Is there some secret branding sauce you can slather onto a marketing message that is otherwise dry as toast? Does your brand need to be as searing as a blacksmith's red hot poker, scorched into the buyer's mind? Does it need to be cooked up over some sorcerer's caldron during the dark of the moon and sprinkled like fairy dust onto your logo?
When I started an ad agency called iPromotions.com back in the '90s, I got a lot of questions like these about branding. Whether the client was a venture capital funded start-up or a half-billion dollar brand, the misconceptions about branding were remarkably the same.
These branding questions are good - but fortunately the answer to these questions is no. In fact, I wish I'd written a book about brand messaging before. I could have upped my fees, back in the day.
So then how do you use your brand to reach more people and successfully market your products or services?
In reality, your brand is like a simple device. You use this device over and over again to put across the essence of your company. It's boiled down to a simple image of what you represent. The operative word here is "simple."
Let's play a little game. What are the Brands you associate with these slogans?
"Oh, what a feeling!"
"The King of Beers"
"The happiest place on earth"
"Just do it"
"American by Birth. Rebel by choice"
How did you do on your brand recall? Show me your brand savvy and post the Brands associated with these taglines onto my Facebook page. That last one is a little hard.
To Woo or Not To Woo
Branding is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your brand needs to reflect the needs of your marketplace. It needs to be both classic and timely. It begins with your startup phase and never stops.
Because it's simple, your brand needs to be repeated to be effective. Conversely, because it needs to be repeated, it must be simple. Here's why.
The average person has to be exposed to information 7 to 15 times before acting on it. Even a highly intelligent person requires at least 3 exposures to that same information in order to retain it and internalize it. That means if you're not reinforcing your brand, you're leaving money on the table.
Consider your customers' experience as they go through their day to day activities. Your message, sales proposition and your brand are a blip in a sea of messages.
Your brand needs to be powerful enough to rouse your customers into action, and at the same time it needs to actively express you - what you're about and the uniqueness of your offering. In fact, for people to decide to hire you or buy from you at all, your brand needs to be crystal clear, exciting and alluring. It needs to stand up to relentless reinforcement.
We learn by repetition. I think about the power of repetition every time I automatically start singing-along with songs from my high school days.
The question is, did you set out to learn those words by heart? Or did you just pick them up after hearing the song a hundred times? Once you catch a sonic glimpse of the song's chorus, how easy is it to get that song out of your head? Odds are that it's not easy at all. It's catchy. Persistent. Relentless, even.
So it goes with branding. Once you design your marketing message, carry it forward through all your promotional materials. Consistently use your slogan, logo and other brand elements throughout your marketing materials and other types of customer communication. Let it be persistent.
Branding is Like the Wheels on A Bike
In order to get your message across in all its subtle glory, it needs to be simple and seamlessly circular ... like the wheels on a bike. It needs to go around and around in your prospect's head like that song on the radio.
You may feel a bit self-conscious about repeating yourself, thinking that your prospects might become bored with your message if you use it too often. In reality, brand repetition equates to consistency in the vast majority of consumers' minds.
Do you want to see my latest branding in action? The tagline for my publishing company is "You Tell the Story. We Tell the World." This brand slogan is used to reinforce the company's mission.
Using this tactic lends a sense that a business is bigger than it actually is. It also lends consistency to your message, regardless of which rookie on your staff is trying his level best to louse it all up (LOL). Brand repetition means consistency. Now you can put it work for yourself!