My Five Brand Rules
Branding: There’s thousands of opinions, ideas and strategies for defining what branding is, how to do it successfully, why your business needs it and how we can create, evolve, adapt and grow our brands. Over a series of articles I will share some of the most successful approaches I have applied to branding projects over the last 10 years, and the strategies, tips, ideas and exercises you can use to to create, define and grow your brand.
To start, I’m going to share My 5 Brand Rules - these rules act as a mini manifesto. They help to keep a brand focused, to tell and share your unique story.
Your brand is your point of difference, it is your why, your how and your what. It’s your story. It’s not just a visual thing, it’s an experience, emotion or mission that you expresses to your audience. It’s a set of values which sets you apart from your competitors and defines why you exist. It’s these values which will connect with your customers and ultimately, turn them into loyal fans. A brand is a reflection of these values and actions and how you wish for people to perceive them. It is not a logo. It is your story.
My Five Brand Rules
1. Don’t Be For Everyone
2. Be Authentic
3. Be Relatable
4. Be Consistent
5. Be Disruptive
Don’t Be For Everyone
Even the world’s biggest brands appeal to niche audiences, or at least started off that way. Your brand will be stronger, and more successful if you focus on finding your niche and appealing and connecting with them. Brand loyalty is hard to win but, if you can build a community of niche fans, you will gain it much quicker than if you start out trying to appeal to everyone and anyone.
It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t waste your time trying.
Your brand story needs to be real, you need to be telling your brand truth: branding is about creating trust and loyalty, no one likes to be misled. We create brand narratives to differentiate from our competitors, in doing so we may embellish certain things, but you should never lie, be false or be fake. If your brand story or your values aren’t a true reflection of how you do business or the quality of your products and services, your customers will soon see past the spin, disengage with you and even worse, distrust you.
Rule No 3 comes back to the brand story again (that’s why it’s so important to have one). Make sure your brand relates to the people you’re targeting, your niche. People connect with brands that evoke an emotional response from them that’s why as consumers we like to associate ourselves with certain brands, because we feel that those brand’s values reflect ours. So this means that your brand’s values, story and tone of voice should all relate to your customers emotional values too.
When we talk about consistency it’s about delivering your values, story, services and products consistently. It’s about gaining your customer’s trust and keeping your brand promise. Customers expect a brand to act a certain way when they interact with it and it’s up to you to ensure you constantly and consistently match these expectations.
It’s all about the long game when it comes to brand recognition, people will identity with your brand, understand what it is you do well and ultimately trust you to continually and consistently deliver.
This is my absolute number one rule when it comes to branding.
Why? Because really, you can do the other 4 things perfectly well and have a good, solid brand… but without being disruptive, you’ll never have a truly great brand.
When I hear people saying “we want to be like Apple, we want to look like Airbnb”, I ask WHY? Why do you want to look and sound like someone else? Great brands are the ones that are brave, they want to be unique and stand out, they want to be themselves. By doing this they create a platform from which they can define, challenge and reinvent the markets they’re in.
A successful brand is one that delivers something different, going against the status-quo and what’s expected of their sector. This disruptive approach is how branding should be done and how you get true brand recognition, loyalty and fans.