Your brand is the most powerful part of your marketing. In previous posts I have talked about what a brand is and that we always have a brand, whether we mean to or not. I have also talked about how you need to find out what your brand is before you can start to shape it into what you want it to be. The question then is, what do you want your brand to be?
Everywhere we go these days people are talking about thinking outside of the box. I could not agree more. The world is full with people in boxes and it doesn’t do us any good. However, when it comes to branding, you do need to think about being in a box. A sort of brand box. The first step in building your brand is to find it’s core, the essence of it, the heart of it if you will. You could say that we need to decide what box in people’s minds we want our brand to fit in.
We all know that it is a really complicated world we live in. We get bombarded with thousands of messages every day, advertising, different products, different services, companies etc. etc. Everybody is trying to get our attention. In order to make sense of all this and not get totally confused, we try to make sense of it all by organising in our minds somehow. You could say that we walk around with a filing cabinet in our heads, and each time we come across something we think is worth storing and remembering, we put it in the appropriate drawer in that filing cabinet.
We as marketers need to try to cut through that all that messaging noise to get people’s attention, interest and get them to remember us. We want them to put us in a drawer in that mental filing cabinet of theirs, and we want to be at the top of the pile in that drawer so that we are the first thing they come across when they delve back into that drawer to get what they need.
But because so many things are trying to get into that filing system of ours, we become extremely selective. We only file things that make perfect sense to us. Things that we know exactly where to store. If there is any confusion whatsoever about which filing drawer things fit in, we discard it. It’s just too much hassle and we don’t want to have to work to find out about it and categorize it.
So as soon as people see your brand, they need to be able to make sense of it immediately. They need to be able to decide, in a split second, which drawer in the filing cabinet to put it in.
Let’s say I notice an ad for a company that cleans windows. It is absolutely clear to me what they do and I put them in the drawer for “Window Cleaning Companies”. I see another one that makes coffee and put that in the drawer for “Coffee Making Companies”. Then when I need somebody to clean the windows, I go back go the drawer for window cleaning companies, et voilà, there it is. I need coffe, and I know exactly what drawer to look in and there is that coffee company.
What if I come across a company that does coffee, tea, bisquits and jam? Will that make sense? Yep, because they are all teatime sort of things. The drawer then becomes “Tea Time” drawer, rather than a coffee drawer, tea drawer, bisquite drawer or jam drawer. How about if a business cleans windows and then upholsters furniture. Eh? Sorry – what? That’s not really going to make sense to us. There isn’t really a logical common drawer for those things so we don’t know which drawer to put it in, and we forget about it. Don’t make us work too hard. If we have to think, we won’t bother. There are just too many other things going on!
It’s really, really important to make sure that we are clear on who we are, and make it clear to others. What this also does is provide us with a focus, guidance within our company as to what we can and can’t do with our brand. When we are thinking about adding new products or services, we can refer back to the drawer we want to be filed in and if we find that what we are thinking of adding doesn’t fit into that, we know to avoid it – or at least we are aware that we are stretching things and can then start to formulate strategies on how to adapt our brand accordingly. But that’s another story :)
So which drawer do you want your business to be in and are you making it crystal clear to people?