We’ve all heard the expression that actions speak louder than words. But what about when it comes to branding?
Every brand has a core message – well, every successful brand, that is. By that, I don’t mean just a description of its products or services, but a voice, a style, a tone: something that consumers can relate to. You may not realize it, but most of your purchasing decisions are based on subconscious feelings. In fact, 90% of all buying choices made by anyone are influenced by underlying emotions or connections to a given brand. Do you still think words aren’t important?
In today’s day and age, customers turn to Google before making almost any purchase. Or social media. And what do both of these outlets have in common? An abundance of messages. Words on words on words. And in order for these brands to be successful, they have to start with the right words that grab their reader’s attention.
For anyone who’s done any sort of marketing copywriting, you know that finding the right words isn’t always as easy as it seems. But with a deep understanding of the brand, the right research, and an openness to creativity, you can turn a brand from just a name to something memorable, exciting, and loved by the masses.
First things first: Know your facts.
With just about any marketing decision comes a strong need for research. If you’re making choices solely based on your own personal beliefs or biases, then you’re facing the large risk of missed opportunities and even failure. Your brand relies on the business of your customers — so shouldn’t you be catering to them?
Let’s start with your primary target audience. Who are they? Are they tech-savvy, fast-paced millennials? Or are you targeting a specific niche like construction builders or beauty retailers? Knowing who you’re selling to and what they like and dislike is key to coming up with the right message. If you’re trying to sell a product to an older generation, you don’t want to be using slang that only college students and users of Urban Dictionary might understand. If you’re selling to business executives, you want to maintain a sense of formality and authority that demonstrates your broad knowledge on the given subject and convinces them to invest in you. Speak in a language that they can understand and relate to. Make them feel like a friend or a peer of your brand, rather than just a source of income.
Beyond just your customers, you need to know your external environment as well. Perform a market analysis with a full search on any potential threats or opportunities in your industry. Find your key competitors and study them. What are they doing that’s working? Where are they falling short? How can you convince consumers that your products are better than theirs? Understanding your competitors places you at an advantage, as it allows you to build off of their success or shortcomings and better your own position.
Don’t know where to start with all of this research? Trust me when I say that Google will become your best friend. Start with a simple search using some basic keywords that describe your brand, and then just build from there. If you find an article you like, browse their sources. If you come across a piece of data that intrigues you, focus your search on it. Allow yourself to become immersed in your search — just don’t stray too far from your original goal.
You know your customers, but do you know yourself?
Take a step back to focus on your brand. What sets it apart from anyone else? What benefit are you giving your customers? This is where a business textbook might come in handy. Consider your unique value proposition and how you want to relay it – what is it about your brand that you want people to know about above all else? This could be your use of a state-of-the-art, never before seen technology, some ethical environmental practices (think Reformation and their non-water-wasting clothing production), a new life-changing application… anything that makes you stand out.
If you find yourself struggling with how to differentiate yourself, this is your chance to make any needed changes. Think about your customers’ pains and needs; what is it that they’re missing from other services and products out there? What is it that they’re looking for above all else? Consider the aspects of convenience, speed, customization, appearance, delivery, and reliability — how could you potentially change your business model to meet your customers’ standards, or if you’re already up-to-speed with them, how should you be promoting that?
Channeling your inner artist.
Now for the fun part. You know what you’re looking for, you know what message you want to convey, and now you just have to find the right way to say it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with different messages. Grab a notepad and just start writing different words and ideas that pop into your head, no matter how ridiculous or irrelevant they might seem at first. Use a thesaurus. Look up memes and songs. Search around on social media. Play around with different sounds and word combinations.
Find the right tone and style of your brand’s voice and stick with it – consistency is key in this case. You want consumers to be able to recognize your brand each and every time they come across it, meaning you can’t go confusing them with constant changes. That isn’t saying you can’t make any adjustments or improvements; just make sure you have a plan and strategy for it first.
Whatever you do, don’t overcomplicate things. Sometimes the best messages are in fact the simplest. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Nike. It’s only ranked number 14 on the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands List.
The right message might not come to you immediately, but that shouldn’t discourage you. For me personally, it can sometimes take me days to come up with a simple 3-word slogan or even a single Instagram caption. But once you find your message, run with it.