You probably have go-to brands for every product you buy — from your computer and phone to your clothes, shoes, and food.
You go out of your way to recommend a favorite brand to friends. You get them to try it and want them to love it.
But not every industry has a go-to brand. Sometimes, there’s no clear winner. Customers merely tolerate the brand they use — or worse, dislike it.
Indifference towards a brand means there’s an opportunity to connect with customers. You have the chance to attract dissatisfied customers and give them something they can’t get enough of.
If you’re going to create a brand that draws people in, you have to focus on three things:
Simplicity makes a brand great.
This means distilling a brand down to one word or feeling. If I say Nike, Apple, LinkedIn, Airbnb, there’s an ethos that customers easily recognize and remember. Athletic. Innovative. Connected. Home.
Great brands use their word to shape every aspect of the brand.
Average brands lose this simplicity by trying to be everything to everyone. Their messages are too complicated. Sometimes people describe their brand, and several sentences into it, you still don’t understand their core message. That’s a bad sign. You have to be able to explain your brand in a really simple way.
At ThirdLove, our word is “fit.” Fit means many things, but all of them are important to who we are as a brand. Fit is finding your personal fit. Fit is about half sizes. Fit is about the Fit Finder. It’s about fitting into your life and your uniqueness as a person. It’s just a three-letter word, but our entire brand revolves around it.
That single, simple message is the best way to connect with customers and stay top-of-mind.
If you want customers to truly connect with your brand, their feelings towards your brand need to be consistent.
They should feel a particular way when they see your logo, your product, and your marketing. A consistent brand creates a familiar emotional experience to keep customers coming back.
Many companies struggle with this. Teams creates emails, ads, and a website, but no one checks if they’re on-brand or off-brand. Messaging ends up going down multiple paths because there’s no consistency around its core ethos. And different messaging means customers don’t get the same experience every time.
You can solve that problem by investing in your brand as early as possible to develop guidelines and repetition in your messaging.
Once you’ve created a consistent message and image, don’t be afraid to evolve it. Take Nike, for example. Their imagery has evolved over the past decade to present a more feminine side, but they haven’t lost their core ethos — athleticism. This consistency lets their brand evolve, while continuing to connect with customers.
You can’t force a great brand into existence.
There has to be an ease about it, a feeling of authenticity that makes customers comfortable. They know what they’re in for every time they step into a Starbucks, a Target, or a Nordstrom — and it’s easy relive their experience again and again.
But authenticity requires buy-in at all levels. Some companies do a crazy amount of work to create a brand, but they don’t get their teams to buy into it.
You have to align your brand with your operations.
You can’t create a brand and send out a company-wide email saying, “Here’s how we’re branding from now on.” It won’t work. You need to communicate it clearly and talk about it all the time.
Make sure everyone understands what you’re after and what the company is all about. Create a brand pillars presentation, build your brand persona, send out example customer service emails. Do what it takes to integrate your brand into your business. Once it’s easy for your team to talk about your brand, it’s easier to share your core message with customers.
Which makes it easier for customers to see your authenticity and get comfortable with your brand.
Start With Brand Pillars
Brand pillars define who you are as a company.
They’re the bedrock to craft your brand on. They keep you on-brand as you make decisions around brand expression and experiences, but they’re separate from your single word.
In the early days at ThirdLove, having brand pillars changed our business and our branding in a really positive way. As we were growing and evolving, we went back to those pillars to remember who we were as a brand. To this day, our brand still revolves around being grounded, positive, expert, feminine, and expressive. And we keep these pillars in mind when shaping our messaging around “fit.”
Once you invest the time and energy into creating the foundation and core message of your brand, you’ll notice something amazing. Everything grows from that foundation. You keep building on it.
As your team grows, you don’t have to constantly rebrand because your team evolves with the brand. They take ownership of it and work to make sure it’s a brand customers are truly passionate about.