The 4 Cornerstones of Brand Identity
with Trav Lubinsky
with guest Trav Lubinsky #MakingBank S4E31
Your brand is your company. It’s the first point of contact for most people, it’s what draws people in and ultimately it determines the way you are thought of by the world. It goes without saying then, that building and managing your brand correctly is extremely important, but if doing so were easy we would all be millionaires by now.
Knowing how to position yourself and maintain a consistent, relatable and engaging image is not an exact science. Sure, there are some elements that are more cut and dry, and we all know the importance of logos, color palettes and typography in creating appeal, but it’s what lies underneath that truly matters.
To build a brand with lasting power, you need to start at the foundations, build slowly, and always remember the following 4 underlying elements that everything else emanates from. Think of these cornerstones not as standalone objects, but intertwining support systems that interact and involve one another in order to build and support the entire structure.
People already know what you’re doing, but they need to know why you’re doing it. If your brand is based around building the most comfortable running shoe, share what got you started. Maybe running helped you through a divorce, or maybe you just found a way to beat shin splints. Either way, be real.
Remaining authentic is the most powerful tool you have, and it can’t be faked. Always remember why you started. Find what is genuine about your story and build from there. Having a strongly stated mission and identity can also help hold your entire team accountable and keep you on track through hard times.
Speaking with your actions is more important than speaking with your words, and treating your employees like the living, breathing human beings they are is a good place to start. Put time and effort into making sure they are happy not only with their jobs but also have the tools to be happy in their overall lives. But it doesn’t end there.
Who are you hiring? Where are you sourcing your products from? Are you environmentally conscious?
Are you speaking out on issues of importance? Most companies steer clear of this, but it can be very powerful to speak on current issues if they mean something to you. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, even if you know it’s going to turn some people off. What drives some people away can make you all that more attractive to others and build a loyal customer base.
Are you funny? Serious? Angry at something? It’s okay to be a number of things, but it’s important to be consistent and distinct.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t exactly hire this out. You can hire social media managers, content writers and artists galore, but if you’re trying to create an appearance that doesn’t reflect your true identity, they’ll only be papering over something that is bound to emerge eventually.
This brings us back to treating your employees well and remaining authentic. The way you treat your people is the way you can expect them to represent you and work when you’re not around, no matter how generously you believe their salaries to be. Whoever you are as a business owner and boss is going to dictate the reality of your company’s personality.
Finally, it all comes together by building content. Everything else is baked into what you produce for consumption by your audience.
Developing your content is a 3 headed monster. The first head of the monster is the what. Are you creating articles? Films? Graphics? Memes? Some combination therein? This all depends on who your target audience is. Find out where they are online and what type of content they like. If you’re pedalling heart monitors to boomers, memes probably aren’t a great avenue for you.
The second head is topics. There is something to be said for talking about your products directly, explaining what makes you unique or better than your competitors, but the real bread and butter here is to create tangentially related content that engages, entertains, and ultimately draws in a much wider audience that you can then redirect to your page.
Are you a board game company? Instead of simply talking about your games, create content around the importance of playing in general. You can talk about mental health benefits, the chance to bond with friends and family, how the intellectual stimulation leads to enhanced functioning in other parts of your life, etc.
Drilling info about your products and services directly into people get boring. Getting creative and talking about related concepts interests people and has the power to find customers that may not have wound up on your page otherwise.
Finally, the third head of the monster is quality. No matter what you want to say, the quality of the content matters most, and this is the toughest part to pull off. Not many people can create compelling writing, graphics or pictures, and even fewer can create compelling content for you, as in, for what you believe in rather than what they believe in.
Nonetheless, this is what you need the most. You can have a great product, know where to find your audience, and have a great plan for building content around topics that will engage, but if your writing falls flat, it will all be for naught. The ability to grab attention with entertaining/thought provoking content that people engage with and remember is worth paying for if you can’t do it yourself.
In the midst of the digital age, it’s surprising how many companies still don’t understand the importance of brand identity, or how to engage effectively with their audience. This is still an area where you can significantly outperform even the biggest brands, separate yourself from them and grab market share.
Remember why you started and remain true to yourself. Be consistent, be proud, and don’t be afraid to shout your thoughts and feelings from a mountaintop. The people who hear your call are the reason you got into this in the first place.