What Kind of Person Is Your Brand?

“What’s in a name?” is perhaps one of the most memorable Shakespeare quotes. When he penned this line in “Romeo and Juliet,” I’m sure he didn’t mean for it to have direct applications to branding in the 21st century. But there is perhaps nothing more important to your company than its name.

The name of a business is so much more than just its identifier. It carries a distinct persona that elicits an emotional reaction. It implies an experience. It invites interpretation and judgment. The way your name is regarded should stem from a precise interaction with the paradigm of the potential customer (a fancy way of saying it should be controlled by you rather than left to chance). The good news is that this interaction can be shaped and molded to fit the very goals your company aims to achieve. That’s where branding comes in.

What Makes a Good Brand?
Picture your company as a person. What does that person look like? How do they present themselves to the world? How do they speak? How do other people interact with them? Branding encompasses all parts of your business and makes it available to the public. But just as humans can make a bad impression, so can corporations. Bad brands ignore two crucial parts of branding:

1. The Nitty-Gritty Details

Brands need to approach every detail of their company with careful attention. Let’s continue to use the analogy of your brand as a person, only now they’re going on a date with a potential consumer. When your company sits down for dinner, do you want it to come off as sloppy, ungroomed, and unprepared? No. Odds are you want every hair in place, every tooth shiny and white, every piece of clothing pressed, ready to make their date have the time of their life. Branding is like that, only every minute of every day, with millions of microinteractions.

2. How Consensus Shapes Interpretation

Think about some of the most significant brands out there, such as Apple, Google, and Levi’s. These businesses have garnered the respect of the masses, partially because of their products, but primarily due to how the general public clings to them. The more people you have following your brand, the more credibility it has. Remember when you were in high school? Odds are there were some trendsetters a lot of people looked up to (or at least tried to mimic). They created waves of popularity, and everyone latched on to the movement. These people often gained instant credibility based on the fact they were liked or trusted.

Molding Your Brand
The best part about branding is that you have complete control over it. You can portray the exact image you want and shape the way your brand is viewed. Your logo, your colors, your website, and your typography can build an unforgettable impression. From there, your marketing channel can grow consensus and establish credibility.

Brand Differentiation
As the concept of branding begins to perpetuate itself on a larger scale, the tools, systems, and approaches businesses use slowly become more formulaic. What was once exciting and new has become washed-out. Brands are starting to look more similar, and companies are ignoring trends. The harsh reality is that the shelf life of a trend has dropped significantly — what used to last years only hangs around for months now. The immediacy of information, combined with technological changes, has created a culture where businesses are finding it more difficult to deliver a “wow.”

Even though it’s difficult to make an impression, that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t try — just the opposite, in fact. In today’s business world, it’s imperative to separate yourself. Picture the crowd of brands as a pack of automatons from a sci-fi movie; they dress the same, speak the same, act the same, and look the same. In a world full of look-alikes, it’s essential to have your brand fight for individuality. It needs to be different and express itself in a way that isn’t robotic or plastic. What’s the best way to do this? Well, as cheesy as it sounds, be yourself.

The most authentic way to create a brand that is different is to mold an interpretation that directly reflects your business’s core values. If your company is a person, you need to find out who that person is. When push comes to shove, our brands are unique individuals, and they should be celebrated.