All good marketing makes a promise.
It doesn’t need to be complex. In fact, it shouldn’t. It should be easy to understand, not just for you, but for your audience too. Leave behind the big words and the industry jargon. Make it a conversation that invites your audience to discover what you have to offer.
And make sure your promise matters, but just not to everyone. Only the few you can help the most. The ones whom you can make the biggest impact for. What do those people want? That’s who your promise should be addressed to. Because when you narrow it down to the ones who benefit the most, your message suddenly becomes a lot better. Why? Because to them, it’s exactly what they’re looking for.
And to everyone else? Well, it was never for them to begin with.
When we’re stuck, we often start by looking for answers and solutions, not asking questions. Yet, it's by asking questions that we’re able to get closer to the heart of the problem.
This temptation is the same when positioning our brand. Often picking the best pieces from our competitors and combining them into what hopefully becomes something much better. But this never works, because what we’re left with is a brand that’s figured out the surface but has little substance to back it up.
For substance, we need questions:
What type of product or service does your brand offer? Who’s the audience that would buy what you have to offer? What are your brand’s values and aspirations? What type of environment will your brand be marketed in? What other brands are competing within this market?
The list goes on…
Those questions might not leave us with a definite answer, but they will leave us with a better understanding of the problem. And it’s from that understanding our brand truly begins to take shape.
Why do you need a new logo?
Will it help you generate more leads? Allow you to make better products? Serve your audience better? Will it get you closer to your goal? Better yet, could you do those things without a new logo?
The design of new things is always exciting as we watch them take shape, but unless we’ve done the thinking beforehand, those designs have little hope of making any real impact.
It used to be that simply having a tool was enough to hold a competitive advantage, but now small businesses and startups can use the same tools as industry leaders.
Yet it’s not the tools that set them apart—many try and still lack results—it’s how they use them. Specifically, how they use them to serve their audience.
Almost anyone can use a tool, but understanding how that tool can be used to help the people who stand to benefit from what we have to offer is where we stand to gain the most. Us and our audience.
It’s not how you say it, it’s what you have to say. Because no matter how you say it, if what you have to say isn’t interesting, nobody will stop to listen.
A lot like branding; if the story you’re telling isn’t interesting, no matter how beautiful the design is, nobody will stick around to discover the value you offer.
Our audience doesn’t want to be convinced; they want to be understood.
And to be understood, we need to meet them where they are, not where we are.
Maybe that’s done with a phone call or text. Maybe it’s an email or survey. Or perhaps it really is getting in our car and travelling to meet them. Whichever it is, it involves a lot more listening than it does talking.
Because when we listen, we gain understanding. Understanding that uncovers their needs and shines a light on the issues they’re trying to solve.
Done right, we’re awarded with a perspective that shows us how to make the biggest impact.
A logo, website, brand—you name it—they’re all just tools. And when everyone has access to the same ones, simply having a tool isn’t much of an advantage.
The new advantage lies in our ability to understand why we use them.
Without taking the time to understand the why, the tool has little purpose.
A brand unites an audience through its values.
A set of values that both you and your audience hold and see to be true.
Brands need to wear those values like a badge of honour to attract the audience they wish to reach. Products, services, logo, colours, typography, copy… every touchpoint is an opportunity to share those values with your audience.
Those values won’t be shared by everyone, but they’ll certainly be shared by someone. And it’s when you find that someone that the magic happens. Because pretty soon they find and tell someone else, turning your audience of one into one of many.
What comes to mind when you think of Rolex? For me, I immediately thought of “luxury”. Which is odd, isn’t it? It’s just a watch. Something used to tell time. No more luxury than a clock on the wall or the one on my phone. But the same thing happens when I think of Patek Philippe or Jaeger-Le Coutre.
It's because we intuitively realize that brands take on meanings larger than the products they sell. Quality, craftsmanship, exclusivity, luxury… brands grow to represent values that both the company and audience hold to be true.
Odds are we won't be as big or as old as most brands, but that shouldn't mean we stop trying to create smaller or more local versions that captivate people in a similar way.
If it’s not of value to our ideal customer, then it shouldn’t be of value to us. It’s obvious and something we’ve figured out long ago, yet we tend to forget when it comes to design.
We stop asking questions and start making decisions based on our personal values rather than the values of our customers. Justifying our decisions by arguing we know our business better than anyone else. Why? Because value is hard to measure, making it easier to base decisions on our own likes and dislikes instead of a seemingly intangible metric.
But that's a mistake. When we measure design with our own likes and dislikes, we're no longer building for our audience but for ourselves. Instead, we should ask, who’s it for? Who’s it for, frames the problem we’re trying to solve. It gives us perspective and an easy metric to measure against. Decisions are no longer based on our feelings but the goals of our audience.
When we know the goals of our audience, we're able to create value in ways we previously couldn't. And when that happens, we discover two things: