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“The soul never thinks without an image.”

Aristotle

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“When there is an original sound in the world, it makes a hundred echoes.”

John A. Shedd

Decoding Modern Marketing

9. BRAND EXPRESSION

Once you have settled on a Brand Personality, you will need to develop a plan for how it is expressed. That starts with the visual expression of your brand, which is more than just selecting colors and shapes. It is a language, like music, that speaks to people directly with great meaning. There are no rules, except that your choices should reflect all the ideas that make up your brand, integrated into a single authentic visual style that is consistent with your personality. If your brand is dedicated to personal service, then it should visually reflect that with warmth and people. If, on the other hand, your brand is about efficiency and reliability, it will have a cooler personality, like many technology manufacturers.

IN OUR INCREASINGLY VISUAL WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOS SEEM TO DOMINATE MEDIA.

The photography you choose, for example, is also very important. The style of the images, the way they are composed, the quality of the light, and, of course, what they feature, say important things about the nature of your brand personality. Consumers pick up on it. They might not always be conscious of all the small details that you will sweat over, but they respond emotionally to the aggregation of these many small impressions. Most of the visual choices you make will create these emotional impressions, which need to be aligned with your Brand Personality and consistent over time. This is especially important in our increasingly visual world where photography and videos seem to dominate media, particularly social media. Within a single picture or video, a brand can tell its complete story, from it’s purpose and mission to its proof of delivery, as evidenced by GoPro, which feeds a constant stream of videos into every corner of social media.

“VOICE & TONE” ARE TWO OF THE KEY EXPRESSIONS OF BRAND PERSONALITY.

“Voice” denotes the style of speaking, written or aural, that a brand uses. There are as many styles as there are types of personality. The styles of speaking, the words you choose, say something about you, just as it would for a person. “Tone” is similar in that a creative manifestation of your brand, like a video, will have an overall tone, which might come from the music you select or the overall creative approach used. All of these factors need to align with your brand personality. You cannot have one brand on your website and another, different brand in your advertising. People will notice, and that inconsistency will leave an impression of inauthenticity. Every touch point should be part of this alignment and the consistency that it produces. This extends to even the scripts your customer service reps use and the way they speak.

Dollar Shave club exploded from a combination of a strong differentiated value proposition combined with a personality that was original and authentic. The idea was to talk to guys who wanted an easier, cheaper way to handle the whole shaving blade thing: “Dollarshaveclub.com – Our Blades are F***ing Great.” That same tone extended to the video that launched the brand and has continued to propel them to multiple bathroom products for guys and approaching nine figures in sales.

INCONSISTENCY WILL LEAVE AN IMPRESSION OF INAUTHENTICITY.

Once all of these elements have been decided, it is invaluable to produce a Brand Style Guide. The purpose of this document is to give everyone who might be creating marketing materials of any kind, from websites to TV commercials, clear direction on what fits the brand and what does not. It specifies, the typefaces you use, the style of writing, the way the logo can be featured and much more. It is also useful to provide a version of this document to employees who will be directly communicating with customers and prospects. This should lay out all the choices you’ve made about brand personality and your greater identity so that anyone representing the company can understand what and how they need to communicate.