If your brand were a fictional character, what personality traits would he or she display?
When you hire new staffers for your organization, you need to get to know these people. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses, how they work with your other team members and, of course, how they’re going to work for you.
You wouldn’t bring a single individual on to your team without knowing him or her first — yet many entrepreneurs and marketers never take the effort to get to know their respective organizations, their brands, as a whole.
Sure, you might know what your logo looks like or what kind of organization you’re trying to be, but how well do you really know your brand?
Why it matters
Your brand exists as the sun that rules the solar system of your business development. All your marketing efforts will be grounded by this underlying foundation of identity. Your HR and hiring will depend on your brand for guidance.
Even your business’ future development will rely on the mission and vision set by your brand standards. If you’re unfamiliar with these identifiers, or you never established them in the first place, you’ll be unable to carry out these responsibilities effectively.
1. Know your audience.
Everything starts with knowing your audience, as your audience is who will represent value to your brand. If you don’t know who these people are, or how to build a strategy that caters to them, your efforts will be for naught.
As the progenitors and supporters of your brand, your audience members should directly inform what your brand is and how it operates. For example, is your target audience young and brash? Your brand should be similarly bold to appeal to them. Is your target audience older and seeking security? Your brand should project expertise and reassurance.
Rely on your market research, which you can execute through primary tactics like surveys or secondary sources, like the Census bureau.
Related Book: The Brand Mapping Strategy by Karen Tiber Leland
2. Know your competition.
You also need to know your competition better to further develop your brand. Your audience functions as a direct input; you need to build a brand that caters to them. But your competition will function as a molder or shaper; the key here is to realize how your competitors have developed their respective brands, and find a way to both draw inspiration from them and differentiate yourself.
Your brand must be unique in the market, or you won’t be able to stand out. At the same time, it needs to accurately represent and fit within your industry.
3. Know yourself.
If you’re the entrepreneur, marketing director, or decision maker for the brand, you also need to know yourself a bit. Not only will you have the opportunity to develop your own personal brand as an extension of the company’s, you’ll also want to have pieces of your own personality melded into the brand. This can help your brand seem more personal and dynamic, not to mention more authentic.
4. Know your mission and vision.
Your mission and vision statements should also come from and inform your brand as a whole; your mission is a statement about why your business exists (what are you trying to accomplish?), while your vision is a more specific outline of how you see your organization developing (where will you be in the next five years?).
Knowing these fundamentals can help you better position your marketing strategies and messaging.
5. Know your culture.
You need some fundamental understanding of the company culture you’re trying to create. Your brand is an important marker of identity for external audiences — that is, your target customers — but it’s also important for your own team members.
What kind of working environment are you trying to create? How are you making people feel comfortable? How do your people interact with one another?
It’s hard to define these qualities in a vacuum, or on paper when you’re forcing the strategy. Instead, you may find it helpful to engage in these exercises to better acquaint yourself with your own brand:
- Characterization. First, imagine your brand as a fictional character, as it’s easier to assign personality traits to a person than a business entity. What is this person like? How does he or she behave? It’s also helpful to create a persona for your average target customer as a counterbalance.
- Differentiation. Next, work on isolating the variables that make you unique from your competition. Think of a simple message, and consider how your brand would communicate this message differently than any other brand out there.
- Cultural touchstones. You can also create cultural “touchstones” or features and creations that concisely summarize what your brand represents. For example, having a bounce house in front of your office would make a bold statement that you value having fun.
Once you prioritize your business’s brand and immerse yourself in those signature qualities, you’ll do a much better job executing the basic responsibilities that will lead your organization to success.
Not only that, you’ll be a more integrated individual within the context of your overall company culture, lending your own work, values and actions to a consistent, cumulative whole that makes everything more significant and more effective over time.