Three Steps to Branding Anything
When Steve Jobs brought us the iPod in 2001, we were charmed. I don’t know if you bought one at the time. I did, even though I was not into listening to music via small devices, as some of my friends were back then.
The iPod was sleek, simple, and hot! You had to have it. Holding it made you feel smart and cutting edge.
Was that feeling intentionally created on Steve’s part? You bet. And, my friend, that is branding: consistently creating an intentionally preplanned feeling in your consumers when they encounter your product or service.
You know, when I first held the iPod, I did not consciously think about how it made me feel. I did not stop and say, “Oh wow, this makes me feel smart, hip and cutting edge. I must have it.” No, I just knew I liked it. A lot. But in reality, the reason I liked it is because it engendered the right feelings inside of me, feelings that the designers knew a 20-something would feel when holding an iPod.
The way your clients feel will determine whether or not they will come back. Building and protecting your brand is paramount for leaders to understand and excel in—just like Steve Jobs did. Resist the temptation to simply hand this over to your marketing team.
Let me share with you three simple questions that must be answered when you brand anything.
Step One: Who is your audience?
This may not be the fun part, but you must go through this step carefully. Always begin here. If you want to design a logo, build a new store, create a new image for yourself, or decorate your office, you must think of your audience.
Are you aiming to attract a young audience? Male or female? A specific income bracket or educational level? Persons with a particular type of a job? Define your client. Then find out what their likes and dislikes may be.
For Steve Jobs, the iPod had to be sold to a young, hip crowd, who weren’t afraid of technology. A crowd that valued music. Why is this important to define? Keep reading…
Step Two: How should they feel?
When I go to the Walmart website, I feel that this is an affordable place, simply by the colors and the lack of sophistication. Guess what, they want people to feel exactly that. A sense that their products are affordable. Walmart has the resources to create a very sophisticated look that communicates that they are top notch or high-end. But that is not the image they choose to project.
I recommend that you choose three to five words that describe the feelings you’d like your consumers to feel. For example, when we were designing our clinics, the words we chose were: professional, warm, elegant, and cutting edge. This is because that’s what we thought our target patient-base should feel in order for them to want to come back and see us. So from the size of the building, to the stone, to the chairs and decor, our intent was to create that feeling.
Now, I am not a plastic surgeon. Those doctors need to communicate something different. If you were to go to one of their offices, what would you feel? You guessed it…fancy, high-end, exclusive. Well, if you are letting a doctor change the shape of your nose, and you feel from the moment you enter her office that she will give you a high-end, fancy, exclusive nose, then you are more likely to let her.
Most of us would like to skip past these first two steps. We want to rush into step three. We just want to design it and do it. We want to talk logo and colors. But, we must not neglect the first two questions.
Choosing these key words can take several hours, days, weeks or longer. But once chosen, these words will become the cornerstone of how your image to the world will be communicated. Anyone on your team needs to know them. From the way our team dresses, to how we carry ourselves, to how our products or services are presented should consistently fit within those words.
Whether you are building a church, writing a book, or creating a blog, follow Steve Jobs’ example. Identify your audience and decide how they need to feel when they hold your product, walk into your building, look at your book, or first step into your church.
Make them feel that right way, and your chances to attract them back again (either to sell to them or to help them) will significantly increase.
Step Three: What design elements will create that feeling?
If you are clear on step two, this question will be much easier to answer. Do not design something with simply the intent of making it look good. Design only to create the feeling that you defined in step two which you’d like your audience to feel.
This is where professional help should come into play. Colors, fonts, layout, order, simplicity, size—anything that has to do with appearance or will be used for communication with your clients—should be examined closely. Much like combining the individual components of a symphony, create your brand piece by piece, keeping the final product and feeling in mind. A professional designer can help you derive the feelings you are targeting for your product or service. But you must define those feelings in advance which you wish to evoke from your audience.
Of course, brand never trumps substance. If the iPod didn’t work well, the edgy feeling one gets when holding it would be quickly lost. But when you have the substance, adding the right branding will take you to the stratosphere.
Our brands will engender feelings in others one way or another. Let them be the ones we target.
I encourage you as a leader to create powerful brands that serve your grand mission.
For Further Reading: