Even though I love strategy and execution, I like to think of myself as a branding guy at heart. I’ve made logos, helped a few organizations create new brands for themselves, and helped organizations figure out what to do to improve the brand they have. I love that kind of work.
I’ve read a lot of great stuff on branding, and I could probably write all day about it if I had the time. But to be a little more practical, I’ll share 5 components of a successful brand that I find myself repeating over and over:
- Purpose over promise. You need to have a clear, tangible, repeatable iteration of the reason why you exist. This may or may not be your mission statement; it could be a tagline. For example, where I work our mission statement is discovering life with God for the good of the world. But we’ve been using a simple tagline lately: find your go. (Actually, we’ve been using the hashtag #findyourgo, but it’s definitely a tagline too.)It’s better to show this purpose than tell it yourself. If your purpose is to feed hungry people, show the people you’re feeding. Don’t just say “we feed hungry people.”
- Consistency of narrative and design. Not every tagline, or story you tell, or social post or email or print piece will be amazing. And that’s okay! Don’t underestimate how important it is to constantly reinforce your identity, to the point it becomes familiar. Familiarity doesn’t lead to boredom; it leads to positive associations and, eventually, warm feelings.
- Emotion that inspires loyalty. Psychologists have observed a strong correlation between emotion and decision making. People who experience damage to the part of the brain that affects emotion also experience a profound difficulty with making even simple decisions, like what to eat for breakfast. Emotion is necessary to help people become intentional about connecting with your brand, about choosing it over the other options that are in front of them.
- Employee engagement is an incredible barometer of a brand’s strength. If your employees and partners aren’t excited about your brand, how likely is it that your brand will resonate with your constituents? If your staff wear your t-shirts by choice, you’re on the right track. Keep going.
- Responsiveness matters today more than ever. Be human, not an institution. Take advantage of every opportunity for conversation you get.