People judge books by their cover.
They judge cake by the icing.
They judge wine by the label.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brands wouldn’t hold the power they have in our society if it wasn’t for this aspect of the human experience. This very need to interpret, classify, and instantly relate to the people and things in our lives is the basis for branding. And it’s why accurate and interesting brand expression is actually a gift to our customers.
But this is also why we must remember that crafting a brand identity — the tangible design and voice elements that express our personality — isn’t all about us. Customers only care about the role all of this plays in making their lives better.
And it does. Consider all of the (increasingly difficult) things in life that the presence of brands help you do.
Like expressing your individuality.
Finding your individuality.
Connecting with a like-minded community. Being part of something.
Or simply breaking the monotony and boredom of a world living on auto-pilot.
The Plight of the Consumer.
Here’s an example I use in my workshops to demonstrate the real role of brand identity in our lives. Take a quick look at the two chocolate bars below and then go about making the very important decision of which one you would most likely buy in this moment.
Then ask yourself “why?”
When I ask people why they chose A, I get an entertaining assortment of answers: “It stands out.” “It’s bold.” “It looks badass.”
Those that lean toward B have very different answers: “It looks natural.” “It’s richer.” “Well-crafted.”
What are these answers telling us?
1 – We instantly and instinctively give character traits to something (or someone) based on their outward expression – how they look, what they say, etc. And, what’s more, we often trust that gut reaction enough to make an entire purchase decision based on it.
2 – Even more importantly, we’re seeing a promise in that wrapper. A promise that goes way beyond the boundaries of consuming a simple chocolate bar.
In our brand of choice, we’re seeing the style and personality of the person we believe we are or want to be; we’re seeing the promise of feelings we want to feel; the lifestyle we want to enjoy – even if it’s just in that moment.
And this doesn’t come from a naïve place. We know that we are making these leaps in logic, but it’s worth it to us. They make our lives easier. They add an extra thrill to every purchase we make, even ones as simple as indulging in a piece of chocolate.
Imagine the potential presented by a pair of jeans. A piece of jewelry. A book. A community.
Knowing this is how you elevate your offerings beyond a commodity in the minds of your audience. Whatever you sell, identify that extra level of promise you are adding to their lives, and express it. Realize that this is the true power of your brand identity.
It’s never about just “being pretty,” It’s about conveying an exciting and accurate promise of who they will be, what they will feel, and how their life will change when they get beyond the “wrapper.”