With an ever-changing marketplace, it may be one of the most challenging times to start or own a business. The number of demands on businesses seem to be steadily increasing with technology and the interconnectedness of, seemingly, all beings and entities on the planet.
Whether your business is new or old, there are five things your company now needs to be relevant in today’s world. Take a lesson from one of the greatest companies in the world: McDonald’s. Hate the food or love it, McDonald’s has made a continuous investment in keeping its brand relevant through the decades since its birth. The result? It’s the highest brand value of any quick-service chain in the world at almost $100 billion.
Yeah, billion with a b.
This is the first part in a series we’re writing about the 5 things a brand must have in today’s marketplace. In other parts, we’ll take a deep dive into each of these five things to give you some more how-to’s and examples.
So, at a high level, here’s what you must have:
1. A logo that looks like you’re living in the 21st century.
Your logo is your business’s first impression. If it doesn’t say you’re living in 2018 (or beyond), then it says your business is outdated. Don’t skimp on this first impression, especially, if you’re in the tech industry, you’re a new and relatively unestablished business, or if you’re supposed to be trendy. These sectors demand the businesses within them stay current. No excuses.
It may be simple, but just like a handshake, your logo can say a lot - good or bad. It can communicate quality, relevance, confidence, beauty… and it can communicate the opposite. And not having one at all is just a missed opportunity to build a brand that invites people to wear your business around with pride, to be influenced by you, and to notice you quickly wherever you are.
And, on that note, logos have the power to become iconic - to become so woven into the American or local fabric that they become part of the culture. Think: Apple, Target, Starbucks, Google, Netflix, Amazon. They don’t need an introduction; we know them intimately and immediately.
On a local level, think QuikTrip - something so Tulsan that it’s a source of pride.
Here’s one example of a technology company’s brand transformation from something out of the 1990s to something from 2020s: (old Digi logo to new Digi logo)
2. Social media pages with content worth engaging with.
More and more companies are recognizing the value of social media in promoting their business. They’re not only using influencers, they are becoming them. Why? In part, because likes and follows can be incredibly powerful real-time market analysis. What your followers like most on your social media pages can give you insight into the kind of things they need and want. And it doesn’t necessarily cost a lot to get this ridiculously useful information.
Social media can also help you do more than analyze your market: It can help you tell a powerful story and help you establish a real relationship with your customers and potential customers. With Millennials as the country’s largest segment of buyers, the touchy-feely stuff matters. Millennials want to intimately know the companies they buy from - they want to know your motive, your ultimate goal, and what good you’re doing in the world. They want to know you really care. About the world - of course - but mainly about them. They’re hungry for ideas on what to wear, how to be, what to do. As a brand, you’re the expert. Social media is the perfect platform for engaging with your customers on that intimate level they crave.
Create content that people need. Give them something to nibble on, fall in love with, and they’ll be itching for more. Show people that you’re not just useful, you are necessary. It’s a giant, free advertisement that can be creatively and beautifully done.
3. A strong, clear message and understanding of your value proposition.
If you want people to become loyal to your brand and your products, heed Simon Sinek’s simple advice and start with why. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is his refrain throughout his 2009 TED Talk, and it’s why customers of Apple and Target, Gucci and Amazon don’t just buy from but love these companies. The chances are that you aren’t the only one selling what you’re selling or doing what you’re doing. You probably have competition. So what is the thing that sets you apart? I mean really sets you apart.
People love Apple because of the company’s belief in challenging the status quo - of pushing the boundaries and thinking differently. The result of that belief is beautifully designed products that are simple to use and yet offer complex tools we never knew we needed. Not a fan of Apple? It doesn’t matter; the numbers don’t lie. Apple ranks No. 4 among Fortune 500 companies with over $48 billion in net income.
Today’s consumers care about purpose. What does your company believe in? What is the thing about your company’s culture and message that set you apart from the other companies doing the same thing?
Having a clear message not only resonates with your customers, it helps you attract employees who care about what you care about. The people who work for you will be infinitely better employees if they’re working for more than just money. When their values align to your company’s, the synergy is just magical.
4. A uniform design style.
Simply put, not having a uniform design makes your business and your brand look sloppy. What does that say about the quality of work your company does? This inattention to the seemingly small details tells potential buyers that you lack style, relevance, and that you just don’t care. Unless you are a booming mom and pop shop that’s been around since 1933, you most likely can’t pull this off.
Today’s world is all about aesthetics. We have so. many. (too many?) tools. at our disposal to make everything look beautiful. Scroll through Instagram, turn on the TV, walk the streets of New York. There isn’t an excuse anymore to lack cohesion and aesthetic appeal.
Cohesion creates a more recognizable brand. Think about the last Target commercial you saw. You knew it was Target before the logo even appeared on the screen. Why? It’s that unspoken, gorgeous design cohesion and strong brand identity that shine through immediately.
This is the way to becoming a top-of-mind brand. Your image is ubiquitous. Your style is known. You don’t have to speak to be noticed. Everyone knows your name. All distractions are automatically weeded out. It’s every business’s dream to have a brand like this.
5. A voice (writing and content style) that resonates with your target audience.
So you thought your high school English class or Freshman Comp II wouldn’t matter in the real world? Think again. Writing - maybe today more than any other time - is one of the most sought-after skills in any business. Your entire media life is made of words. Your business needs to have a strong voice in a very loud and crowded market.
Voice humanizes your business, and, most importantly, it can help you hit your target market. Look at Smile Direct Club: the company’s voice is familiar, friendly and funny. Its target market? Yes. Millennials. They know Millennials don’t like stuffy bullshit. They like realness. Smile Direct Club’s marketing materials read like you’re talking to your very own Millennial pal.
Your company’s voice compounds the strength of your message. When you have a consistent design, a consistent voice, and a clear message to communicate, everything makes more sense and it gets reaffirmed through your presence on every platform.
Tbh, a strong voice and great writing make you seem smart and credible. Like you know wtf you’re doing. And that’s kind of important.
Freaking out because you don’t have one, some or any of these five things? Don’t. We got you. We do this for fun. We dream this stuff in our sleep. You can call us for a free 30-minute chat about your business and your brand. Seriously. Free. Schedule it here.