Brand Identity: The Secrets of Successful 21st Century Brands
- Matthew Turner
As Dylan once wrote, Times Are A Changing… or as I like to look at it, times are evolving.
We might be 12 years into this new century, but people are quite slow on the uptake. Businesses of all kinds are being left behind. They’re clinging to the 20th century like the bad guy in Die Hard clings to the window.
My questions is WHY? Why would you cling to the past when the present is so good?
Why would you not embrace being a modern thinker? Why would you not join in and be a 21st Century Brand?
Maybe you are a 21st Century Brand. Then again, maybe you’re not sure about your brand identity. I guess we will soon find out…
A 21st Century Problem
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but competition is tough. We live in an age of low barriers of entry and ideas a plenty. Not only that, but we have the means to make these dreams reality.
Of course, all generations had this, but it wasn’t available to the masses like it is today.
Writers can publish all by themselves.
Inventors can crowd source their ideas and raise capital.
The once expensive shop can now set up online for around $50.
This is amazing…sort of. It’s great to have choice, but we have too much. You have a huge task on your hand. You not only have to come up with a great idea and make an exceptional product, but you need a Brand Identity that stands out.
Don’t worry, help is at hand. But before that, let’s first look at the differences between the mean old 20th Century and the swanky new 21st.
20th v 21st Thinking
Simply put, the 20th Century provided us with monologues. Marketers of yesteryear spoke at us. They were static, passive, and in your face.
Compare that to the 21st Century, and we have dialogues. We now have brand identities that converse with us. They’re interactive, vibrant, and standing outside of your bubble.
I’m a millennial, and I can assure you, it’s the latter we prefer. We’re a world of searchers. We don’t sit and wait for a product, but head online and search for it.
We find answers to the questions we have.
We set our standards high.
We don’t allow ourselves to be manipulated by every Tom, Dick & Harry.
The Role Of A Brand Identity Story
Would you like to know what I enjoy? I love creating stories. I like to think of myself as a storyteller. Sometimes this is through Fictional writing, but sometimes it’s via Branding.
For me, we live in a world of stories.
This is what a Brand Identity Story is all about. It takes those amazing ideas, elements, and antidotes, and builds something that connects YOU with YOUR audience.
- It immerses your reader
- It connects with them on a deep level
- It adds depth to the relationship
We all have a story to tell. When you began your company you had a dream. When you began this crazy journey you had aspirations.
This is the heart of your story, but it doesn’t stop here. It includes the colours you choose, the font, the design, the voice, the style, and the message you so carefully craft.
All these things are uniquely YOU. If told properly, you can educate, involve, and excite your audience. This is how you stand out from an ever growing crowd!
How To Tell Your Story?
First of all, the story you create is unique to YOU. I will offer my own tips, but make sure you tailor them around YOU. This is how to create a Brand Story that will change the world.
Before I do that however, let me first tell you what a Brand Story IS NOT:
- A Business Plan
- A Marketing Strategy
- A Communication Plan
- A stack of paper to keep your door open in summer
A Brand Identity Story is built around YOU. As such, it can be used every day.
It helps your employees understand your vision. It helps your audience understand what you do. It helps YOU stay focussed as time takes you by the scruff of the neck.
Know Your Vision
I believe any good business needs a solid set of Foundations. The heart and soul of your Foundations – and therefore Business – is your Vision, Mission & Core Values.
Your Vision is the What you plan to do and Why you want to do it
Your Mission is the How you will do this
You Core Values are Who you are.
If you can truly understand these aspects of your Brand, you can build a story that matters. This isn’t rocket science. It involves looking deep within and understanding what you’re doing.
Humanise Your Brand Identity
People buy from people. Even B2B companies are in the consumer game. After all, the person on the other end of the phone is human, right?
As such, Brands need to be human. We want to deal with Brands that have human traits. We desire affection, understanding, and conversation.
We don’t want to be sold to. We want to engage with. Make your Brand Story as human as possible. Consider your favourite novel…the lead character felt real, right? You could practically see them, smell them, and connect with them
Your Brand Story should achieve this, too.
Make The Message Count
Your message is important. As a reader of this Blog, I’m sure you’re well versed in marketing. Therefore you know the importance of perception. A solid message can make people see you in a manner you want to be seen in.
Get this wrong and things become rather hard further down the line.
Your message should align with your Vision, Mission & Core Values. It should also align with your style and everything else you create. If you don’t hit your message out of the park, your Brand Story will only achieve so much.
Include Your Audience
If you’re in the lucky position of already having an audience, involve them in your Brand Story.
Ask their advice
Ask them to contribute
Ask them to be part of the entire process
We only have to look as far as Danny. The Naked Marketing Book is crowd funded. He shares excerpts with us, asks our opinions, and makes us feel part of the process.
Can you utilise Kickstarter or a Facebook Group or a specially created forum?
Get Outside Help
The final tip is to get outside help. This doesn’t mean a consultant, company or coach, but someone close to you like a fellow entrepreneur, business owner, or friend.
Ask them what they think of your company. What comes to mind when they see your logo, hear your jingle, or come across your Brand in passing. Is there any brand association at play? Don’t forget about brand consistency: does it align with what you intend? Is it the story you wish to tell?
A Brand Story will not bring overnight success. What it will do is bring clarity. It will make your Brand more human, engage your customers, and showcase your passion to employees, customers, and anyone else who comes across you.
20th Century Brands are clinging onto dear life. They keep pushing messages at us and expecting us to react the same as we did in 80’s. Try as hard as you like old school gurus, but the world is evolving.
Will you be part of it?
Before I leave you to create your own Brand Identity Story, I would like to share some I love. I’m sure you will be aware of some, but others maybe new.
Will these stories be right for you? No…you’re unique and have your own story to tell.
But you can take inspiration. You can embrace the world we live in and let go of the edge.
- The Pen Project
- Dollar Shave Club
- And of course, my own Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million
Now, over to you. Do you have any favorite brand identity stories that might be inspiring to the rest of us? Care to share?