Make It Happen Monday: Branding 101 At SXSW V2V

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Our team is attending SXSW V2V in Las Vegas this week, learning cutting edge techniques and technology from a wide variety of experts focused on startups, innovators, and you.  One of the inspiring sessions was taught by Justine Bloom (@inbloome) and Patrick van de Pijl (@patrickpijl ) called From Vision to Business Model to Brand.  Their branding training broke down the circle of branding that all organizations should think through in order to achieve a memorable brand.  Here are some of our notes that should help you to make branding happen for you and your startup.

Brand goes beyond looks… it’s how you act and behave. Good brand strategy is a lens for every audience. Brand will tend to build a reflection (or an image) of the buyer over time.  A great example of this is with automobiles. If you ask anyone to describe a Volvo, they will begin to describe the drivers that tend to purchase those automobiles. It is important that you build a brand around who you are trying to speak to.  Your customer is the stereotypical user of the brand.  For the purposes of building a brand you want to take the most stereotypical version of the customer and build a brand around them.

You can’t do a brand refresh without doing a culture refresh. There need to be behaviors within the culture that reflect the brand.

Self-image is how customers see (part of) themselves in your brand.  If your customers can see themselves in your brand you have already started to connect with them on a deeper, more emotional level.  You should ask yourself what parts of your beliefs would you like the customer to connect with.

Brand personality is the personification of your brand.  A great example of this is the Mac versus PC ads thanks to the actors that they chose to communicate their brand.  The brand’s character should be how you would describe your customer in three words or less.

Purpose and values are not the WHAT you do, but the WHY you do it.  These are the driving forces behind why the organization exists and rarely will it focus on what it is that you actually do.  Know why you exist.  Toms shoes is not a shoe company, but selling shoes is integral to their business model. Values will guide a brand towards delivering on its purpose.

Relationship succinctly describes how the brand interacts with the customer. The three buckets most brand relationships will fall into are: adult to child, child to child, or adult to adult.  Adult to adult is the most prevalant because community is so important in the world today.  Coupled with brand personality and your purpose, your relationship will drive the way that you connect with your customers.  A great example is Nike with their provocative coach, encouraging people to realize that they are greater than they are and spurring all of us on to achieve our best selves.

Think, feel, and do describes what will a customer ideally think, feel, and do after engaging with your brand.  After a customer has experienced your brand, how should they feel?  A great example of this is Nike.  Nike wants you to feel that you can be an athlete and that you are the only thing standing in your way from becoming an athlete.  The action they want you to take is to get out there and move.  Hence, the just do it slogan.

Artifacts are the visuals, experience, and sound that are the way that a customer will recognize your brand.  Logo is absolutely crucial, but everything needs to be branded through and through.  A great example of this is the sound that Intel has or Richard Branson, who is a person that is clearly a brand artifact for Virgin.

The center of the brand compass is the rallying cry.  It is the most difficult aspect to accomplish, but it is there to connect people to your brand and summarize all of the sections of the brand compass.  It is not a slogan, but a great example would be Nike’s “Just Do It” or Uber’s “Everyone’s private driver”. 

Branding isn’t easy, but it is imperative for brands that are going to last.  Using this brand strategy format you should be able to clearly lay out a branding plan on one page to easily execute your brand vision.

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