You craft your Brand Identity to share who you are and how you help others. That’s what you’re saying, but your Brand Image is what people hear. Its interpretation is at work.
Because of the analysis factor, building your Brand Image is never one-and-done. Instead, we adjust it so the perception is what we want it to be.
So Brand Image is like driving. It takes constant tiny adjustments to keep in your lane and get where you want to go.
Those tweaks can be changes to flow with global shifts. Or they may be small adjustments because of perceptions undermining your efforts. And they tie into the three key factors of your Brand Image.
- Clarifying the importance and value of your Image
- Course correction – managing your Brand Image
- Knowing what your target audience wants from your Brand
Is there a wrong message undermining your marketing
Several years ago, I met the head of a high-end consulting company. We were at a business event we were both sponsoring. I’d heard of him, as we had mutual friends and clients, so I genuinely wanted to learn more about his company.
I approached his booth, introduced myself, and said, “Hey, tell me about the company and how it works.” I stood there for several minutes and listened to his pitch.
It sounded like a great service, something I could even use myself. But something felt off, and at first glance, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was.
When he finished, I said, “That sounds cool. Thank you.” I said my goodbyes and turned to walk to the next company’s display.
Before I could take two steps, he stopped me. “Wait! Before you go. Can I please ask you a question? You’re our ideal target audience. I’m curious why you didn’t go for our service?”
Since he asked, I felt obliged to give him my feedback. I paused and scanned the poorly put-together branding showcase in his trade show booth. The clip art images on his marketing display seemed to be mass-produced. A second glance told me probably by a junior graphics production artist (at best).
I looked back at him and pegged his rumpled T-shirt and blue jeans as brands from either TJ Maxx or H&M.
Even from a few feet away, I could see the service price list. This company’s fees were five times that of its closest competitor.
He’d told me his service would result in a state-of-the-art, high-quality result. But the rest of his brand left me in doubt.
“Well, you’re selling ‘upmarket,’ but your brand is ‘down market.’” I’d heard this person loved brutal honesty. So telling him my unfiltered thoughts would be received as a gift.
And it hit him like a ton of bricks. He understood immediately.
For more examples of how we helped recreate brands for clients, check out my book. It’s Your Brand Should Be Gay (Even If You’re Not): The Art and Science of Creating an Authentic Brand.
At Branding For The People, we know you can’t control 100% of how people interpret your Brand Identity. Creating first impressions, like driving, need tweaks to get where you want to go.
You need organized checks and balances to keep things on target. In brand marketing, this translates to tracking and analyzing results.
Importance and Value of your Image
When meeting with clients, marketing your brand, or even dating, there is one common thread. It’s the first impression you create. And you do it daily.
When you want to make an impression, there’s something you keep in mind. The result you’re after.
So you package yourself to create a specific impression. You do that with choices in clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and shoes. Add to that what and how you say things.
In this case, you are your brand. And the steps you took to make your impact are your Brand Identity.
But, the people you meet and interact with don’t see your Identity. Instead, they interpret what they see into your Brand Image. From that, they make decisions that determine what your relationship will be.
Over time, your Brand Image creates recognition. This leads to sharing with friends and referrals. And it increases sales because people know, like, and trust you.
It’s the visuals and experiences they have that create a lasting impression. You want them to build credibility and loyalty with your brand.
Want to see this done well? Take a look at Zappos, Dollar Shave Club, or Nike. People love them for the experiences they have. And they tell everyone.
Course Correction: Managing Your Brand Image
When working with your Brand Image, you are working with the power of perception. It’s the power of the mind.
People are skeptical. They have had poor encounters with brands that weren’t what they said they were. And they weren’t ethical.
So to overcome this, building the know, like, and trust factors is essential.
Good branding builds your desired perception in an honest, authentic way.
What your prospects want from your brand
Many businesses start by building a product or service. Then they try to find a target audience. But this approach can miss what the prospect wants.
It’s more effective to start with your ideal client personas. First, ask what they are looking for and what they want. Then, how can you help them improve their lives?
Next, add your purpose, who you are, and what makes you unique.
Distill your singleness into a simple one or two sentence statement. This becomes your internal staff guide.
Verify that your mission, vision, and values connect with your prospects. Give them what they are looking for.
Blake Mycoskie founded Toms shoes. Blake saw children struggling and suffering from no shoes. So Toms core mission became a free pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair of shoes sold.
People liked thinking that they could help others. All they had to do was buy Toms shoes. Children got help. The Toms mission got support.
A successful Brand Image focuses on your audience and what they want. It’s built from their needs, wants, and goals. It engages with them rather than talks at them.
Your Brand Image connects with prospects. It makes them feel good about what you do. In return, your business grows and thrives like Toms shoes. They are non-language emotional reactions. That’s why the visuals and experiences are so important.