Who is your Brand in a word
By Robin Albin, INSURGENTS, Founder, Brand Strategist & Sherpa
The world is filled with words.
There are wise words. Buzzwords. Kind words.
And famous last words.
Words can incite anger. Ignite passion. Hurt, humiliate, heal or help.
Today, I’d like you to consider another kind of word.
Your word is your promise. Your pledge. Your sacred vow.
As in “You have my word” – derived from the Chivalric Code of moral conduct and personal integrity observed by medieval knighthood.
It means “You can count on me.” “I will keep my word.”
Whether you are DTC, B2C, B2B or personal brand, few things are as important as your brand’s word.
Your word is your North Star.
A beacon to everyone who comes in contact with you – internally and externally.
It builds trust, loyalty and understanding.
One word can focus and anchor all of your initiatives.
Protect you from making bad decisions.
Positioning pioneer Al Ries wrote: “A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer.”
Advertising legend, Lord Maurice Saatchi called it One-Word Brand Equity. Its goal is to define your brand’s overarching strategic thought in a single word.
Express the one characteristic you want your brand to instantly be associated with around the world.
“When a company owns one precise thought in the consumer’s mind, it sets the context for everything and there should be no distinction between brand, product, service and experience.”
Think of the strongest brands, you’ll recognize their one word instantly.
Google = Search.
Nike = Inspiration.
Harley Davidson = Freedom.
AirBnB = Belonging
Whatever your politics, you can’t think of the word Hope without thinking Barack Obama.
Pretty powerful. And with thousands of words in the English language – no small feat.
It requires applying brutal simplicity.
Lord Saatchi wrote: “Take great care before you pick your word. It is going to be the god of your brand.’ So how do you find your word?
- Be Inspiring. Your word should matter to your audience so that it forms a deep attachment with them. What is your audience craving that no other brand can deliver?
- Be Lived – When we created the Origins Brand for Estée Lauder, we recognized that the beauty industry often belittled the consumer. Our promise was Respect. And while the word Respect never appeared in any communications, we brought it to life in every aspect of the brand from ingredients (Opting for natural vs. harsh and questionable ingredients to show Respect for our consumer’s skin) to our service model (Respect for our consumer’s intelligence meant we empowered our audience with the information they needed to make a thoughtful decision) to our pricing (Respect for our consumer’s pocketbook made Origins affordable) to Respect for the environment (By not overpackaging and offering the first of its kind recycling program).
- Be timeless, not trendy. For example, while the circumstances and context may change, words like Respect, Belonging and Inspiration will always be valuable and relevant.
Once you have your word, own it. And never deviate from it.
For instance, Volvo’s one word promise is Safety. And since the 1940’s everything they do has been dedicated to it. From creating 2 and then 3-point seat belts. To inventing rearward-facing child safety seat.
So, forget your long-winded brief. The yada, yada, yada. And blah, blah, blah.
Forget the catchy tag line.
Your pithy, well-crafted 30 second elevator speech. For now, anyway.
Today, people have the average attention span of just 8.25 – less than a goldfish.
And when the battle for attention is intensified: ‘Simplicity travels lighter, travels faster and is easier for us to recall,” said Saatchi.
Find your word early in the life of your brand.
Make it your promise. Your sacred word of honor.
Keep your word and you’ll create a strong, lasting bond with your audience.
But remember, break your word. Fail to deliver on it. And your brand is screwed.
You have my word on that.
© Robin Albin LLC, d.b.a. Insurgents.
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