Our guest blog this week comes from Paul Marcucilli at Riser, a branding and packaging design studio. Paul and his team focus on bringing game-changing design to deserving brands.
How do you stand out as a brand and get people interested in what you’re selling? With so many players on the field, it’s not an easy task. And in today’s world, just getting someone’s attention can be a hurdle. So, for a company that wants to grow in its category, it’s not just a strategy, it’s a necessity. What the world doesn’t need is another “me too” brand. Because if you look the same, sound the same, and are offering something even remotely similar to your competitor, then there’s no reason for your customers to choose you over them. Here are three ways to make your brand standout and help you up your game to separate yourself from the pack...
Have a voice
One of the simplest ways to connect to your audience is to simply tell your story. Let them know your achievements and your struggles; what gets you up in the morning, but also what keeps you up at night. In case you haven’t heard, people are all about authenticity and transparency these days. That doesn’t mean you have to take “sleeping” selfies if that’s not you. But, you started your company for a reason, right? There’s already a story that led you to get here, and people REMEMBER stories. Are you a mom who started a business to help babies with food allergies? Did you start a bone broth company because it was what helped you heal your own body? People simply relate better to humans and emotions than they do amorphous things. And emotion, not products, is what wins over consumers.
Letting your personality shine through is a powerful way to connect with your audience. Consumers want to learn more about the people who make up their favorite brands. Who are you? What do you believe? Why are you doing what you’re doing? How did you get here? When you engage and educate your audience on bigger picture things, they’ll feel like they’re part of something bigger too.
In addition to looking for brands that foster emotional connection, consumers are seeking out brands that align with their own values. And they’re looking for brands to lead the way in discussing hot topics. But of course, these should be things you truly care about - ones you might discuss at the dinner table. If you get behind something purely from a self-serving standpoint, to grow your following, or to gain a competitive advantage, it’s likely your message will appear inauthentic and audiences today are quick to notice. But, when you share your story and knowledge with like-minded people, you give your audience even more reason to pay attention to what you’re doing.
Today, it’s easier than ever for brands to reveal who they are and what they stand for. Love it or hate it, social media is the best platform for brands to engage, educate, and raise awareness. Whether it be a social, cultural, environmental, or political view, or simply a firm belief in a particular lifestyle.
A good example is Henry Rose. After becoming a mom, the founder (who happens to be Michelle Pfiffer) became more aware of the toxic chemicals used in fragrances and couldn’t imagine exposing her children to that. She uses Instagram as a platform to further engage with her customers, taking them behind the scenes and sharing her interests, beliefs, and inspirations. Beyond standing for “radical transparency” when it comes to their ingredients, products, and process, Henry Rose is fully committed to environmental and social responsibility.
In short, when you tell your story, you connect with like-minded people. And this allows you to go beyond building just a great product - you build a community, which is key to making your brand stand out.
Look the part
Good design has never been more important to a business’s success. When you develop a unique look that speaks to who you are and why you’re different, it can be a really powerful tool. Design can help you stand out in the crowd, add value to your product, solve problems, and most importantly, connect to your consumer. If done right, design can help you dominate your category, significantly increasing sales and brand value. Cha-Ching!
I mean, how much trust would you have in a brand with a ClipArt logo? Probably not much. With consumers today facing an abundance of choices, design can be a game changer. When forced to choose between two or more things with similar benefits, people often select the one that is most attractive to them. This is because people perceive things that are beautiful as being better, even if they really aren’t.
So, your branding is more than just surface level visuals and pretty pictures. It’s a direct representation of who you are and how you want to be perceived. It’s an opportunity for you to convey why you’re different, and what makes you the best choice. And, since a customer’s overall feelings about a company’s aesthetics are directly transferred to the product or service itself, a well-executed brand design can mean the difference between a purchase or a pass. So, it’s important to get this right, because you only get to make a first impression once.
There are several ways to make your brand as visible and unique as possible. Design elements like color, fonts, and imagery can be used to evoke specific emotions in consumers’ minds and create associations with your brand. Unique packaging structures and shapes can create a distinct look in your category. Custom foils or metallics can be used to elevate a look and justify a premium price point.
Think Apple with their modern and minimal aesthetic or Tiffany & Co. with its identifiable blue color. Chances are that you can picture these brands in your head, and that’s because they last. That’s why one of the most valuable assets a company can own is a recognizable brand to make you stand out.
Stay the course
Consistency, consistency, consistency. Maintaining a consistent theme around your brand identity, your tone-of-voice, and your values, is key to building brand recognition. Because, over time, these become ingrained in the minds of your audience.
A sense of familiarity will instill trust in your brand, and even simple things like adhering to a specific pattern across all touch-points, speaking in the same tone, and discussing familiar topics help build brand recognition. A brand with inconsistent messaging and visuals just won’t resonate in today’s world. So it’s super important that every interaction your consumer has with your brand is a familiar one.
Considering there are so many elements that make up a brand, it can be hard to ensure consistency throughout without some guidance. Enter the brand guide. This is something you can refer back to to ensure everything you do is on-brand. It can include your mission statement, positioning, and the personality of the brand. It defines your brand elements and branding rules that your company should follow. It includes your brand's logo, color palette, fonts and how these should be used. It can even include graphic and photographic direction, recommended style, layout, and more. Whether you’re just starting out or evolving your brand, it can be very helpful.
A great example of a brand that is really owning its aesthetic and using it consistently to build brand awareness is Cappello’s. There’s no mistaking the modern black and white patterns of their packaging. But they really play these up in other touch-points, like Instagram. They’re also consistent in their tone-of-voice, their use of beautiful food photography, and their delicious recipe ideas. Everything is well considered and always on-brand. Follow suit with your own brand and the results will be a look and feel that is unmistakably you.
Before implementing any of these three ways to make your brand stand out, it is always best to have a sound strategy in place and understand your unique point-of-difference. Knowing this will help to focus your efforts around building these tailored experiences and help guide you in everything you do moving forward.
The key is to remember that a brand is the overall experience people have with your company. It’s the sum total of impressions - pictures, words, objects, experiences, and spaces all play a role in the way your brand is perceived.
Today, consumers have direct relationships with brands and expect them to be connected experiences. So it’s more important than ever to have a clear, relatable, and engaging message. And with consumers facing more and more choices everyday, brands need to be multidimensional. Doing so will help you to attract your ideal audience, connect with them on an emotional level, and keep them coming back for more.
In the end, the brands that have a voice, look the part, and stay the course will succeed.
After spending over a decade working with leading global brands, Paul and his partner teamed up to build their own small design company. Riser is a strategic branding & design studio that partners with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and do-good-businesses. It’s a place where small companies can afford game-changing design, and where deserving brands, the ones that are looking to bring wellness and happiness to the world, come to tell their story. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @riser.design on Instagram.