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What’s your brand focus?

Brand, Culture, Strategy

I recently read an article titled Stop Revising Your Logo, Start Building Your Brand  by Tony Sorrentino of OX Creative, a Chicago based firm.

In his article, I was caught by his thoughts – especially the following

“Brands that win with their audiences win on three fronts: the words they say, the visuals they show, and the experiences people have with them over time.”

He went on to talk about ‘human brands’; “…brands that act and talk and function like real people do, unafraid to make mistakes and unashamed to own them when they do.” If we have seen anything in working with our clients, especially on their social media presence it is this.  

Consumers are looking for a brand to connect with, to belong to, to speak about with pride, and that takes genuine and authentic connection with our audiences.  

In further explaining the ‘human brand’, Sorrentino goes into 5 characteristics that mark/make great brands and great people.

1. Human brands believe in the power of good questions.

2. Human brands understand the power of authenticity.

3. Human brands believe in the power of heritage.

4. Human brands rely on the power of community.

5. Human brands know the power of empathy.

I’m not one for ‘self help – 5 step’ recipes as the best answer to a problem…but with these 5 considerations, I can guarantee your brand (and all that goes with it) would be in amazing shape.

The ability not only ask questions of your audience, but listen to them…and go one step further and ‘give the people what they want’ is essential.  Nothing says ‘we’ve heard you’ like implementing suggestions for product improvement, service offerings, and expectations.  

The transparency to say ‘hey…we got that one wrong” or “whoops” (I have even seen some brands poke fun at an innocent label error) communicates ownership in your part of the business transaction with your audience. It also conveys that you’re willing to take responsibility for your product or service, making it less of a risk and all the more enticing to engage with. 

The power of story… we have seen this convey intention, motive, innovation and promise in many businesses.  When a product or service is birthed out of honest solutions seeking by people just like the customer base conveys the message that ‘we’re just like you, we know what you face, and we work hard to find solutions that make your life easier’.  Knowing that your product is used by people in your industry (and by those who created it) often speaks volumes to its quality among many other benefits.

The promise of belonging is often a stronger pull to a brand community than the product or service itself (come on…we know you’ve stood in line for the newest tech to be part of it’s community).  Simon Sinek talks about Finding your Why…and this is a big part of it…businesses today (thriving ones) build a community internally with their team that builds your business into a desirable place for new talent.  Building a community with your customers builds brand loyalty, and an increased awareness of your products or services not only with that person, but their circles of influence. 

The desire to have you engage with the brand in a real and meaningful way.  To know that a brand is conscious of and always making advancements on how easy it is to engage, and the feelings experienced as you engage only makes you want to engage more.  Everyone wants to feel like others are considering them.

Sorrentino’s last thought that caught me is the one I will leave you with in assessing your own brand. 

“These five characteristics don’t just mark great brands, they mark great people. In a way, it starts to become difficult to distinguish between the two, and that’s exactly the point.”

I don’t think as a marketer he is calling us to stop updating our visual identities, but rather to a shift in perspective in what weight that has.  Maybe you do need a brand refresh…but maybe you also need to build a human brand to support it.