Your brand needs a message, a face, and a voice.
In order to discover your true brand you need to develop the three different components that comprise it: the message, the face, and the voice.
This is the foundation of your brand. Skip it at your own peril.
I spend as much time, if not more, with my clients on their brand message as I do on the other two components. The message of your brand is made up of a mission, a vision, and values.
I know what you’re thinking. “Mission statement? Bor-ring.” And many of them are because the purpose of a mission statement is often misunderstood. A good mission statement explains to the world why your company exists in a manner that is clear, short, and inspirational. And it should be exciting to think about. If you finish writing your mission statement and don’t shout, “Hell, yeah!” you’ve missed the mark.
This is the eventual destination of your company. It’s the mountain in the distance that you aspire to climb; constantly keeping it in your sight as you move towards it. I take my clients through a role-playing exercise in which I’m interviewing them about their company’s amazing success ten years in the future. It’s good to dream, and dream big.
Also known as core values, these list of characteristics (generosity, adventure, empathy, etc.) provide the boundaries of your company and help you stay on track towards your vision. They also provide a checklist for potential customers, partners, and employees to assess whether working with you will be a good fit. And you should use your values to vet customers, partners, and employees, as well.
Tip: Avoid listing values such as integrity and quality. These are assumed by your audience and if you have to state them publicly you probably should question whether or not you actually possess them.
This is what most people think of when you say “brand” and includes the logo, brand colors, imagery, and written content. All of these elements get their meaning from the message of your brand. If you skip developing the message you might have a pretty face but there will be nothing of substance behind it (insert your own punchline here).
I provide my clients with a visual identity system (logo, colors, typography) that accounts for many different applications and contexts and will scale as their company grows. Also, I don’t skimp on the written content and collaborate with professional writers to help my client create clear, consistent, and compelling marketing copy.
Article: What’s Your Logo Worth?
Once you’ve established the message and face of your brand, now you have think about how to bring these to the world. Which marketing channels should you use as the voice of your brand? A website is a given, because potential clients will look there first to learn more about you and make sure you’re not working out of a van down by the river. Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach an audience but there are many options to consider (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others).
Beyond a website and social media your brand voice can be print marketing, packaging, trade show graphics, billboards, podcasts, etc. These choices should be made carefully because selecting a voice that doesn’t carry your brand to the right audience is just wasted time and money.