believe that the mission statement evolves over time as the company changes. And I wonder if you actually ever really reach the statement that is made in the mission for the company. It’s something you aspire to. It’s something that could change. Or could, you know, improve or iterate over time. But it is something that is really hard to get to. And I think that that’s an important part of a mission statement. It’s like, here are the things that we’re gonna do and it’s aspirational and it kind of aligns our organization. Let’s look at Microsoft’s mission statement, years after they became a billion-dollar company. One of the biggest companies in the world. “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Well, I’ll buy that. That’s cool. I can jump on that one. We’re changing the world. We’re helping everyone on the planet, every organization and person to achieve– I like I’m like oh that’s awesome. Probably paid an agency a lot of money for that. Let’s look at the one that they had in the early days. Bill Gates set the original mission statement as, “To put a computer on every desk and in every home.” Now the coolest thing is, that happened. Not all of those computers were Microsoft. There was, you know, Dell computers, and there were Apple computers, and everything else. But the mission statement that Bill Gates and the, and the founders of Microsoft set was, we are going to build a solution that would allow every desk and home to have this amazing technology. And then as they evolved as an organization I think that, I don’t know this to be the case, but let’s look at the evolution of Microsoft. They do a heck of a lot more than put computers on desks and in homes. Their fastest-growing line of business in the last 12 months has been Microsoft Cloud. It’s been widely publicized. So to say to empower every person, every organization on the planet to achieve more, that is more fitting with the Microsoft that exists today than the one that Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded years ago. So that brand mission statement is a key component to setting where our goals are as an organization.
Six Steps to Building Brand Identity – Designing the Culture
George: The next thing you need to do, using that mission statement, is to design your culture. And I’d love to tell you that coming up with an amazing culture is all you do is sit down and you craft out a recipe and four years later you have people say “Wow you have an amazing culture.” But it really is a trial and error kind of thing. It’s, you have some key tenets that you want to aspire to. Some people will call them core values. And a lot of cultures are built around these core values. Here are some things that are just non-negotiable. We’re gonna do X, Y, and Z. And we even bring that into the interview process as we hire new people. We say if you don’t fit these three core tenets of our organization we’re never going to get to the culture that we’re looking for. If we bring in a bunch of people that don’t fit with that value. The value proposition that we have for the organization. So culture is something that is constantly in evolution. It should tie back to that mission. It should also tie to the people that you’re able to add to your organization. And it’s kinda the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you set things up properly you should achieve, it’s the, it’s the lagging measure. We want this type of culture and we’re gonna measure it that we got here based upon these leading items.
Six Steps to Building Brand Identity – The Audience and the Value Proposition
George: You want to humanize your brand to choose an audience. You can’t do all things for all people. So you want to bring your brand down to the target market. You have this mission statement. We might not achieve it or maybe we achieve it and we’re going to change it. We have our core values. We are then going to start setting some expectations and a spotlight on the audience. And you know where I’m going with this. Customer. It’s the year of the customer. It should always be the year of the customer. We have that mission statement which aligns our staff, our customers, where we sit in the market to our core values and what we’re trying to achieve. We then set some behavioral expectations and we spotlight that customer base.
George: I think it’s really important as well when we develop our brand identity to understand the value proposition. And I think this is where a lot of our organization can flounder. Is when they have a muddy value proposition. And it usually happens when they start to grow. And they start to offer more things. And the effort that they put in the early days of a start-up and figuring out that value proposition, it becomes something that isn’t as important as chasing the next deal, putting out the fires that are out there. But we really need to hone in on that value proposition. I’ve been talking a lot about you know connecting those stories. If you have 200 people in your organization, they’re all talking to customers, how do you know that they are saying this thing that you want to say? It’s as you get bigger, it’s harder to tie that whole thing together. So putting the value proposition under a microscope on how you will achieve your mission statement and then discussing that offering and how you can differentiate from the competition with your culture or your team is how you’re going make sure that that value proposition hits its mark. It also evolves over time by the way.
Six Steps to Building Brand Identity – Developing the Look
George: Now the number five item in identifying your brand identity is developing the look. This is the part you’ve all been waiting for. We’re gonna come up with a brand name. And a lot of times that’s a make-or-break decision. I find it’s something where, can’t we just pick a name? I’m like, “Ahhh there’s a lot of unintended consequences if we pick certain names.” The other thing that I think is really cool is if you put a, if you put a test name on it. So we’re gonna do something we’re gonna call it Project X. It’s really hard to remove the name Project X 10 months later because your team has gotten invested. I’ve seen it happen a million times. We’ve put this name there while we’re trying to figure out — so maybe putting some thought into that early. As to what that name and the brand is going to be. So that it is timeless. Doesn’t mean that it can’t change if you come up with new iterations. So you have an overarching brand name for maybe one of your product lines. And then you’re going to start to put sub names of various things there. But just be careful because those things get a life of their own. And you want to make sure you think very clearly about where you’re going to be choosing this brand name.
George: Then you’ve got to come up with a slogan. Or a tagline. And this thing can change. But it needs to be memorable. We go back to the elevator pitch, wouldn’t it be great if every person that is articulating the elevator pitch of your brand ended on the same slogan or slam line? That’s catchy, witty and original. And it just really reeks of the brand that you’re trying to create.
George: Colors are powerful. They convey emotion and communicate your brand identity. It’s so important that 85% of people believe it accounts for over half the factors that come into play. Imagine an iconic brand like Pepsi, and if they put green in the logo. You’d be like, “What the hell is that?” I know that Pepsi is red, white and blue. It doesn’t matter how they iterate the swoop or whatever that is inside the logo. Or they put it in a circle or an oval or however they do it. Those colors are Pepsi to us because of the length of time that they’ve been associated with that brand.
George: How about things like the shape and the font? Think about brands that have tried to change their font. And then they change it back. Because they made a mistake. Or it wasn’t accepted in the marketplace. People were like no, we knew you by that typeface. And then think about brands that have not changed that. Or they changed it for a reason. Something as simple as we’re going to take the FedEx logo — remember how it used to have a bit of an italic feel to it so that it looked like it was moving things? And then they took the italics out of it and just made it bold. It might have been, I don’t know this, but it might have been tied to some change that they wanted to bring to the perception of that brand.
George: Let’s move into tone and voice. You know one of the coolest things that I’ve seen over the last 10 to 15 years is where brands are starting to come up with just a little stinger. So whenever their name is said there’s this audio signature that’s being used. But think about why that’s important. Some of the most successful means of communication for brands are things like podcasts. And like short little snippets of audio or videos that are being used in social media or on websites or in ad campaigns. And when you look at an ad campaign you have a very short period of time to articulate that message as I look at the animation in a banner. And I’m scrolling through. So to have a bit of audio, a little snippet of audio there that is associated to your brand, we see more and more large brands start to take on that when it comes to the tone. But it’s more than just that. It’s the way that messaging is written. It’s the way that people communicate when they’re out doing keynote speeches. It’s the way that the brand is being articulated inside podcasts.
George: Now let’s go to the logo. The logo is the face of your brand identity. It represents information about the company and what enables that brand recognition is that logo. Imagine seeing a MacBook without an apple on it. Or a Nike Runner without the swoop. It would be weird, right? Over the years that we have interacted with those companies or those products we’ve come to associate them to that one thing. The logo. It is so important. It’s what differentiates that brand from the competition. When you go to sell a pair of Nikes you wouldn’t rip the swoop off to go to sell it. It’s part of why people buy that product, it’s because the brand is on there. Now I can find a generic pair of runners that do the exact same thing as Nike. But the reason that Nike is able to command the price is because it has that brand recognition behind it. As you design your logo, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. It needs to be timeless and accurately represent your product and your brand identity as it matures. The other thing that I found over the years: how does your logo look in black and white? You know a lot of people go to a lot of effort to create these beautiful, colorful logos. And then down the road, they’re trying to reproduce that color and they’ve got to get, you know, shirts made up. Or they’ve got to get something made up and it’s like oh it’s really expensive to do that in full color, I just wanted to deliver… but yet the logo doesn’t look good in just one tone, one color. So you wanna think about what this thing might look like down the road. Can there be iterations on the brand? Keep in mind it’s extremely costly to rebrand with a new logo. So you want to make sure that whatever you’re designing isn’t a fad that you’ll regret in a year, and to keep it simple.
Six Steps to Building Brand Identity – Branding the Touchpoints
George: Now there’s one final piece and I think it’s quite important. And that is where you brand your touchpoints. It’s the piece that drives corporate marketers crazy. So you have this large organization and what you’re hoping is the way the brand goes to customer is the same all across the organization. And then you’ve got these touchpoints. You might have other products and services that are brands unto themselves. How are those being articulated? What are the slogans? What is the value proposition that’s being articulated? So it becomes this much larger thing. Imagine if a large brand, we’ll go back to Nike because we were using it earlier. Imagine if one rogue division in Nova Scotia decided to completely change the logo, completely change all the messaging and send some things out about Nike. It just isn’t gonna work. It isn’t going to fit that nationally articulated brand. So you want to make sure as your organization grows that the brand is on point and then all of the touchpoints with your customer, from lead to bleed, everything that is going out to that client is on-brand. Or on point when it comes to the way that you want to position.
George: With a strong brand it is easier to get to know the company that you are, that you are positioning. It’s about knowing who you are. And designing a reflection of what you’re all about. From the foundational steps of setting a mission statement and building a company culture to creating that physical reflection of your organization, the best advice is to stay true to who you are and build an identity around that. Your brand identity will get strong with a dedicated consistent approach and a lot of time. So be patient. And make sure that you’re listening to your customers. Thanks for joining us for this Master Sales Series of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.