To build a believable and trustworthy brand, customers and employees need to receive a relevant and consistent impression from both your visual and written language. Here are six danger signs that your brand communication is much less effective than it could be. Take the brand health check…
1    No definite personality
A large proportion of websites and promotional materials are quite bland. It’s hard for customers to get a real sense of the company they’re dealing with. Stock library photos, predictable words and ‘me too’ colours make you indistinguishable from all the others in your sector.
You can’t really start changing these things until you know who you are and what sort of brand personality reflects that. It’s not just about what you do but why you do it and what you genuinely care about. It’s about who you want to attract as your brand ‘tribe’ and what resonates for them at a deep and lasting level. Personality is not something a brand can, or should, change with every passing trend.
Quick test: Ask someone who doesn’t know your company to give you five personality words that come across strongly from your home page or printed material. Is that the personality you intend to convey?
2    Mismatch between what you say and how you look
It’s probably the most obvious one but still something many companies do not pay enough attention to. It’s no good saying you’re an innovative company if your logo, brand colours and design language look as if you’re a solicitor from the 1950s! It’s no good saying you believe in quality if all your branded material is inconsistent, riddled with style mistakes and shouts its offers with more banners and flashes than a mardi gras!
It’s no good saying you’re ‘friendly’ if your language sounds more like a corporate report than a conversation. It’s no good saying you make things simple for clients if it’s impossible for them to find their way through a complex web of information to what they need.
Quick test: Find the five descriptive words that are most repeated in your website and promotional material e.g. helpful, reliable, knowledgeable. Do the images and style tell the same story?
3    You’re not engaging both head and heart
For customers and employees to connect with you, you need to engage both their logical reasoning and their emotions. Yes, even scientists and engineers have emotions, values and higher objectives they want to achieve!
Depending on the product or service, the proportion of logic and emotion will vary but communicating effectively isn’t just about giving information it’s about making people feel something.
Quick test: How do your website, communication, packaging and other brand tools make people feel? Capture the first two words that come to mind. Bored? Confused? Neutral? Daunted? Or perhaps something positive? Confident? Inspired? Motivated? Delighted? Understood?
4    Your story is missing
Your story isn’t just your history on the ‘About Us’ page. It’s the context for everything you do that puts all your decisions and your look and feel in perspective. Marketing and communication without a clear story comes across as impersonal ‘sell’. No-one understands your motivations beyond making a quick buck.
It’s more than saying ‘We’re passionate about xyz’. It’s helping people get to know you, what you’re trying to achieve and how they can be part of it. It’s the foundation for building relationships, not just a sale.
Quick test: Do you know what motivates you? What really gives you satisfaction in your business (besides making money)? What would you like your business to be known for? Do you share that story?
5    You’re trying to tell all things to all people
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their branding and brand messages is trying to hit every possible pain or gain spot for every possible market. In trying to give more and more reasons why you’re the best choice, you end up with undifferentiated and confusing communication. Readers will have switched off long before you’ve pushed your last point home.
It’s better (and easier operationally) to build a reputation in your market for being the absolute go-to brand or one or two compelling reasons rather than being a company that does ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ and doesn’t stand out for any of it.
Quick test: Do you and your staff know your key differentiating brand messages and do these sing out from every brand communication you produce? The way you express them may be different in different contexts and for different markets but your brand theme should never be overshadowed by describing every widget and lever.
6    The words keep your reader at arm’s length
Most of us start our business career thinking it’s important to use very formal corporate language – and the more business or sector jargon we can incorporate the better. We want to sound credible so we speak in the third person about ourselves and our customers – avoiding saying ‘we’ and ‘you’.
Our written language needs to find the right tone. Simpler is usually better. Speaking directly to the reader with ‘you’ and ‘your’ makes a connection. Discover the subtle changes in language that create a major change of impression.
Quick test: Run some of your communication through a readability tester, such as a Flesch-Kincaid tool. Alternatively look for telltale corporate jargon like ‘Items will be prioritised and impacts considered going forwards’. That sort of language is a brand-free zone or creates a zone-out brand!
If you think you could do better with your brand language, Lloyd Grey is here to help. We can put the pieces together to create a memorable and distinctive brand that resonates through everything you do. It’s the difference between companies that are just ‘another player’ in their space and brands people really want to interact with.
To find out about revitalising your brand language with genuine brand personality, please get in touch. Contact us