“To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just “who you are,” it is a process that you must be active in.”– Joss Whedon
If ever there was a quote that sums up “brand identity,” of course it has to come from Joss Whedon, master of brand identities within universe creation.
Having worked with brands and content for (gulp) 15 years now, there are three things I know to be true about branding that is crucial to understand in creating content of impact and connection. What the above quote does is capture every single one of them.
And then some…but we’ll keep it to five top ones today, mmmk? Okay!
Sit back, my friend, you’re about to have some business brand truths dropped!
To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning.
BRAND IS CUSTOMER DEFINED
If we could say, “this is exactly who we are and exactly how everyone sees us,” business connection would be so much easier.
The hiccup here is that our business brand (goodness, even our personal brand) is really two-sided: one side, our internal belief of how we act and are perceived; the other, what our audience actually sees to be true.
Ultimately, what our customers decide is true is the brand we have earned and will be known for. For alignment between your perceived brand definition and your audience, this comes down to acting in accordance with the brand identity you what to be known for.
BRAND IS NOT MARKETING
A business’s brand, at its core, is about owning an identity. A company can use marketing tactics to highlight this identity, but it is not crucial to defining it. What is crucial is having the aligned tactics with the identity you are earning.
Social media is a big one that companies often hiccup with in their marketing tactics purely because there is a misalignment in who they believe they are and who people believe them to be. There is a reason why recruiters are hyper-focused on building connections and online followings via LinkedIn rather than Instagram. It has to do with THEIR AUDIENCE and what they’re trying to accomplish. LinkedIn’s brand is about professional networking connections. Therefore, a recruiter is more likely to focus their marketing efforts on LinkedIn because it aligns with the brand they’re trying to create. Brand and marketing are two separate, yet intertwined entities, that, when used correctly, create POWERFUL brand connections.
It is not just “who you are,” it is a process that you must be active in.
BRAND IS ALWAYS ACTIVE
As impactful as gorgeous logos, amazing mood boards, inspirational visions, even insightful online blogs are, they are stagnant, easy one-offs that, if not used properly, will be brand pieces left to settle with heavy, heavy layers of dust (or outdated links…).
When looking at your gorgeous logo, how are you using this within your marketing strategy to create action? For blog and other online content, how are you sharing these across platforms to connect at the right times? As your own business evolves, how have your mission, vision and values?
How are you creating brand action that calls your aligned audience to you on a regular basis? Unclear how to start taking action? Look at your values and begin taking strategic actions based on these.
This starts to build greater trust in your brand…and your business.
BRAND IS EVER-EVOLVING
What Whedon hits on is that brand identity is something we must always earn. It is an entity that continues to evolve as we ourselves evolve.
The simple truth is that if you do not evolve your brand as your business itself evolves, your business will not be what you want it to be. There will be a disconnect between who you are, who your audience sees you as, and what you are then marketing yourself as.
As you evolve, you must continue to earn the brand identity you believe you are aligned with.
BRAND IS AN EMOTION; A FEELING
It is not a logo or a vision statement. People do not buy your tagline. They do not buy the cool promise you’re making.
They are buying the EMOTION you create within them. Interacting with you allows them to feel the emotion your brand stirred within them. This is the ultimate goal: interaction with you! By tying emotion into your brand, you will create more alignment and action from your desired audience.
Before I sign off to go watch a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (specifically, this episode because…AMAZINGLY HAUNTING!), I think companies are in a unique position unlike any we’ve been in before. It is important that we take a moment to reflect on who we were, who we are, and who we want to be as business brands.
We are learning so much about the human psyche and how marketing ties into it. Knowing that it’s ultimately our actions and how our audience sees us that defines our brand, how can you use this time to dig in and focus on earning the brand you want to be?