Your brand is simply the emotional associations and gut level "sense" of how your company, product, or service is intuitively perceived by your market.
So how do you actually work with this -- use this -- in the real world to help shape the way your staff, your customers and your market see your company?
The easiest way to make branding real is to determine what we call your top three "brand emotions." Your brand emotions are the easiest way for you to bring the concept of your "brand" down to the world of actionable implementation.
For your business, what are the three core emotions that you want your market to experience after every interaction they have with your business? We call these three core emotions your "brand emotions."
Here are a few examples of various well-known companies and their brand emotions.
1. Sheer pleasure ("It is a joy to handle and touch these devices.")
2. Cool. ("When I own and pull out my iPhone, I feel cool and hip.")
3. Smooth and easy. ("They just work and are so intuitive to use.")
1. Well served. ("They really do take care of my needs.")
2. Great value. ("I know I got a great deal.")
3. Fun. ("Interacting with Virgin is fun.")
Your turn now: What are the top three brand emotions that you want your market to experience after every interaction with you?
Once you have your brand emotions clarified you can leverage the way people make meaning out of the world by taking a small sampling of experience and generalizing outward (the fancy name for this is "inductive reasoning".)
Understanding that people take symbolic slivers of their experience and inductively expand what they mean by generalizing outward, you can intentionally design your market's interactions with your business to increase the odds that they'll feel your brand emotions.
Brainstorm how could your company design into your customer experience the pieces needed to increase the odds that your customer feels your brand emotions.
For example, my co-author on SCALE, Jeff Hoffman, was one of the co-founders of Priceline.com. One major initiative they experimented with was "pricelineyardsale." Early on in this project, Jeff and his development team realized that they wanted their customers to get as close as possible to the excitement of winning the lottery or a big roll of the dice in Las Vegas. Knowing that one of their key brand emotions was "excitement" (as in, "I won!"), they intentionally made subtle shifts in how their site worked. For example, they didn't say, "thank you for your purchase" (yawn); instead they said, "Congratulations! You won the item you bid on!" And rather than just have a mundane image pop up while a visitor's bid was processed, they intentionally showed a slot machine with numbers spinning on the three dials, landing on 7-7-7 when the response came back that his bid was accepted.
These subtle design elements made a big impact on their customers tell-a-friend viral marketing ratio, and helped them firmly establish this key element of their brand.
In my business coaching company (Maui Mastermind) we redesigned our core coaching platform to help reinforce one of our most important brand emotions -- "confidence." That redesign included building a simple accountability structure into our coaching app. The owner visually knows when her team is meeting deliverables or not and the app delivers weekly progress reports from everyone on her team. Clients can now also actually see the progress they are making on a quarter-by-quarter basis relative to their strategic action plan and the other key metrics inside their company. The end result was an upgraded ability to have its clients have the confidence (brand emotion) of knowing they are one the right road to reaching their business goals.
So again I want to challenge you to lay out your top three brand emotions. Then one at a time brainstorm with your key team the things you could do -- big or small -- that would reinforce your brand emotions. Then pick 3-5 of the best ideas from your list to implement in your business.
You now have a concrete model for how to actually apply branding to help you grow your business.
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