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Brand Communication Is Brand Experience

April 15, 2019

Brand Communication Is Brand EsperienceEverybody knows by now that it’s not what your market thinks of your brand that counts. Your customer could spell out, in bullet points, everything that’s wonderful about your product. That doesn’t mean you’ll make the sale. Decisions are made by the lizard brain – in the limbic system. That’s what governs emotion. We know now that what matters is how a market feels about a brand. And that is determined by how the brand is experienced. So how does your market experience your brand? Do customers come into a retail environment? Do your clients lunch in your office? Is your trade show booth the place where you interact with your primary buyers? These are all experiential events wherein the people who matter most to the success of your brand actually get to rub shoulders with it. Promotional and advertising campaigns also give your market a taste of your brand. But, for most small and middle-market businesses, there is no retail environment, no hosting clients at lunch, no trade shows. There aren’t ever any promotional events. There’s no budget to do any real advertising. How then can the brand ever be experienced?

It’s all in how you communicate with your market. It’s not just a matter of giving your clients or customers the information they need to make smart buying decisions. It’s the manner in which you impart that information. Most buyer personas are thoroughly researched and codified. Businesses know what makes their customers tick. Once identified, the business has to meet its buyers where they live. It has to match up to their markets’ values. (If you can’t do this, you’re in the wrong business.) Markets have to see businesses as belonging in their lives. That’s the prerequisite for even beginning to market to them. 

If you’re in a B2B market, assemble the logos of all the companies who purchase from you. Put them all on one screen. Now add your logo. Does it belong in that group? Is it of the same quality in design? Legibility? Meaning? Does it stand out – but in a bad way? Odds are your potential clients see this too. They won’t let you in their world if they think you don’t belong. Run a parallel exercise comparing websites. Does your site seem up to running with the big dogs? If not, time to upgrade that site.

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Visual communication is paramount. Purchasers use that information to let you in – or screen you out – of their lives. Once you’re in, you have to talk to them. You have to learn about their problems. Describe the solutions you can deliver. But, again, it’s not just the words you use. It’s the way you use them. The language you use, the tone of voice, will differ if you’re selling to skateboarders or to boards of directors. 

It’s those visuals, that vocabulary and that tone of voice that your market experiences. This is how they “feel” you. This is how they determine if they have confidence in you and whether or not to buy from you.

Every business has to communicate with its market on some level. It has its website. It has its visual identity. It may have sales representatives talking to clients on the phone. A brand strategy should provide directions for creating the kind of experience the business wants its customers to have through those interactions. Most businesses never create brand experiences like trade show booths or promotional events. In those cases, the only experience of the brand comes through its brand communication. Best to put some thought into it. Speak to the human brain and the lizard brain.

Best Branding Reads – Week of April 15, 2019

Tiger Woods Got 3 Words of Advice From His Caddie During the Masters--and They Were Absolute Genius
We should all have a caddy this good.

Gen Z Doesn’t Want To Buy Your Brand, They Want To Join It.
Will they let your product into their lives? What should you change so that they will?

Del Taco will sell Beyond Meat tacos starting this month
his is a major shift for their brand. Getting out ahead of the competition is risky.

Every Brand Purpose Must Be Defended
Still troubled by the conflation of Cause and Purpose. But the author’s point is well taken.

New Logo for Ontario
Three men in a hot tub. Hilarious. New logo is much better.

New Logo and Identity for Pete Buttigieg
One of the better campaign identities I’ve ever seen.

In the battle for mobile engagement, branded apps hold untapped value
For larger companies, branded apps make so much more sense than television advertising.

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Volkswagen unveils new branding as part of company-wide reboot
VW, still reeling from its breach of market trust, has to retool in the face of a disrupting auto industry.

Is the Automotive Industry Ready for Sonic Brand Expression?
Can you hear it coming? More disruption in the auto industry.

Building Brands On Customer Passions
This story of the kid who loved University of Tennessee makes you believe in humanity’s decency. It also is a textbook example of how markets shape brands.

Brand Equity: A Strategic Pillar for Competitive Advantage in Luxury Markets
Article shows how and why markets are attracted to brands perceived as authentic.

A Study of 597 Logos Shows Which Kind Is Most Effective
Spoiler alert! It’s descriptive logos. But only maybe – some of the time.

New Wordmark and Identity for Duolingo
Not a big fan of the owl but I guess he’s popular. Really love the typography he inspired.

Struggling J.Crew is getting left in the dust by Madewell, a brand of its own making
Wow. Beware the spinoff brand.

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