Sunday, September 16, 2012

Your Brand, Your Self...Do You Know Your Values?

Normally when launching a brand, the first step is determining what exactly you're offering the consumer in exchange for their time.

Get your minds out of the gutter, I didn't go through all this trouble to blog about prostitution...although I'm sure if you're in the trade of the flesh, these tips will also come in handy....hey, we can't all be executives, right?

But no, what we ultimately start with is a variation on the old question of "what kind of person do you want to be?" That is to say, what do you want your brand to convey and ultimately attract?

The most obvious answer is the right consumer, but as any quick Facebook page glance confirms, that varies wildly from one person to another. That in itself is the most pure basis for ensuring that your brand is successful. Ultimately, we all hope you choose to have "good" values, but that's not important.

What IS important to any brand's success is that any & all values conveyed be genuine. The moment you try conveying you're about something that you couldn't care less about, you'll be seen as a fraud with zero credibility.

A good example of a brand that doesn't try to be more than the sum or its parts, is Ford. For years, Ford has portrayed themselves as being about the American spirit and keeping that alive. If tomorrow they started a campaign showing themselves to be an international company looking to make constant changes, it wouldn't just ring false but smack of a company trying to play in an arena where it not only can't compete, but doesn't even know what equipment to use. It doesn't matter if the brand IS international and tech minded, it can't just starting billing itself that way out of the blue.

On the other hand there's the infamously failed experiment of New Coke. The Coca-Cola brand has spent so much time establishing itself as timeless & nostalgic that the mere concept of "new & improved" was far off the mark. Coca-cola isn't about the now, but the then. Again, not to say it can't focus on the now, but it's about creating memories & NOT living for now. Plus, if a product that old is all of a sudden improved, the mind almost instantly wonders, "what the hell were we drinking before?"

Such is the perspective to have about our own brands. Not all of us can be humorous or stylish, but why not embrace your traits if you are indeed a bit serious or conservative? While not traditionally desired, keep this in mind, those are just traits, not values.

When thinking about values it's imperative to move one step beyond an adjective. It's not enough to say your value is "humor," that's just a description that can be plopped onto just about anything. Take it further, perhaps your true brand value is the ability to find the funny in otherwise humdrum moments or instead of being "serious," your value is providing stability.

These aren't easy to pinpoint nor should be done in some slap dash attempt to "find yourself." It's just the first step in defining your brand and what that means in hopes of finding the right consumer. Don't worry we'll go into all of this in the coming entries, but continuing this odd experiment brings me to my next entry.

For my next entry (and moving forward with all subsequent ones), I will offer myself up on each point I cover in the hopes it helps solidify them with concrete examples. Not to say that I'm a success story, after all my tales not yet done. But feel free to leave your thoughts on what you think those values will be, might be fun to see if they synch up with the current public perception.

And if not, then hell we can all just have a laugh at the one-man play that is my life. :-)

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