Cracking The Brand Code

Many people try to build successful brands, and few succeed. But don’t despair. It’s do-able. All it takes is some serious hard work and answering some truly tough questions:

Who’s your target audience?

Attaining a sound understanding of your audience, is, without question one of the most important time investments you can make.

Talk to friends, family, even strangers at parties. Ask them how they feel about your product’s category, and your competitors. What they like and what they don’t. You never know what insights you may glean from a casual conversation.

Start by writing a list of the general characteristics of your typical customer. Where do they live? What kinds of jobs do they have? How old are they? How much do they earn? Do they have children?

Once you define their broad character-traits, go deeper. What do they believe in? What matters to them? Is it a sense of achievement or do they want to feel independent?

So, you’re starting to figure your typical customer out and you probably have a picture of them in your head. Now, this is probably going to sound a little silly, but give them a name.

If you have multiple audiences, create a profile for each market segment, and name each one. Write a story about their typical day: what time they wake up, their preferred social media mix, what route they take to work, what car they drive, their deepest beliefs and convictions. Figure out how they feel about everything, from global warming to advertising.

Here’s a thought: If you think SUV manufacturers are just selling a family car, they’re not, they’re selling family values. Find out what matters to your market.

Congratulations. You have just entered the mythical space that exists in the minds of your customers. When you write, imagine you’re having a conversation with the person you have just created.

When deciding on a logo style, ask yourself what kinds of logos a person like that finds tasteful and which ones turn them off.  Now you’re ready to create brands that resonate with your customers. Not just yourself.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Successful brands solve problems. Identify an issue your potential customers face. Then solve it for them. If you do this, your customers will love you for it and reward you with their loyalty.

What’s your USP?

USP, as you probably know, stands for Unique Selling Proposition. If there’s something completely unique about your company, show it off. It will make you stand out. (just make sure it’s something positive)

Ask yourself: if the client could only remember 1 thing about your brand, what would you want it to be?

As a brilliant ad-school lecturer of mine used to say: you start off with a lovely shade of powder-blue. Then you throw in one of your favourite orange-reds. Next you decide it needs a little electric-green. And in the end you’re left with a hideous brown.

Message works much the same. Identify what you want to say and stick to it. Don’t muddy the waters by trying to combine disparate messages. It just doesn’t work.

Translate features into benefits

Features alone are inert data. You may think the benefits that follow features go without saying. But it’s worth your while to complete the argument. An oven with a built-in fan is just an oven with a fan in it.

That’s until you explain that the fan allows you use all the oven trays at once without the flavours of the foods intermingling.

Therefore the benefit of the oven’s fan is that your fluffy and oh-so-subtle pavlova won’t take on the taste of the gammon-garlic roast on the bottom tray.

The benefit is why the feature matters to the customer.

What aesthetic fits your message?

You are now ready to move from the ideation and cogitation phases, to execution. It’s imperative that the look-and-feel lines up with your insights.

There’s no point going with a dark-and-moody tone if your audience is anything but. If your market is funky and young, look vibrant and youthful.

Great brands are greater than the sum of their parts. That’s because every disparate element. No matter how seemingly small is singing the same tune.

When a brand is seamlessly aligned, when image and message are in harmony with themselves and each-other, when you turn features into compelling benefits, and aesthetic perfectly encapsulates it all.

That’s the exact moment a powerful new brand is born.

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