Let’s talk about what a brand IS and ISN’T and how designing blueprints for a Brand Mansion will make you stand out from your competition.
A Tale of Two Battling Businesses
Once upon this one time, there were two restaurants that competed for the business of all the tourists that passed through their tiny town.
One day, a young family drove up and parked in the lot between their two businesses.
“Eat here!” the owner of the first restaurant called out. “We’re a family diner that’s been in business for 60 years.”
“Eat here!” the second owner invited with a wave. “We make authentic Italian cuisine from scratch every morning. We’ve won Best Italian in the State four years running.”
“Oh? We love Italian!” the father said before turning back to the first owner. “What do you make?”
“We make everything!” the first owner replied, looking at the small family. “You name it, we can cook it. Burgers! Spaghetti! We even have lobster, if you’re feeling fancy!”
“Oh. What is your best dish?” the wife asked the first owner.
“Whatever you order!” the man replied happily. “Everything we make is amazing!”
“How about you?” the wife asked, turning to the diner’s competitor.
“Well,” he replied. “Our spaghetti with monster meatballs is easily the most popular with children, but our Chicken Parmesan is to die for and has won more than one state competition. Come in and find out why!”
Which restaurant would you try?
Where do you think the family ate?
Why Branding Matters
What is branding, and why does it matter?
Stated briefly: Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
If your branding is weak, no one has heard of you and no one is talking about you.
If your branding is poor, strangers mention you but never say the same thing (and probably ramble on about things you wish they wouldn’t).
If your branding is good, strangers mention you and can recall at least one on-brand detail.
If your branding is excellent, they can recite your language like a script you paid them to read.
And, in this day and age, if your branding is false, you are dead to Millennials and Gen Z. Torched. Canceled.
This why branding matters.
Why Do So Many Companies Have Poor Branding?
When a business’s branding is poor, it shows the company hasn’t done the work to figure out:
- who they are
- whom they serve
- what problem they solve
- why customers should choose them
Weak brands spend all their time, effort, and energy trying to filter everyone INTO their customer filter.
Strong branding requires you to position yourself in a way that filters some potential customers OUT.
FOR EXAMPLE: Think back to the “Tale of the Two Battling Businesses”
Which of the two restaurants in the small town would you try?
The diner in the story is banking on everyone who is not in the mood for Italian. They do this by offering everything else you could possibly want while proclaiming it’s all equally “amazing!”
In contrast, the Italian restaurant is banking on everyone interested in trying award-winning Italian food. If Italian isn’t your thing, then they let the diner serve you.
This is a power move.
Not only is the Italian restaurant more likely to attract ideal customers, but just think of the inventory each owner must buy to support their menus.
Who has a more manageable and predictable budget?
NOW IMAGINE if there were more than two restaurants in that little town.
Let’s say there was also a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and a Chipotle.
Where do you think the traveling family would eat then?
The more you’re surrounded by people who know exactly what customer they’re aiming for, the more likely you are to disappear from the podium of competition.
And if you’re not competing up to current standards, you’re not in business.
This is why weak branding is a recipe for failure for all online businesses.
What Makes Branding Powerful?
Excellent branding requires an objective analysis of:
- Business strengths
- Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
- Product weaknesses
- Company personality
- Customer wants & needs
Getting this analysis in black-and-white of words and numbers takes some mental heavy lifting. This can be quite difficult and require nerd-level research, which is why it so often goes undone. In its place, business owners chase trends or do things that sound good to them.
One of the trappings of poor branding is to market general platitudes that are likely to resonate with 80% of everybody to support their growth. Poorly branded companies then cast wide nets then bank on their massive scopes to rake in something worthwhile.
There was a time when this kind of worked. But those days are over.
If you’re selling on the internet, you need a strong brand — which many confuse to be a cool logo and a few hyperbolic descriptive words.
Remember: Your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room.
Branding is NOT your logo. Your brand is what people say when they recognize your logo. Your job is to get them to say exactly what you want them to say without having to think about it.
This doesn’t happen when you market to 80% of everybody, nor does it happen when you embrace your own hyperbole.
So when does it happen?
When you’re ready to take off your rose-colored glasses and get down to the brass tacks about how you serve your customer and whose lives you improve.
Strong Brands are the Result of Focused Grunt Work
Strong branding requires knowing both your audience and your product inside-out. This understanding is then used to find the language and imagery that connects with them in an internet city filled with competition.
Questions you need to be able to answer about your audience are:
- Who are your target customers?
- What are their goals?
- What demographics do they belong to?
- What are their pain points?
- What are their motivators for purchasing?
Designing a sustainable brand means comparing these answers against your company strengths and skillsets.
You need to ask yourself:
- What do you do best?
- What kind of valuable content can you create regularly?
- What do you enjoy promoting?
- Where do you need to invest in trendspotting?
There is an entire world out there fighting for your customer’s attention. If you want people to remember you and give you their money, you need to make their world a better place in an ongoing way.
Because the benefits you trade for their time, money, and attention will become your brand.
All Designs Need a Framework
All great brands are carefully designed. There is no “right” design to use as an infrastructure; it only matters that the metaphor supports the concepts it’s being used to uphold.
FOR EXAMPLE: When I was a PR Manager at a publishing company, I used a spider web to demonstrate the effectiveness of each author’s marketing plan. When I was helping local businesses brand, I used a pyramid as the brand framework.
Now the market has shifted a bit and I’m going to use a Brand Mansion as the metaphor to bring your brand’s vision from a mental vision to the third dimension. I think you’ll like it.
But even if you find the imagery a bit cheesy, you won’t forget it. And that’s the point.
Because being unforgettable is one of keys to building a strong brand and the term “Brand Mansion” is hard to un-hear as a concept.
And that’s the goal.
Building Your Brand Mansion
Let’s build mansions together, shall we?
Your mansion can look any way you’d like, so long as every building block you include has a purpose.
We’ll talk more about those in the next post.
For now, all you need to know is: Just like building a REAL mansion, building a Brand Mansion requires taking action on your blueprints to build something in reality.
Random work in random ways on random days doesn’t cut it.
Concrete action is required to create concrete results. If you want 100 people who have never met you to all say the same thing about you, you have to give them all the same experience.
Wherever they are in the world, each customer needs to connect with you in a designed way. Only then will you start to see the results you’ve been working for.
Proven benefits of establishing a strong brand include:
- LONGER engagement on your website
- DECREASED bounce rates
- INCREASED backlinks and social media shares
- IMPROVED Google ranking
And, most importantly:
- MORE SALES
I’m about to do this for myself while showing you how to do it
So subscribe to this blog and follow me on Twitter to design and grow a brand that stands apart in a sea of competition.
Next Post: Establishing Reputation Bedrock