Since the beginning of time brands have crafted their images to be perceived in a certain way. A motorbike company might want to look rebellious and dangerous and a porcelain dishes should be displayed as gracious and expensive looking. Establishing a certain brand image is a complex and tedious task, but how a brand can reach a certain image and get familiarized with certain characteristics?
Levis have managed to stay relevant (adapting along the time) with its quality clothing. Even though customer segment has changed, the brand is recognized for the same quality product.
Old Spice seemed to fade out but with a help of W+K they got back on track from an only-my-grandpa-would-use brand to a new, modern and brave look. It transformed from not that convincing to a comedy show, but hit the right spot and continues their way.
I took these examples as they have managed to keep a certain image and have reached a global recognition. So what’s the secret of any brand to craft a perception around them in a successful manner? In this post, I will look at the communication side of branding.
What influences our decision making the most?
Firstly I want to look at the holistic view of couple of methods that can successfully move communication of a brand into certain directions:
- Visuals (shape our decision on previous experience, thus our decisions are shaped unconsciously).
- Relevance – regardless of the brands change you have to appeal to someone with your brand. Lately, I’ve seen too many old, well-established companies trying to be like a dad trying to be cool at a kids party and that is just not working out.
- Group think and social proof – the beauty and a curse of crowd decision-making.
- Authority and scarcity.
- Great narratives: must be about the target audience, not the brand.
There are plenty more example of how you could persuade your target audience to look into what your company has to say, but let me give you a list of actionable methods that you should implement in your branding communication strategy.
What can you do, without a million dollar branding budget?
Grand branding strategies will require a huge budget, therefore I collected tips that can help you effectively shape your customer perception of your brand. Regardless of your knowledge of the latest social media, the communication, and storytelling tools I strongly advise everyone to look at the very basic methods and see if you have done the foundation right. I will include some simple yet ridiculously useful methods that you should align with your branding strategy.
I will start out with the visual communication, as the most important matter. There are no excuses of bad visuals. Spend the time to create a beautiful and well thought through design and unify it at all platforms your brand appears.
The only excuse you could have is the problem to keep the design consistent, but lucky you, there are a couple of methods to help with that as well.
- Establish brand guidelines: Standardize your color scheme, use uniform typography.
- Re-purpose your content.
- Use Templafy to have control and consistency over all your material.
- Avoid overextending. Keep your brand name for a certain product niche.
- Think of the overall visual communication in three steps: repetition – penetration – impact.
Create a credible message, identify ambassadors, identify channels
When your design is in place your message is the next most important step. Create a message in the language of your customers that will be interesting, engaging and for the 21st century – sharable. Looking at the message think of storytelling. Go back to basics of a drama structure and see how your message adds up.
Old Spice brilliantly used drama by saying that “Your man doesn’t look like him” (Isaiah Mustafa), which creates a conflict and then is resolved with saying that at least your man can smell like him.
- Ambassadors would be the relevant people that your target audience would listen to. Think of who could that be?
- Try out SocialRank to view the most engaged followers on your Twitter and Instagram account.
- Look at all the possible channels to find the most recognized individuals that could help to lift your brand. For example if you sell products for hair, find who are the most popular users on social media accounts talking about beauty products and sponsor their next show to promote your product. View an example of a YouTuber promoting Morris Motley hair wax.
- Is there anyone from your company that could be the brand’s ambassador?
- Channels – where will you get your message out. Assuming that you have a knowledge of your target audience and your brand ambassadors preferred channels it shouldn’t be difficult to promote your brand through the channels.
Ensure a dialogue between your brand and target audience
When you have figured out what to say and how to say it, you should make sure that the message delivered will be a message received – as intended. Here I would like to point out another very simple visualization that is vital to make it work.
You might have seen this model from the communication books. It showcases the simple structure of information flowing from person A to person B. The tricky part comes in when we have to decode the message received and encode it back. We all have subjective opinions about everything, therefore we have to be sure that the message we want to communicate is clear and understandable for the receiver.
A healthy reminder is to follow up with what is happening in the market before spreading your exciting news, to avoid unnecessary conflict. By conveying a message that you have no research about, you could get in trouble, and here’s a painful reminder from DiGiorno.
I will highlight the importance of brandings number one lesson – communication – under a quote from a research paper about emotion and perception:
“The coupling of affect and perception in this way thus allows affective information to have immediate and automatic effects without deliberation on the meaning of emotionally evocative stimuli or the consequences of potential actions.”
This paper argues that visual perception and emotions are closely related domains and when we clearly and consistently communicate with our pictures, sound or copy it will greatly help an individual to comprehend your message as intended and will minimize the subjective decision-making.
Bottom line: allow the user to follow an easy and comprehensible pattern of your brand.
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