Your logo is not your brand
What is brand essence? Seth Godin is a marketing strategist, best-selling author, entrepreneur, and public speaker. Here’s his awesome definition of a brand:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
How you think and feel about a brand is what Seth is referring to as the essence of the brand. It’s not about your hip color scheme or your million-dollar logo. It’s not something you can see or touch, it’s an intangible. What do I mean by intangible? Here’s an example of tangible vs intangible brand experiences:
My Saucony Kinvara running shoes are very lightweight.
My Saucony Kinvara running shoes make me a faster runner, and I feel amazing when I run in them!
See the difference? Anyone can pick up one of my shoes and tell that they are super lightweight. But when I pick up my shoes, I imagine I’m running my fastest marathon through the streets of LA or Chicago. I can hear the crowd cheering me on as I float across the finish line in my magic shoes. That’s brand essence. That feeling is why I keep buying the Kinvara. Not because of their color scheme or their logo.
How do you build an amazing brand essence? Here are 5 principles every business should follow:
1. Be yourself
Your logo is not your brand, you are. Your logo, in and of itself, does not sell your product or service, you do. Your logo will not get people to believe in you and your brand, but your unique personality will. So just be yourself. Be authentically you. There may be a lot of people offering the same product or service as you, but you do it in such a way that is authentically you, and no one else can touch that. Allow your personality to come through in everything you do and you’ll start to see amazing results.
2. Be meaningful
It doesn’t do much good to offer the wrong product or service to the wrong group of people. It’s important that you are providing something of meaning and purpose to the right audience. This takes some research, trial-and-error, and course correction to get this right. You should be constantly asking your audience what they want. Ask for feedback, know their pain points, and provide valuable solutions.
3. Be generous
It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but in order to sell it, you’ve got to give it away for free. One of the best ways to build trust in you and your brand is to give away your best stuff – free of charge. This demonstrates a high level of commitment on your part, belief in your own brand, and the proof that you can deliver the goods. You can tell them how great your brand is and they might believe you. But if you show them then they’ll know, and you’ll have won them over.
4. Be consistent
It doesn’t do much good to deliver an amazing brand experience every once in a while. You have to reliably convey the same message in order to develop trust and credibility in your brand. Think about Disney. They have consistently delivered the same brand experience since their inception in 1923: Create magic.
5. Be known, liked, & trusted
The objective in building your brand essence is to get people to know you, like you, and trust you.
Develop a presence with your brand and be everywhere. Create great content, promote via your website, use social media to reach and interact with your audience, and be live and in person whenever possible. Show up at events and Meetups, shake hands, and look people in the eye. Being able to connect physically with your audience builds belief and trust like nothing else.
Don’t think for a minute that you’re going to get everyone on the planet to like you and your brand, it just won’t happen. But, if you are being authentically you and offering something of meaning and value to the right group of people, chances are really high that they will like you. And it is they who will become your most loyal fans and your best customers.
Trust in a brand is built by consistently delivering as promised and making good if you ever fall short. It takes time to develop a trustworthy brand, but if you adhere to the principles above you will definitely get there, and most likely sooner than you think.
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Anyone can spend a few hundred bucks and get a really great logo in just a couple of days. Developing an amazing brand essence is not that simple. It takes your unique personality delivering a valuable, meaningful message consistently over time. It may take a while for your brand to be known liked, and trusted, but once it is people will start to believe in you. And it’s when people believe in you that the magic really happens!
Think about an experience you’ve had with a brand where you could identify the brand essence. What did you think and feel about the experience? What do you want people to think and feel about your brand? Take a moment and share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear about your brand essence experiences!