I am spending the week on spring break with my family being analog. FoG is being populated for the most part by a series of guest posts. The first is from Ron Huey of Huey Partners, a full-service advertising agency.
Entrepreneurs are inventors by nature. They, most often, have a clear, concise vision of the product or service they want to create. Where that vision can become a bit fuzzy is in defining the overall brand their product or service must live under.
Your brand is a living, breathing entity with its own personality and style. That brand persona is the critical entry point to your product or service. In fact, potential customers will form ideas and perceptions about your brand before they ever experience your product. I like to use the analogy of meeting someone at a cocktail party. Is your brand someone people are attracted to? Do they enjoy conversing with you? Do they walk away feeling that you’re smart, engaging, considerate and empathetic? Do they become an advocate, or better yet, an evangelist for your brand?
Conversely, we’ve all met the guy at the cocktail party who, while smart, can’t seem to talk about anyone but himself and his accomplishments. And while he may have very valuable information to impart, we’re not really in the mood to listen and walk away seeing him as an off-putting, self-centered, know-it-all. No sale there.
My firm was fortunate to work with MindSpring when they were moving from a regional ISP to a national provider. At the time, their advertising consisted of a cartoonish drawing of a man whose spring-loaded head was popping off his shoulders. It was an arresting visual, but the wackiness and crude, haphazard approach of the ad seemed to undermine the credibility and trust MindSpring hoped to instill.
We needed to create a brand persona for MindSpring that captured their quirky, non-corporate culture, but also positioned them as credible, reliable and sympathetic to the plight and needs of the internet user. The brand needed to come off as a friend who was there to help.
Another key to creating a successful brand image for MindSpring was the concept of simplicity. Simplicity can’t be stressed enough and its value has been covered in this blog in relation to the brand identity and brand promise. We used MindSpring’s iconic blue and yellow colors, but kept our thoughts and graphics incredibly simple.
Regardless of how amazing your product or service may be, remember that your brand image is the crucial entry point. If prospects are intrigued and attracted to your brand, you have a much greater chance of inducing trial and ultimately selling them on your product or service.