Chic. Exclusive. Cheap. Trustworthy. Clever. Ordinary.
The theme of your brand could be any of these things, but not all of them at the same time.
Branding is intangible and hard to measure. It can mean something different to different customers. And some businesses don’t know what message they are sending in the first place. Or worse, they are sending mixed messages.
That’s one of the deadliest mistakes in branding because you can easily end up with conflicting messages without even knowing it.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to avoid this enormous branding mistake and how to communicate the exact message you want to send.
Name Your Brand’s Theme in 5 Words
Lego, the second most powerful brand in the world behind Disney, got in hot water when they tried to keep Chinese artist Ai Weiwei from making Lego art. The Lego brand literally stands for creativity, imagination, and innovation. The exact things art stands for. Of course, people didn’t like that!
Lego even made a movie about the “Special” saving the world from “President Business” by learning how to not follow Lego’s building directions. That’s exactly how artist make art!
Take five minutes to explain your brand’s theme in five simple words. Start with your top priority and choose four more words that illustrate your message. Let’s say I own a specialty t-shirt shop and make unique t-shirts showcasing some social or environmental issue. My main brand theme would be “woke” (the new hip word for socially aware). Then every other brand word would support my overall theme.
Say What You Mean
When asked “What keeps you up at night?”, Honor’s Margo Ellis said:
“One of the hardest things about being a new organization in a very established market is that there’s real resistance to trying something new. What I think about and probably worry about the most is how to convey the value that we bring”
It’s hard to create marketing content that makes your business stand out from the crowd when you’re not sending a clear message. Breaking into some markets is really difficult and it takes exactly the right message at exactly the right time. The wrong words can skew your brand’s image and send the wrong message to your target market.
Keeping with my faux socially conscious t-shirt business, let’s say both of the people are wearing one of my awesome “woke” t-shirts. No one would understand the actual brand message I want to send because this picture says romance, sex, and love. All fine brand themes, except this would be a bad choice for the brand I’m trying to build.
Be clear in everything you say and all the visuals you use. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, make sure that picture says exactly what you mean. It’s hard to grab your target market’s attention in the first place. Craft all your content to reflect your brand’s theme every time or risk sending the wrong message.
Keep It Consistent
Branding is one of the most elusive aspects of your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur or the CEO of a global corporation – you are your brand.
If your fun and flirty on Instagram, share socially conscious videos, and fight politics on Twitter, then you’re sending mixed brand signals. Know your brand’s theme and stay consistent throughout your entire online platform.
Because you want consumers to instantly know what your brand stands for and not click past you because they just don’t get it.