Trained by countless hours of surfing and swiping, today’s consumers have the upper hand. There’s a waiting list for their attention, and only the brands that take the time to get things right will stand out from the pack. It’s easier than ever to put an idea into motion in our quick-paced global marketplace. As a result, many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that by simply hanging up their shingle, throngs of (inevitably loyal and enthusiastic) customers will flock to their brand. Putting yourself out there without proper preparation can have the opposite effect.
For the past 15 years I’ve been consulting with brands of all shapes and sizes and I've seen many do it right — and plenty miss the mark. In order to help more entrepreneurs build beautiful, successful brands, I founded Poolside. We collaborate with entrepreneurs on everything they need to get their idea off the ground.
Whether you’re ready to launch (or relaunch) your brand, here are four strategies to make sure your brand captures the attention — and attraction — you want.
1) Define your brand’s personality. Like most aspects of brand-building, defining your personality is all about the details. Brands that cast a wide, vague net will end up with a splintered audience that is difficult to communicate with (too many messages to too many different customers) and doesn’t have a strong attachment to your business which means they could be swept up by someone else’s messaging in a hot second.
None of us can be everything to everyone, so be specific about your brand’s traits. Determine what they are, then be sure they are reflected in all aspects of communication, from social media to publicity. If you’re the cool, custom surfboard creator in Kauai, your brand’s language may be casual and easygoing, your photography rich, Instagram-like and candid. However, if you’re the sophisticated-yet-approachable vegan baker in Portland, you may blend a more formal language style with handwritten signage and clever flavor names.
For example, the team at Disrupt Magazine, a digital publication that caters to the “ruthless visionaries” of global social innovation, does a great job of communicating the brand’s personality on the homepage and throughout the site. The use of slightly aggressive yet tongue-in-cheek language coupled with strong all caps fonts and bold, high-contrast imagery sets a very clear and consistent tone.
If you’re clear, your audience knows where you stand and whether or not they want to be on your team. If they feel a kinship to your brand and also love your product, your customers will be more loyal because there is a personal connection beyond the transaction. Clarity and follow-through build trust, which equals loyalty.
2) Tell us what makes you stand out from the rest. We’ve all encountered brands we’re attracted to but aren’t quite sure what they’re offering. Confusion equals loss of attention. At Poolside, we often work with entrepreneurs who get hung up on the issue of clarity. People are hesitant to get ultra specific for fear of scaring potential customers away, but getting clear and focused is a good thing. No matter how varied your company’s potential offerings, it’s important to clarify what makes you different from the rest, whether it’s your purpose, offering, how you do business or even your location. Work your originality.
Online lingerie company True&Co. is a great example of a brand that is using a clear, clever approach in order to stand out in a very saturated (and thriving) industry. Unlike their competitors, customers can try on True&Co.’s boutique-style lingerie at home before purchasing, for no additional fee, Warby Parker-style. On its site, the company makes this distinction crystal clear, which helps differentiate it from others in the industry that may offer equally beautiful products. Clarity of purpose opens the door to more interest, not less.