If you want your company to be successful, you’ll need to present your brand to the public in at least some ways. For some brands, that means an extensive marketing and advertising campaign, with your brand front and center on billboards, TV spots, and online ads. For others, that means changing the layout, colors, and style of your store’s interior.
Any engagement you have with a customer or a prospect is an opportunity to showcase your brand, in one way or another, and while every brand is different, there are some fundamental rules you’ll have to follow to be successful.
The Fundamental Rules
Make sure you keep these rules in mind when developing your brand management, marketing, and advertising strategies:
- Have a consistent style guide (and follow it). First, don’t allow your staff to take action and plan campaigns with a loose, ethereal idea of what your brand is. You need to formalize everything with a consistent brand style guide, which everyone in your organization—from designers to accountants—can refer to when they have a question about how to present your brand. These guidelines will explain how to use your logos, your core colors, your taglines, your slogans, and even your voice in all manner of materials. That way, you can ensure consistency across multiple departments.
- Always invest in high-quality materials. Next, make sure you’re always investing in the best-quality materials you can afford. You can have a great message and a fantastic brand behind it, but if you’ve printed your message and image on a shoddy display, it may leave people with a bad impression. If you’re investing in a custom printed tent, canvas, or other marketing material, make sure you do your research to understand what you’re buying.
- Differentiate between presentation styles. That said, avoid the temptation to replicate the same successful application of your brand over and over. If you’re used to advertising on billboards and TV, consider adopting a digital campaign. If you’re used to relying on still images, try video. Experiment with different mediums and presentation styles to capture multiple sub-demographics within your target audience, and develop a stronger sense of what your overall brand represents.
- Keep your brand visible and memorable. It’s easy to make your brand a secondary consideration, but it’s important to keep it visible and memorable. Otherwise, your audience may watch an ad or see one of your marketing materials, but have no idea which company was behind it. Using memorable hooks, like an iconic logo or a memorable tagline, can help you solidify this memorability.
- Remember secondary demonstrations of brand identity. Your brand doesn’t always manifest as a logo or a tagline; don’t forget about the secondary demonstrations of your brand identity. For example, what does your “brand voice” sound like, and what level of vocabulary do you typically use? What smells, tastes, and sounds do people associate with your brand?
- Never copy a competitor. It’s tempting to look to a successful competitor and try to copy their style or strategy, but this is almost always a bad idea. Copying them directly shows a lack of creativity on your part, and may cause brand confusion among your shared demographics; your job should be to distinguish your brand as much as possible. Take inspiration from competitors, and learn from their successes and mistakes, but don’t outright copy them.
- Highlight a story, not a product. Storytelling is a much more effective way to present a brand than simply describing or showcasing your product. The story doesn’t have to be a literal beginning-middle-end narrative, but it should convey a sequence of events. For example, instead of advertising a pocket knife, advertise a situation where a person would find themselves in need of a pocket knife.
- Empathize with your customer. Messages resonate much stronger when you learn to empathize with your target demographic. What is your target customer feeling when they find a need for your product? What daily situations do they find themselves in that you could exploit for humor and/or relatability?
Don’t Be Afraid to Change
Yes, we were just talking about the need for consistency and predictability in your brand presentation, but at the same time, you also need to be willing to experiment and evolve. That doesn’t mean you need to tear your brand standards down and rebuild them every time you find a new way to advertise, but it does mean you can tweak your voice, your image, or your message to see which methods work best—and keep the ones that work out. Experimentation and AB testing are the best ways to improve your brand presentation over time, so make use of them!