We are all alike in one significant way: each of us is one-of-a-kind.
Even nudists make personal choices to stand apart from the crowd, including chosen hairstyles, glasses, jewelry, etc. We can even brand our bodies with tattoos. The question I pose to you business owners is, “How does your business stand out from your competition? What does your brand – your business tattoo – look like?”
Definitions of branding may vary, but here is mine: An effective brand is one which tattoos the mind of the consumer with a distinctive, trustworthy and shareable image of the company and its products/services. In other words, it’s a mental hook that consumers can latch onto, one they can remember, believe in, and share with others. That’s a pretty tall order, and not easy to accomplish, but creating an effective brand (and more importantly, being that brand) is essential to the naked success of your business.
So, what are the core components of your company’s brand, your business tattoo? Let’s look at three: Your company’s name, logo and tagline:
Your Company Name
I’ve often thought that the perfect tattoo for a nudist would be an inked-skin version of the seminar name badge. “Hello, I’m Bob.” Think how convenient that would be at an AANR convention!
Obviously, your name matters, and your company’s name is a key part of its brand identity. Large companies with huge marketing budgets can create brand identification even if their name doesn’t embody the essence of their products or services. Think Nike, Sony, Cadillac, Georgia-Pacific, Apple (all with registered trademarks held by their respective owners, of course). A smaller company, however, might be better served by giving a hint as to its products or services. My company, for example, is Chenoweth Content & Design, and provides — you guessed it — content (i.e., writing, blogging, marketing communications, etc.) as well as Web and graphic design services. Likewise, if you run a nudist resort, having those very words in your business name carries the added benefit of identifying and speaking directly to your target market.
The flipside might be a business that calls itself Things & Stuff Solutions, or Knick Knacks & More. Just what ARE “Things & Stuff”? What ARE these mysterious “solutions”? What on earth comprises “& More”? By not giving consumers a clue about what your business does, you’ll have some extra “splainin'” to do.
Your Company’s Logo
Now we’re really talking business tattoo!
Your business needs a logo. Period. Your logo can employ a simple typographic treatment (like Barnes & Noble, Google, or Bing) or an iconic element (like Nike, Apple, or Chevrolet) or use them in combination as appropriate to the marketing/advertising platform or space available (think McDonalds, Walmart, and Facebook).
Increasingly, it’s important for a brand to have an iconic element. Why? Online platforms demand it. Just as a person’s thumbnail image or avatar is their face to the online world, so it is with a company’s icon. These images must be recognizable even at a small scale (as small as the “favicon” that appears on browser tabs). If you include such an iconic element in your logo, ask yourself this: “Does the icon visually represent my business even if rendered separately from my company name?” If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to freshen your logo.
The “No Tan Lines” Tagline
Just as your lack of tan lines probably tells the casual observer that you are a nudist, your tagline should be just as seamless. It should set the right tone and convey what your business does, how buyers benefit, and what sets you apart from competitors. In about 10 words. 15 tops. Seriously.
What’s more, your tagline should be closely aligned with, if not identical to, your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP (you DO have one of those, don’t you?); and can be part of your slightly more descriptive “elevator pitch” that also describes your target market.
Can you think of some memorable taglines? How about… “Got Milk?” (two simple words implying that because milk is good for you, you should keep it on hand); or “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands” (M&Ms’ assertion that they are less messy than other candies); or “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” (Alka Seltzer’s way of describing its unique dosing as well as its benefit); or “Nothing runs like a Deere” (John Deere’s use of clever word play to associate the company name with an implied benefit of quality and reliability).
The Bare Bottom Line:
Your business already has a tattoo, whether you know it or not. But does it send the right message? Does your brand truly appeal to your target market? If you’re not sure, contact me or to start or join a conversation. And stay tuned for the next column in this series, where I’ll continue to strip away the mysteries of branding, marketing communications, and… success undressed.