There is a beautiful video put out by Intel Visual Life profiling the ever-poised and articulate Michael Wolff, co-founder of the Wolff Olins Agency. The film is about brand, what brand is and why it matters. But it’s also so much more than this. It leaves something with you after it’s done. Some tone, some sense of color, some something that’s hard to define. Much in the way that good brand works, the video works on its viewers, saying more than it says, going beyond content, making form part of its story.
And, after all, isn’t brand really just about story? The story of your business. The story of your work. The story that makes your product more desirable than a similar product that has, perhaps, neglected to think long and hard about the story it tells.
Early on in the video, Wolff says that we package ourselves “in order to reveal ourselves authentically.” I love this idea, the sense that packaging—this seemingly external thing that is merely decorative—actually expresses something profoundly internal and immensely personal. That this very authentic thing can only really find its full articulation through something that comes from outside. And it doesn’t much matter whether we’re talking about the clothes you wear or the way you brand your business.
As Wolff says, branding is what makes you remember the look and feel of a thing, the way it impacts you, the effect it has, whether it makes you feel good or leaves you unmoved. And if your brand is not communicating the passion and energy that you genuinely feel for your product or your service, then you haven’t spent enough time actually crafting your story.
So, a few tips to get you started.
1) Brand is identity. It communicates the raison d’etre of your company. The “who we are” and “why we matter.” It is what differentiates you from the competition. Take a second and write down one sentence about what your service/product/business brings to the world.
2) Brand is about seduction. You want customers and clients to feel something in your presence and remember you when you’re not around. What three feelings do you want your product to convey to the world?
3) Know thy audience. Who matters to you? Who buys you? Your core business propositions must be aligned with the people you most want to reach. Jot down three brief profiles of ideal clients. How old are they? What do they do in their free time? How do they interact with your product? Remember these “people” and speak to them as you build your brand.
The nuances here are varied and many. Creating a story that moves people, or rallies them, or engages them, or enchants them, is not an easy task. But it is absolutely essential if you want to distinguish yourself in an environment that is so saturated with products and services and websites and businesses. And if you’re not actively building that story, you forfeit one of the most important tools available to you.
What have you done to help build your brand? What challenges have you faced? How important is story to creating the identity of your business?