Your brand is your reputation. It’s not your logo, your website or the shade of purple you use. It contains those things, but it is far deeper and far more important. In order to create a brand you love, you need to achieve total brand alignment.
What is brand alignment?
What brand alignment really means is your customers understand the claims your brand is making, and they believe you’re making good on those claims.
Brand alignment is the foundation of trust and brand authenticity.
You create an authentic brand by understanding yourself and what your business offers at the deepest level. You maintain its integrity by ensuring your actions align with what you are offering.
The easiest way to do that is to be genuine. Look, we all understand the hustle and the need to sell. But you need to stay inside of the boundaries of who you really are when making promises about what you do.
By the same token, as I’ve said many times before, this is the surest way to foster meaningful and lasting relationships with your clients, in a consumer world that is savvier and more discerning than ever.
Listen, your people can tell if a brand’s message is authentic or not – including yours! It’s not just about this generic and sometimes hollow word “trust”. Can your audience really identify with you?
The bottom line: When you create real relationships and are so authentic that your audience can identify with you, that’s brand alignment.
Signs of a misaligned brand.
Right now you might be thinking, “oh shite. I don’t think have this brand alignment you speak of!” Don’t worry. Here’s how you can evaluate how your brand stacks up to being aligned:
There is confusion amongst your customers
Gulp. People need near-instant clarity and resonance online. Buyers who haven’t worked with you before rely on your online content to get to understand who you are and what you stand for.
If you are not delivering clear and consistent messages about your business and what you offer, you aren’t going to instill confidence in your brand. People don’t stick around long on the interwebs, girlfriend. Be clear. Be clear. Be clear.
YOU aren’t clear on your business
You, your staff or your audience describe your services differently or can’t describe them at all. If you stumble, take too long or can’t find the right words to describe your purpose (promise) and the effect it is intended to have, there is a lack of clarity.
No unique value identified
You can’t identify what makes your offering or products different or unique than everyone else’s. This can often be key information that will entice people. If left out, they may move on to someone who is clear on theirs.
Lack of consistency
People don’t recognize you/your communication immediately as ‘you’. This ties into voice and visual consistency.
How to create a brand you love.
Sounds trite, but consistency in guidelines is power to your brand. This includes your logo, typeface, colours, voice, tone, key messages and values…but it’s also more. It goes way deeper.
When a brand’s communication is inconsistent, its customers can’t tell if it’s authentic or not. Inconsistency denotes carelessness and unprofessionalism and plants a powerful seed of doubt in the minds of audiences.
If you are throwing spaghetti at the wall, people can tell. Decide on the core promise of your brand and use that to inform communication on a multitude of social channels.
Remember that the brand promise defines the purpose of your work and the effect you intend to have on the world around you. If consumers know a brand promise is empty, they’ll just scoff at the disconnect between the message you gave them and their actual experience as a customer.
Here are some examples of awesome brand promises that are both clever and honest:
BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine.
Instagram: Capture and share the world’s moments.
Apple: Think different.
Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
Fed Ex: Piece of mind.
These brand promises work because they evoke a sense of emotional connection to the company, they are relevant to the service they provide AND the company makes good on that promise.
How to create your own brand promise.
Marketing secret: It sounds fancier than it really is. If your brand promise is really about being genuine, it shouldn’t take too long to land on one that feels right. Here’s how to start:
- Focus on emotional resonance and the effect your work will have. Meaning is of pivotal importance.
- Stick to platforms that are relevant – where do your people live online? If you’re on multiple platforms, it’s hard to keep up with differing communication requirements and styles as you frantically try to find a message that resonates.
- Continue to think of all your communications, platforms and touchpoints as AN EXPERIENCE for your client. Know your customer’s journey, understand how your social channels work, be transparent and honest, make it easy for people to engage and to convert, be yourself and don’t hesitate to bring personal story and vulnerability into the fold.
- Perhaps my favourite piece of advice for this topic is to watch for and avoid integrity gaps. What you think should be what you say which should be backed by what you do. THINK- SAY – DO.
This is why I stay away from written missions and values – people shouldn’t read those things, and they sure as heck don’t want to. (Like, EVER.) But they should experience them.
In order to stay within integrity focus on what you DO to keep the brand promise of what you say. Be sure the brand promise is something you truly believe in or your insincerity will be as see-through as saran wrap.
Your intention is everything.
At the end of the day, if you really want to create a brand you love, it’s not about fancy colour boards or 5-figure marketing budgets. Those are nice. But they mean nuttin’ if your business is caught in a lie or otherwise unethical.
You need to remember that genuine intention and clarity are really what conscious consumers care most about. The self-development space is loaded with frills and gimmicks. Give your people – and yourself – the gift of integrity. You won’t regret it.
Do you struggle with marketing? Take my Energetic Marketing Type Quiz to find out your marketing type and learn what you can do to make your marketing easier and more effective.