Every great company needs to create a brand that separates it from the sea of sameness out in the big, wide world. But, with all the noise out there today--from traditional and online advertising, to social media and other news and media outlets--it's getting harder every day to stand out.
What's a brand to do?
According to Ashleigh Hansberger, co-founder of fast-growing branding agency Motto (a company I've done work with in the past), there are 5 very specific things that any company can do to turn your safe, vanilla brand that barely gets the needle twitching into a 5-alarm force of nature that sends your competition into a panic--and customers to your front door.
1. Don't delegate brand to the marketing department
Brand is an important way to create value for your business. If you don't want your brand to live in a file cabinet or on a poster in your conference room, then don't hand it off to the marketing department. "Brand" is not someone else's job. It's your job. Great companies have CEOs who are passionate brand advocates who prioritize brand. Lead it, own it, embody it and your employees will, too.
2. Drop a bomb
Incremental progress is fine when you're a player, but how do you become a player in the first place? You build a brash brand that disrupts your category, leaving everyone stunned and staring. That's what Nest Labs did. When they launched their line of smart thermostats and turned them into connected nerve centers for the entire home, they forced giants like Honeywell to completely rethink their business model.
3. Weird is good
Be strange. Or provocative. Or silly. For example, PotatoParcel.com turns a profit by mailing people messages scrawled on Russet potatoes. Why? Because. The point is, be different. Consumer interest, press attention and investor dollars all roll downhill toward what's novel and fascinating.
4. Don't throw pennies at your image
The big mistake most companies make is they burn all their cash on product development while pinching pennies with their brand. That's a bad idea. You can't build a crushworthy brand on the cheap. Spend on branding and squeeze your budget somewhere else.
5. If you want to get people to church, deliver a great sermon
Inspiring leaders know that it's not what you sell, it's what your business stands for and the good it's doing in the world. Truly great companies deliver a powerful and inspiring message. Have something to say, not just something to sell. That's how you create impact and move people to fall in love with your brand.