What is a brand?
A brand is about perception and differentiation. A brand makes you feel something. Pepsi drinkers hate Coke. Apple users think they’re more creative than Windows users. People identify with brands.
McDonald’s doesn’t make the best hamburgers, but they will taste and look the same anywhere in the world. You’ll get a warm, decent, cheap burger served fast.
When I order a latte at Starbucks, I get the exact same ounces of espresso all the time. It doesn’t matter which barista is working that day. The drink I ordered in San Francisco was exactly the same as the one I ordered in Bangkok.
A brand is a promise; an expectation.
A brand has a STORY.
A brand has a history, how it’s evolved. Brands that have a history have credibility.
A brand stirs EMOTIONS.
What comes to mind when you think of some popular brands? Volvo stands for safety. Disney feels magical. If you ride a Harley Davidson you’re a bad-ass.
We use logic to justify emotions.
If you ask a woman why she paid $2,000 for a Louis Vuitton handbag she might tell you that they are beautifully constructed and will last a long time. She probably knows that she could have purchased 20 handbags for that price, but the real reason she shelled out that much cash is because it made her feel good about herself.
A man who buys a Rolex tends to make the purchase around a milestone in his career. A promotion, a raise, a new job, a big sale. It makes him feel successful. He justifies it by pointing out the remarkable accuracy and craftsmanship.
We do irrational things because we feel emotionally compelled to do them.
Brands shape our IDENTITY.
Brands make us feel like we’re part of a group we identify with. They make us feel smart, rich, beautiful, trendy, savvy, creative, eco conscious, elite, accessible, strong, healthy or comforted.
Brands have a PERSONA.
Because most brands represent companies, they try to emulate human personality traits so we can relate to them.
What’s YOUR brand?
You already are a brand. How do others perceive you? What do your colleagues think of you? How would your friends and family describe you? Everything you do or say reflects your brand.
When you’re building your brand online, it’s so important to let your personality shine through. It’s very likely that there are tons of other people out there doing what you’re doing. That shouldn’t stop you from doing, though. Why would someone listen to you instead of anyone else in your field? Because you’re you! You have a different way of explaining things and a unique perspective.
If you go to an art class and watch students draw an object or person, you’ll notice no two drawings will look exactly alike. They’re drawing the same thing, but each student brings their own skills, talents, perspective and creative expression to the project.
Your life experience, your victories, struggles and values will influence the outcome your work and set you apart.
Be authentic, let your personality shine through. No one wants to read a text book. They make us read them in school, but they never make it to the best seller’s list. They’re informative, but BORING.
You may alienate some people with your personality. But that’s OK. That’s the sign of a strong brand.
Abraham Lincoln used to say, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
If you’re going to build a successful brand with loyal fans and customers, just focus on pleasing some of the people all of the time. By the way, It isn’t lost on me that Lincoln was assassinated, so he lived and died by this rule, but he did win the election.
What are some traits that differentiate you from others? How would you describe your personality or brand?
You can convey your brand persona through visual elements like a logo, colors and fonts. Up next, “Be Remembered, Be Remarkable: How to create a professional logo for under $100.”