You’re new. Just coming up with your business idea was enough to give you an ulcer, and now it’s time to unveil your deformed newborn company to the public. It’s scary. You’re going to make some bad decisions, and that’s okay. Just don’t make these bad decisions.
Rookie Mistake #1
A year ago I was in a meeting with a tech-industry client of ours. We were a few weeks into rebranding them and had created a short-list of new brand messaging: quick, witty taglines that we presented as their version of “Just Do It.” Along with the logo that had already been approved, we felt strongly that this was the appropriate new direction for the brand.
The client was scared. “Don’t we need to say what we do in our tagline?”
“Nike doesn’t mention shoes,” I replied.
“But we’re not Nike!”
I hear this kind of protest frequently. The honest translation of those words is “We are afraid to be that successful. We’re comfortable where we are, and we don’t want to change.”
If you’re hoping to reach the heights of success of the brands you admire, you have to communicate at the level they do.
Rookie Mistake #2
[clickToTweet tweet=”When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. — Dale Carnegie” quote=”When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion. —Dale Carnegie”]
There’s been an odd number of articles on the topic of emotional design published in the last year. I say odd because one gets the impression from reading these articles that emotional design is something new, but it’s been the key tool of smart brands since Coca-Cola helped invent the modern image of Santa Claus.
Today’s product landscape is cluttered. Wikipedia lists over 150 active social networking apps alone. The same can be said about shoe brands, soda brands, clothing, software…anything really. In today’s oversaturated market, introducing a new feature just isn’t enough. Brands need to feel inspirational and aspirational. I don’t wear Ray-Bans because they’re better than their competitors. I wear them because they’re cooler. They’re cooler in my mind because they’ve aligned themselves with things that matter to me.
Rookie Mistake #3
In a future blog post we’ll talk through the process of finding and hiring a quality branding agency, but for now let’s just openly laugh at some people that didn’t.
I feel weird just looking at this.
Rookie Mistake #4
At the start of every project, we ask our clients the same simple question: what is the single most important thing about your business? In classic industry-style we refer to the Single Most Important Thing as the SMIT, and in three years of helping companies find their voice, we’ve received a clear answer to that question maybe twice on the first try.
The usual answer is something like “making the highest quality products at the lowest cost that appeals to an audience of men and women between the ages of 10-100 with no particular interests at all.” The reason for this is not that the client hasn’t imagined their ideal customer base; rather, they’re worried that creating a brand for that customer will somehow turn off the rest of the populace, and when you’re a new or up-and-coming company, there is crippling fear of losing potential revenue.
Figuring out who you are as a brand is hard. Really hard. But I’m going to let you in on the one big secret that will help to define your brand in the minds of consumers and clients: just say no. Is your product for everyone? No. Is your brand communication going to be compelling to everyone that encounters it? No. Is every possible customer a good customer for your brand? No. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to all.