What is a brand, and importantly, why should you care?
Now, we’re not talking about brand names here, we’re talking about the brand itself. In short, a brand is the emotional response you have when you see something related to a company, person, website, or other entity. It’s the feeling you get when you see a favorite company’s logo. Or when you get a ping that one of your favorite personalities on social media has a new post.
A brand is the overall impression someone in the general public has of you, your company, or what you do.
It’s a combination of concrete things—like your logo and your company slogan—mixed with the less tangible things like how they feel when they see that logo, memories from childhood, and the emotions that come up when interacting with you. That’s a lot of stuff going into that brand, right? Let's take a closer look at what makes a good brand, and why building your brand matters.
Attention spans, SEO, and your brand focus
Humans have short attention spans. Like, seriously short. That means if you don’t make your branding memorable, well, nobody will remember it! Keep it simple, keep it classy, and make it catchy.
The rule of 7
From the marketing world, we get this rule that says a person has to see your brand 7 times before they internalize it. That means that there are people out there who know your brand, even though they don’t know what you actually do.
Take advantage of that.
You can use this fact to embed your branding in people’s brains, to make your company stand out in your field, and to make your brand the one folks remember when it comes time to engage.
Start by making your logo memorable. And make it relevant to what you do. Think about your favorite companies. Now think about their logos. How many of them are directly relevant to the industry or product the company makes? We’d wager the majority of them.
If your company has a slogan, use it in your logo. Now there are words associated with the visual form of your logo, making it that much more likely people will remember not only what your brand looks like, but what it does.
For strong SEO, brand matters
Google’s algorithms now take into account something called “brand gravity.” This is the combined pull of people searching for your name, your brand’s name, AND content keywords you’ve optimized your content for.
That means the stronger you embed your brand in your audience’s minds, the more likely they are to remember when they go to Google for solutions. And every time they search your company name, or slogan, together with the keywords—that’s right, they get your site and your content. And the more that happens, the more likely it is to continue happening until you’re at the top of the results page.
Try changing your brand marketing focus
If your marketing is all about the numbers—to the detriment of your brand—think about shifting your focus. You can harness extra marketing mojo by focusing your marketing content on your brand’s unique voice (more details on voice in 3 paragraphs), pulling in the folks who know and identify with your brand.
Try the “no logo test.” This is where you print out content from your site and that of a competitor, removing any branding or logos, then put them side-by-side in front of someone. If the person can’t identify your content, it doesn’t fully embrace your brand.
Speaking of content
Your content should be created in the voice of your brand. That means website content, social media posts, and blog posts alike should be easily identifiable to the public as having been created by your company. This content needs to be informative, while keeping in mind your target audience and how they’re likely to react. Make it too formal or stuffy and you’ll lose the millennials, for example.
The three V’s: Voice, Values, Vision
Voice: Your content should have a unified sound to it. Your blog posts should flow like your Facebook updates and like your Tweets. If your content isn’t consistent with how people are seeing your brand elsewhere, they’ll lose trust in what you’re presenting because it will seem inauthentic.
Values: Your brand should also encompass your company’s values. This authenticity breeds trust in your audience. Your product has a finite lifespan, your brand and the values it represents are timeless.
Vision: Employees who believe their company’s vision matches their own are happy employees. And happy employees are better positioned to be brand ambassadors when they’re not at work.
There’s an old maxim, “Know Thyself,” that applies to this discussion. If your company doesn’t have a strong sense of it’s brand (in the form of it’s voice, values, and vision) there’s work to be done. How to find out if that’s the case? Easy. Ask your employees. If they can’t identify it, chances are the public won’t be able to, either.
Learn from other areas of marketing
Specifically one called Recruitment Marketing. This is a sub-field that focuses on attracting passive job seekers to a company before they are even ready to look for a new job.
Recruitment marketers do this by focusing on their Employer Brand. This is essentially what we’ve been talking about here, but just focused on working for the company rather than buying it’s products.
The marketer focuses on the emotion evoked when the job seeker thinks about the employer. These marketers are using a consistent voice, across platforms, to convey the values and vision of their company. Then, when the audience realizes that it’s time to look for a new place to work, they remember the unique content created by the recruitment marketers and they go straight to that employer’s careers page to start searching.
Let this idea translate to your company brand. Use your unique voice—across platforms like your blog and social media—to convey your brand to the world of potential customers out there. Provide them with interesting, useful content that helps solve a problem they’re having, in your brand voice. Then, when they realize they need more help with that problem, who do you think they’re going to come to? That’s right. The first brand that comes to mind will be yours.
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