Let’s start with some tried-and-true branding tactics that I have collected and honed over the years. Use these actionable methods to present your aligned, inspiring, mission-driven brand to the world.
Now, before I start unpacking the tactics, I want you to take a deep breath, sit back, and picture your brand as one that reflects who you are, what you believe in, and what your tribe longs to access.
Is that what you want?
Then do this…
learn to be vulnerable… trust your beliefs to guide you… and use your own authentic voice to speak to your market.
Doesn’t it feel good to start to heal the broken parts of your branding, mending the inconsistencies and learning to lead with your heart?
In your mind’s eye, envision how your brand can make this world a better place.
- What need does it meet?
- What language does it speak?
- How does it appear from the outside to passersby (whether physically or in an online space)?
Now the big question: Is your brand offering an original interpretation of what you sell?
You are a unique human on this earth. Your brand is a unique offering to your market. If your brand doesn’t stand out from the crowd, it’s time to make that happen.
Ask yourself…if you’ve had success where others have failed.
If so, can you interpret your brand this way?
Can you show that you are different because you are the only one who has solved this particular problem?
Or maybe you’re the only one who thought to solve it with this method.
Another way to offer an original interpretation is to sell a product in place of a service (or vice versa). Think: “Skip the plumber and use Drano.” (or skip the secretary, use Siri)
Can you build in loss avoidance where other brands have neglected to do so?
There are two things people hate to lose – time or money… or both.
So, save them time and money… “You don’t have to deal with the clog. Let me.” Both Drano and a plumber could play on this strategy.
So first things first: What’s your original interpretation? A passion-filled movement will not spring out of a generic brand. Be original. Stand out.
Now, do you have your brand and your original interpretation in mind?
The resources I’m sharing with you today will be split into three categories: Visual tactics, verbal tactics, and action tactics. They are all real strategies that you can begin to implement today. They are all a way for you to present yourself, your brand, and your original interpretation to your market.
Let’s do it.
Thomas Sebeok, a renowned semiotician and linguist, believed that we can determine whether something is alive by whether or not it communicates meaning to others of its kind. His theory was called Sebeok’s Thesis, and was used across several fields in the humanities.
Today I want you to think of his theory in terms of your brand.
- Do you use words or symbols that immediately call out to those who share your core values?
- Is your brand alive to others?
- Do you use images that rise above the noise to stand out in a meaningful way?
Think about when you’re on a long, tiring road trip— then suddenly you see a distant image, rising above a cluster of buildings. It’s a familiar sign, the Starbucks logo. And you relax. You know what to expect from your experience there and that pulls you in.
This is the kind of connection you want to create with your brand’s visual communication. Here are some tactics:
Keep in mind that a logo is not a brand. It is simply a symbol. But when it comes to communication, our brains love symbols! A picture is worth a thousand words. Logos are a short-hand version of your brand’s message, and so creating a logo that is authentic to your brand’s culture is crucial. You want a simple symbol that evokes emotion and represents the core of your brand’s identity.
Like a logo, infographics capitalize on how images communicate information quickly. Consider ways to include infographics in your marketing…
- Could you create an infographic of the problems your products solve?
- Could you create an infographic of the process clients journey through as they experience your services?
- Could you create an infographic that displays your brand’s core values and beliefs?
The truth is that we have five times more information now than we did in 1986. It’s too much to digest. Infographics take loads of information and data and simplify it into snapshots. While details and nuance are sometimes lost, the core message remains.
Imagine a bride, a vision in white as she walks down the aisle to her lover. Imagine a fiery sunset, how it makes you feel alive, like your heart is flickering within you. Imagine the peace and calm of a light blue wintry sky.
Color is so simple, so subtle, and it communicates so much. When you build your brand, it is important to take the psychology of color into consideration. The wonderful thing is that the Identitype System narrows this down for you. Each Identitype has a key color.
Wondertrust, for instance, relates to white. Why? Because Wondertrust is characterized by innocence, and white carries with it the emotional connotations of innocence and purity.
But what if your Identitype’s core color is red? Well, this indicates warmth, and the energy of love or intensity.
Take time to carefully consider your top three Identitype’s color schemes. When you use visuals for your brand, it’s important to match your personal Identitype colors with your business Identitype colors. What kind of visual palette can you mix that feels like it represents you and your business brand? Take those and utilize them in all of your communication to your market.
First, before using this strategy for your brand, remember that a broken promise is far more harmful than a promise that was never made. If you guarantee something from your brand– a result, a feeling, an experience– be sure to follow through, no matter the cost. After all, this brand of yours is built on authenticity. That means that your promises are made with full intention of keeping them.
But what exactly do I mean by a promise? I mean a guarantee. Every brand should offer some kind of guarantee, because that builds trust.
What can you guarantee to your brand’s followers? Can you guarantee that your product will work? If not, can you guarantee that you will fix it free-of-charge if it ever breaks?
It’s perfectly acceptable to keep your promises small in the beginning. You could guarantee that you will be available for consultations every Friday from noon to 3 p.m. Or, you guarantee that if your product doesn’t perform better than your competitors’, you will refund the money.
It’s also possible that your brand’s promise is a “negative promise.” They are powerful. For instance: “Never suffer acne again.” Can you imagine the joy this would bring to someone who is plagued by acne daily? You are offering them a way out— that this will never happen again. No more visits to the dermatologist. No more prescription drugs. No more embarrassing moments. It taps into your market’s basic human needs: to feel loved, to feel wanted, to feel understood.
Every brand, even new ones, should offer a guarantee. So what’s yours?
2. A BRAND STORY, MYTH, OR LEGEND.
Readers, dreamers, doers, and hustlers: You need a story.
This tactic is not optional for the successful brand. The good news is that you already have a story, but it probably needs some shaping and refining. Remember how your personal brand was a distillation, not fabrication, of your identity?
Your brand myth works the same way. It should be a curated distillation of your path to this place.
Use your journey, your defining moment, to establish the seed of your brand legend. Then go beyond that. It’s not just about who you are right now— it’s about who you want to be as leader five years from now.
Think of yourself and your business as being in the middle of the story. It’s already happening. Your future is now.
As you write your brand story, please don’t forget to stay true to your own journey. This is not about hiding your imperfections. Even heroes have flaws.
Imperfections and overcoming obstacles are part and parcel to authentic leadership. Everyone relates to struggle. That is part of our humanity.
As people engage with your story and your brand persona, you need to think about the specific words and phrases that you use.
Are you an academic individual, with a formal language register? Are you a life coach, who uses specific, thoughtful words and phrases to converse with clients? Are you poetic? Are you analytical? Think about not only the story you tell, but also the words you use to tell it.
And don’t forget about the language and words your followers use! Consider your target audience. If you are driven to connect with teens, use the languaging and phrases of teenagers. Or, in a deeper way, if one of your top Identitypes is Sovereignty, and you are building a brand whose message rings most true to Sovereignty types, make sure that the languaging of your messages align with that!! Use strong language.
Finally, remember that if you lead from a place of authentic inspiration, you will attract a tribe of like-minded people. This tribe mentality often gives way to a tribal name. What words will your followers use to describe themselves?
For instance, Lady Gaga. She calls her fans Little Monsters. Why? Because they are rebels! These see themselves as outsiders on the fringe. Many of her followers feel that they once didn’t belong, but now she has given them a tribe to call home. This is so powerful! An entire culture has been built out of her brand persona, legend, and language.
Another example is Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga: Her fans call themselves Twihards. Or they say, “I’m Team Jacob!” or “Team Edward!” This is a tribal language. They talk about their passions using a specialized language.
How will the words you use to communicate, name yourself, and name your tribe reflect the core of your brand? What names can you give to your products and services that align with the passion-filled movement you’re creating? What phrases and names will your target audience want to align themselves with?
I think of action tactics as the final, critical piece in your toolbox. Why? Because actions are about how people behave. When you employ action tactics, you are directly molding the culture of your brand.
There is a famous quote of contested origin that says,
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Look at how far your actions take you! Your actions become habits, which form your character, which directs your destiny. This is incredibly exciting, and should not be taken lightly. If your everyday actions can determine your destiny, think of how much that is magnified when you are considering actions taken on a brand level. These actions are witnessed and emulated by your followers, your employees, your business associates, and the public in general.
Ah, the word itself has a nearly religious connotation, doesn’t it? Rituals are actions that we repeat so often that they slowly are woven into the fabric of our everyday lives— the fabric of our identity, even.
When I talk about rituals as a strategy, I want you to consider what rituals your brand can offer to your followers so that they are consistently engaging with your brand’s culture.
Let’s look at Corona, for example. Nobody serves a Corona without a lime. Drinking a Corona means squeezing a lime into it. It’s so small, but it’s a ritual. It is a part of the experience.
Consider the iPhone, with its many rituals. The way we swipe to close apps. The way we hold the button down to talk to Siri. Even the way it fits in our hands.
What about Oreo? Got milk? You can’t have Oreos without milk! To eat an Oreo is a much more complex experience than eating any old cookie. It is cookies and milk. It is dunking cookies at the kitchen table before bedtime. It is twisting the two pieces apart to get to the cream center. Oreo has even launched ad campaigns based off of their customers’ rituals: “How do you Oreo?”
Rituals increase the perception of value. When customers are given a ritual in tandem with a brand, they are more likely to enjoy the experience (and to spread the world like wildfire!). When employees perform rituals as part of their job, even they are more likely to find their jobs rewarding.
When you attach an experience to a product or service, that experience becomes something more. It becomes a memory. It becomes a story. It becomes something worth memorializing and talking about.
So what are your market’s needs? What do they enjoy? How can you create a brand ritual that supports their needs and desires? How can you connect to them on that level?
Finally, I want to offer you the tactic of gamification. Anyone who has walked through a kindergarten classroom knows that humans learn through play. We learn social rules, but we also acquire hard knowledge in this manner. The beauty of gamification is that we don’t have to try hard to learn. We want to learn! We are enjoying the experience and picking up knowledge in the process.
On your business wheel, each Identitype has core motivations attached to it. This is crucial for gamification. Find a way to take these motivations and turn them into an enjoyable experience that your target market will love.
Let’s look at an example: Say you are a life coach, and your Identitype is Envisioning. The motivation on the business wheel— the gamification— is social influence. So part of what you should incorporate into your marketing plan is the goal to become a social influencer. Think to yourself, “What kind of ritual can I create so that customers regularly engage with my social influence?” Maybe you have Instagram contests, or feature clients there weekly. Maybe you create a Facebook page with an active forum. This might not sound like a game, per say, but it is “play.” It is an enjoyable activity for your target audience.
So how can you use the motivations on your top three Identitypes to “gamify” your customers’ experiences? How can you incorporate a sense of play or pleasure into interactions with your brand.
Bringing it all together…
Visual, Verbal and Action tactics should serve to promote your overall strategy and magnify your message. Choose one area to focus on. Then initiate a few ideas and see how your tribe reacts. Add a few more as you go along. Soon you will have them all in play.