You care about your brand. In fact, you care about it a lot more than most people do. And that’s a good thing, but it can mean that you’re also too close to it. You live and breathe your company’s product, mission and culture for 24 hours a day, seven days a week because you believe in it.
But...your customers spend maybe a few minutes a day with your product, and they’re the reason you have a brand in the first place. They’re the ones who are changing their comfortable routine to try something new. The truth is that you will always spend more time with your brand than your customers will. This is a necessary perspective to maintain across every single moment and decision throughout your workday.
Interacting with a brand is like walking through a stranger’s front door. You notice the welcome mat and the main room. Maybe you notice those carefully chosen couch pillows and maybe you don’t. You know what you definitely don’t notice? The foundation. Or the pipes behind the wall.
But even though you aren’t actively noticing these things (and many, many others), you’re undoubtedly experiencing all of them because the truth is that your brand isn’t just a logo. It’s not just a font. It’s not just a tagline or a mantra or a product or an audience. It’s all of those things and everything else, from your placement on the grocery shelf to your social media profile and even who your competitors are. It’s the blueprint and the nails, the plumbing and the plaster. Most importantly, it all has to work together, be cohesive and feel effortless/authentic. Just as much as a broken water pipe would be hard to ignore, your audience will instantly pick up on the inconsistencies of a brand.
If you imagine your product as a happy and healthy family, your brand is the entirety of the home it inhabits—not just the wallpaper. Customer benefit plus communication equals perception.
Your brand is the combination of the product, how it’s communicated and ultimately how it is perceived. It’s the intersection of a three-way Venn diagram—a tiny bullseye of impact, sustainability and loyalty you have to nail in order to move your product forward and promote your customers from believers to ambassadors. By understanding that your brand "starts" existing at the moment the first person knows about it (not months or years down the line), you’ll grow more effectively and effortlessly to create a customer experience worth living and loving—with a solid foundation and matching wallpaper to boot.
Sergey and Sandi Grigoryan are partners at TNKR, a company of problem solvers passionate about strategy, branding experience, and graphic design.