By Gina Morgan
One day in 2nd grade, our teacher, Sister Lorraine, asked the class to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up and to explain why. While 31 crayon-wielding children happily complied, I folded my paper in thirds, drew 3 pictures, and wrote:
I want to be a...
- Professional candy striper because I want to help people but I don't like blood. (Still true 35-years later!)
- Actress because I would be good at remembering my lines. (After 1-year of college I realized my memory wasn’t exceptional and promptly switched to a marketing major.)
- Gas station attendant because I like the smell of gasoline. (Yikes!! Could this be why I lost my amazing memory skills?!)
As a 6-year old, an identity crises is cute, but having one as a business makes it hard, if not impossible, to succeed. How can you make sure you've got a strong brand? I've had the honor of learning from some brilliant branding professionals and here’s what I’ve learned – Branding, like many things, is simple when you stay committed to a single message. Here are the basic guidelines:
Step #1: Decide what your company wants to be when it grows up.
The hardest part of branding may be deciding what your company wants to be when it grows up. Many adults (possibly even I!) don’t know what they want to be when they "grow-up." When you own a business it’s critical to know what part of the market you want to dominate. Externally, you can easily communicate with customers and create a niche. Internally, it helps you prioritize your marketing resources.
Checkpoint: The rule of 30-20-10
Picture this: You’re in room with 30-competitors and a line of 20-potential clients walks by giving you 10-seconds to talk. What would you say? What is the one thing you want each person to remember about your company when they walk out the door? Will being generic or vague be memorable?
Step #2: Write-it down, succinctly and specifically.
Put on your future vision goggles now! See your company 5, 10 and 15-years down the road. Envision what you are doing, how you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. Now, write it down. Be very specific and clear. You’re on your way…
Checkpoint: Search and Find
Looking at the market you’ve defined, how many potential clients can you spot in this picture? Not enough? Broaden the scope. Too many? Get more specific!
Step #3: Measure every decision against your brand description.
Branding is like exercising; you’ve GOT to stick to the plan. To have a successful brand each and every customer touchpoint should communicate your single brand identity – right down to the freebie pens you give away. Are you edgy or retro? We’re contemporary or classic? We’re fun or serious?
Checkpoint: Ask yourself!
Does this project or communication support my brand identity? Whatever you stand for, your logo should look it, your communications sound it and your store or website feel it.
As an example, see our client, Sweet E’s Bakeshop. With a strong brand identity, everything about the company says “fun” and “elegant.” From the mixed fonts, to the copy in the search bar, their products and the logo, to the pink polka dots on their website AND on their delivery truck! (The truck also features the same fonts used on the website. So, it’s a very cohesive look and feel.) If you are in the area, stop in and notice: Is the store fun? Are there pink polka dots on the walls? Are the people who work their fun with a splash of elegance?
So, now it’s your turn. Take out paper and a pen (or crayon!) and begin! What do you want to be when you grow up?