Iterative Marketing Podcast – Ep. 2: Defining Your Brand

Iterative Marketing Podcast – Ep. 2: Defining Your Brand


Hello Iterative Marketers!
Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast where each week we give marketers and entrepreneurs
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of your fellow iterative marketers. Now let’s dive into the show. Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast I’m your host Steve Robinson
and with me as always is Elizabeth Earin. So what’s keeping you busy these days Elizabeth? Just balancing work and family, the usual story. What about you? A lot of the same on our end. So, today we are talking about brand. I think it probably makes sense
before we dive into defining your brand that we probably should talk
about what brand means because I know that among
the marketing circles that I am in not everybody uses
this word exactly the same so why don’t you kind of give us
your idea what brand means to you. That’s a great question and for me I think it’s something
that’s kind of evolved over time and as my role has evolved in working
on the corporate side versus the client side but kind of where I’ve
settled lately is that brand is the perception of your organization
by the individuals who are outside of your organization and you know I think that’s
a little bit of a scary definition because when you think about it that way
you realize you’ve lost some of your control. Yeah. I always try to talk to clients about
its not so much control as it is influence. You have some influence over your brand and surprisingly it’s not in
the ways that we traditionally think about the influence on our brand
like our color palette and our logo and what do our ads inspire it’s just as much on the
front line of your business and the individuals that are interacting
with your customers, your clients. I think Costco has a kind of an ugly logo. I’ve never seen a Costco ad. They’re not a beautiful place
when you walk into them but I’ll tell you they have some of the
best fans in the world, myself included and I love Costco. Very, very strong brand but it’s not because of their
logo and their slick advertising. I think that’s a really great point
and I like the example that you used because I think it really
helps to put it into context. I think a lot of people
do define brand when you talk about brand
they specifically are seeing their logo and their type face and the colors
that they’re using and exactly where the logo
is positioned on the page those are the elements of their brand
that they think defines their brand but in reality that’s just
the visual representation of it. It’s so much more than that
and you honed it on that and it’s the emotion that those visual
representations evoke in each of us. Yeah. And I think that’s exactly the point
it’s that the visual evokes that emotion. So the visual is what we remember,
it’s the trigger, it’s the association because if you think
back to caveman days we were walking around
and we needed to quickly assess whether or not the other human
that we ran into was a friend or a foe did we need to get ready
to fight or run away or are we about to go
hunting together or whatever whatever cavemen buddies did I’m not sure exactly but that fight or flight or stick around
response is part of our brains that didn’t go away as we evolved,
it just got other stuff layered onto it and our natural association is to associate something
that we see with some way that we’re supposed to feel. So if you think about your brand
and the visual components of it we need to create a face
for these companies that you know our organizations
or our client’s organizations that they’re going to recognize that’s going to trigger that recognition as much as a face would trigger
recognition for another human because to some extent a brand
is a proxy for a human being. I think that’s a great point. In the absence of these
human touch points which we sometimes have a more
interacting with brands because we may only be seeing the logo
or we may only be shopping online in the absence of that human touch
the brand becomes the person that we identify with and that’s the brand is who we
end up holding accountable. It seems like every week there’s
a new study about how decision-makers buyers on the B2B side
and consumers on the consumer side dread picking up the phone and talking
to someone or visiting a store and they just want to take care of things
on their own, self service, online and not have to deal with a human being. Well that human being is what we would end up
associating all those warm fuzzy feelings towards. So now I think you nailed it in the absence of that human being
we have to create something else visual experiential through colors,
typography, fonts, logos, other images that we can latch on to and then figure out how
to associate the feelings and trust and appreciation that would come on the other side
of a human interaction. So let me ask you this –
What happens when a brand falls short of that? What happens when you don’t deliver that consistent
experience that the customer has come to expect? I think it’s all about that
consistency there right? There have been some interesting
research along those lines about what happens when
we hit a hiccup in the consistency and the experience that we’re getting and the phrase that gets used is called
‘cognitive dissonance’. So if you think about it I’m a rat and I go up to the bar,
I hit the bar I get a pellet I’m a rat, I go up to the bar,
I get the pellet and I do this over and over again then I go up to the bar
and I don’t get a pellet well that one experience is going
to stick out like a sore thumb compared to all of those other experiences
where I went up to the bar and got a pellet because its in contrast, its in
dissonance of the previous experiences. That doesn’t have to be that overt. It can be in very, very subtle ways
where I’m used to seeing the right colors and the right topography
along with this particular logo and the moment I don’t then
all the sudden I start to question – Wait, is this the same place?
Is this the right place? Is this authentic? Is it real? And I do that in a
very subconscious way but the same thing is true
on the experience end of it where if I’m used to walking into Costco
and approaching a Costco customer service person they approach me with a smile
and a warm friendly hello and that’s what I’m used to. When I walk up to the counter
and I get somebody who has had a really bad day that’s going to stick out like a sore thumb
and that’s going to really taint my impression of that brand. And I think it’s something that you know
we can sit here and talk about the logo looks different then
you’ve got this breakdown and we can talk about if the customer service
that you’ve come to expect isn’t there we’ve got this breakdown but I think there’s another
side of it to that this occurs and that’s something
that I’ve seen happen I have experienced it myself
in the past with past companies there’s this new marketing thing
that everyone else is doing and companies feel like they have
to be on the cutting edge so you know what everyone’s
talking about Snapchat let’s pop on Snapchat
and let’s start doing that. If that is not in line with who your brand
is then you’re creating this experience that again is that break down from what they expect
to what you’re trying to deliver in. And what does that do for the brand? I mean is it is it helping it?
Is it hurting it? How we react to that? Yeah, that’s a great point. I think it comes up in other places too. A lot of brands when they first start
doing content marketing they realize wait this is a lot of work
to go and create all this content can’t we just outsource this? Answer is yes but if you want it done in a way that’s authentic
with your brand it’s going to cost a fair amount of money you can’t just hire somebody to throw up
500-word blog posts on your behalf and expect them to resonate with your brand
and not introduce some of that cognitive dissonance. Wait, they’re talking in a very
pompous way in this blog post this isn’t the brand that I have come to know or these guys sound like idiots. You have to be very careful when
you introduce a new medium that you’re doing it in a way
that is in line with your brand. I think that’s a good point. So how do you understand
what is and isn’t in line? What’s the first step there? You have to identify what your brand is and to do that there’s two
aspects you have to look at. I think you have got to look at
what your company, what you hold to be true what your values are,
what you want your brand to be but you have to take a step back
and you have to look at at what the perception of your
brand is from your customers and what does that brand gap look like because until you understand where you
are now and where your customers are it’s hard to start moving forward and being able to either address that
and stay down the right path or to address it and try and close that gap
between those different perceptions. – So it’s a research component right?
– Definitely, yes. And I think that over the years I know we’ve kind of
developed some methods for those research a lot of folks do it a little bit differently. Before we get into our process
and how we go about researching it though I think we should take a quick break and we should
figure out how to make the world a better place. How does that sound?
-Sounds great. Before we continue I’d like to take a quick moment
to ask you iterative marketers a small but meaningful favor. We don’t have sponsors for this podcast. Instead of asking you to get a free digital scale
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Hector Sunol of Cyzerg in Miami, Florida. Hector asks that you make
a contribution to FIRST an organization dedicated to inspiring young people
to be science and technology leaders. Your donation will go towards engaging kids
in kindergarten through high school in exciting mentor-based research and robotics programs
that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. Learn more at firstinspires.org
or visit the link in the show notes. Welcome back! Okay, so before the break we talked
about what a brand means, what it is, why it’s important, then we started to get into well
okay how do you figure it out and I know here at Brilliant Metrics we’ve
developed a process that’s a bit unique to us but there’s lots of ways
you can go about this you can hire a market research firm,
you can do surveys informal you can interview your customers, your clients. The important thing is to do the research
and reach out and talk to others to find out what they think of
your brand from the outside. Our process is what we call a brand vector and the basics of a brand vector is it’s a survey
that gets sent out to your customers and ideally you send it out to those people
who aren’t customers, those near-misses those folks that came in through sales process
and never came out as a client or customer because those are the people that
haven’t had a chance to be brainwashed by your customer service
and the work that you are doing. All they can see is what they knew before
they came into the sales process and their experience interacting with sales which is really the place where you’re pushing and projecting
the most at the front of the organization. So we get those folks in,
we send the survey we ask them to rate where do they see the organization
sitting on a spectrum of two extremes extremes are going to be different depending
on your industry and where you stand but they are either attributes of the
service or product that you’re offering or they are feelings that you
might evoke in that individual. So are we buttoned up and stodgy or are we totally loose and freestyle
and wearing shorts to work, right? Do we feel like we are authoritative
or like we are all learning together? You set up these different
believable extremes in spectrums and ask people to rate
your brand on that line where do you sit,
which extreme are you closer to how close are you to it and then you run that same survey that you
ran with your clients and your near misses you run it internally with your employees because they’re the ones that need
to be living this in the front line and then separately you run it
with your leadership team because you’d be surprised how often
leadership team will put a dot way off to the right and then the employees, the clients
and the prospects are all kind of in the middle. I really like how you are talking about you’re talking specifically to your leadership team,
you’re talking to your employees and then you’re talking to those
outside the organization and I think that’s key because I’ve experienced in my own
brand audits that I’ve done in the past that there is very rarely have
I ever seen it all align perfectly. There is some sort of break down there
in what’s being communicated and what someone feels
is true to the brand and so I really like that the
brand vector survey addresses all of those. The other thing that I really love
about the brand vector survey and I’ve seen bits and pieces of this
in other versions of brand research but I really like that we use
those two sides of the spectrum because it’s easy to sit here and say that
we want to be one specific way we want to be fun,
but where are we on that fun spectrum? Fun can go a lot of different ways. So by giving the two different extremes
you can kind of see how that balances out so that you’re not
all off on one corner it helps to put it in perspective. I had done a brand discovery with a
previous company that I had worked for and they used a really
cool format too where it was almost like a
red light, green light, yellow light. It was like if we are in
the green section we are good. If we are in the yellow section
it’s getting a little iffy if we’re here. And then if we were in the
red section you are totally off brand. And again, it kind of put that into terms so each person could
internalize that and take that and it helped to give them kind of that scope
of what was acceptable to be on brand or to be off brand. Yeah, and I think the key
is its just to document it its to research and get it documented and then take that information
and then use it to produce a clear and uniform understanding of
your brand internally and externally so that you can level
that across the organization. That kind of brings us
to the next step here and that is once you’ve done the research
now how do you communicate this out because if your brand document sits
in a drawer it doesn’t do anybody any good so how do you package it and then
how do you get it out to the team. And I think those are two separate
things that we want to look at. So let’s look at packaging first. -Okay.
-Because like we spoke to earlier a lot of people consider their
brand to be their logo, their typeface the colors that they’re using,
the position of their logo on specific ad creative and that’s great, but that’s just
one component of your brand and so you’ve got kind of your style guide
and that’s really important to have but we have to add in that
that emotional portion of it and we use on our side
something called a brand manifesto and really it’s a document that
just kind of defines and outlines the emotional components of the brand. So we’re combining identity so the look of our brand,
the visual elements and the guidelines for using those across
the platforms with the personality of our brand which is how our brand
makes someone feel and a lot of times this is
through voice and through tone and that’s probably its
own podcast on itself but in addition to that there’s a third
component to adding to your style guide in your brand manifesto of
identity and personality and that’s authenticity and it’s making sure that what
it is that your brand stands for is consistent across the board and that its permeating every touch point
that your customer is coming in touch coming in contact with along
every level of the organization and the only way that
you can make that happen the only way that you can
ensure that every single customer no matter if they’ve stopped to talk
to the janitor who’s picking up trash or they run into the CEO in the hallway the only way to make sure that that
they’re getting that consistent brand feeling is to communicate that brand
out to your organization and unfortunately I think this is
where a lot of companies fall short. So, let me make sure
that I got this straight. So you have two components
to any good brand guide and the first part is the visual component this is the basics that everybody
probably has somewhere probably in a drawer somewhere
of this is how we use our logo these are our corporate colors,
this is our font stack this is maybe some vocabulary that we use maybe some tone to our writing and then those are
the cues, the visuals, the experience that then we associate
with the brand promise or what we fulfill and then the other component
of that is the fulfillment part how do we fulfill on the brand and that’s the values,
that’s the tone and actions and the way that we act that
fulfills on the brand promise that we try to set up
with the visual cues. Is that right? That is correct. Okay. And then the next trick is to get
that out to the organization and I know that on projects that I’ve worked with we’ve
gone as far as to create posters out of that we create little cards
that you carry in your wallet and then distribute
those to the team big events to kind of unroll the brand
and make sure that everybody is rara with it but I think the most important component
is really getting leadership behind it and getting them
acting out this brand when they’re communicating with
everybody else within the organization and to do that you have to get
buy-in from the entire organization at the beginning of the process as well as then
communicate it back out at the end of the process. At least that’s been my experience. Yeah. And if I didn’t know better I would say
we worked at the same company because I’ve been to
those rara brand kickoffs I have carried the little
piece of paper in my pocket and we actually had floor cleans as
you walk down the employee hallway to the floor that also reinforced
our brand standards, and those are all great and those are great
at getting it out there. Where I think, for that,
let me back up a second for that to happen you have to document
your brand and share it with organization and that’s a great. So I think that’s hurdle number one – document your brand and share
it with the organization but I think it needs to
go a step further and again where I think
a lot of companies fall down is they have the big rara,
here’s our new brand you guys are going to reinforce it in every
moment of truth you have with the customer and go out there
and have a great day but then a month later
no one’s talking about it anymore and for it to really
permeate the culture it’s got to be something
that’s consistent from again the top the highest position in
the company, the CEO down to someone who’s may be
working part-time two days a week and barely has any contact
with a customer or a client at all every single person needs
to understand that and the only way that that can happen
and feel authentic is if it’s something that permeates the entire brand or the entire
company and is reinforced consistently. Yeah, and that consistency is key. So it’s got to come inside it’s also has to be the same
because it is pushed out because if you are producing collateral
or media commercials, social media, whatever that’s going out that isn’t in line with the
same brand that you’re trying to reinforce internally then you create that cognitive
dissonance within your own ranks which really can mess
things up within a company. I think we’ve done a pretty
good job of talking about this and covered a lot of ground today. I’m sure we’re going to cover a lot
more ground in future podcasts on brand but I think now is probably
a good time to call this a wrap. What are we talking about next week? I believe that next week is the
Discovery of Your Personas. Oh! I look forward to that. So, until next week everyone
have a great time and enjoy applying some
Iterative Marketing at your organization. Talk to you soon. All right, bye! The Iterative Marketing Podcast
is a production of Brilliant Metrics a consultancy helping brands and agencies
rid the world of marketing waste. Our producer is Heather Ohlman
with transcription assistance from Emily Bechtel. Our music is by SeaStock Audio,
Music Production and Sound Design. You can check them out at seastockaudio.com. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe
to the podcast on YouTube and/or your favorite podcast directory. Visit iterativemarketing.net for more
Iterative Marketing goodness. We will see you next week. Until then onward and upward!

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