As an author, I’d love to think that my novels –the stories, the characters — are all I need to provide the world. Novel published. Brand established. Boom. Mic Drop.
As a marketing professional, I know that isn’t true. (Damn this day job, anyway.)
There’s a great article on Entrepreneur that talks about this very thing (and coffee. Talking about coffee is always a plus in my book.)
Products perform a function. Brands offer an emotion.
Products do perform a function, and this is no different for a creative professional. Your book provides reading material. Your art provides something to go on the wall. Your photography takes stock of important moments in people’s lives.
Your art connects to your audience and pulls an emotional response from them. We feel it when we look at photography, art, when we read a book… We feel.
So how could a brand NOT be about the art itself? If brand is emotion, and our work evokes those emotions…
It’s a good question. Glad I asked it.
Yes, it’s your work that evokes emotions, and it’s your brand that moves your customers to act on those emotions.
You need more than your work to position your company (and authors, you are your company) in the minds of your potential clients and customers and build their trust.
Let’s lead with an example.
Wait, this is a shoe. This isn’t art.
No? Say that to the shoe designer. Or to the runner who selects the shoe based on how it makes them feel while they run.
I know, a little tricky, but I think you get my point, right? Your work evokes emotion when someone interacts with it, just as this product does. Just as my favorite brand of ice cream does. (Baskin Robbins. Yum.)
This is a great tennis shoe. It looks comfy. Sturdy. Nice.
Now tell me what company made it. Or where you can find it. Or how to purchase it.
You can’t just by a 2 dimensional image of the product. (Unless you are the Imelda Marcos of tennis shoes. There are always exceptions.)
To the shoe designer, it’s incredibly unique– and yet, the product itself fits within a bucket (or genre) that other products inhabit.
Once people know your work and know it well, they will recognize the differences that makes you stand out from everyone else. But super fans aside, when you’re looking to gain that fanbase, you need a clear, identifiable way that lets the rest of the world know, “THIS IS ME” every single time.
That is what a brand does. Your work will pull that visceral emotional connection in them. But your brand will help them trust that emotional connection and trust you.
Which comes first? The brand or the trust?
So, how about if I show you that same tennis shoe above, but with the logo of the company who made that tennis shoe?
How do you feel about that shoe now?
What changed inside?
What emotion do you associate with the Nike logo?
What elements do you now believe about that shoe, without ever putting it on your foot?
Where can you buy it? How much will you spend? Is it worth it?
How powerful is that? You don’t have to even interact with the product in any other way than seeing who made it to know how you feel about that company and that product. A well-positioned brand will do that. It will ensure that every time your audience sees your work, that same emotional pull is repeated inside them. It’s a visceral, physical thing. If you love something, you feel that burst of pleasure inside and that smile cross your lips. If you don’t trust them or aren’t sure about them, your gut tenses up and your body pauses as it decides if this is fight-or-flight time.
Test the theory yourself. Think of a brand you love. Me? Starbucks. My hands reach for my wallet just saying the name.
Now think of a brand you hate. Feel that gut pull in a little tighter? That upper lip curve just a little?
Our bodies tell us what we trust and what we don’t. That visceral reaction is something you can build within your audience.
4 Ways To Go Beyond Your Work
Your brand is all about trust. Your customers need to trust in not only the products you offer, but in you. Gaining trust in your clients is the same with any relationship you have, and it is the heart of building a brand. It’s about consistency, it’s about promise, and it’s about how they feel when they connect with you. Those are three things you can control. So how do you build that trust?
Here are four simple things to focus on that help you build your work into a brand that that builds trust:
- Speak their language. Your art can speak for itself, but you have to speak to your customers. Understand who they are, how they look at what you offer, so you are talking with them, not at them. (Find the terminology they understand.)
- Make sure that every interaction you have with your customers is consistent. (Your voice, your colors, your look and that matches all modes of communication.)
- Only promise what you can deliver on, every time (see item 2).
- Understand how you need and want your customers to feel about you. What emotional need does your product or service fulfill for them? Make sure you solve that need in your interactions. (In the way they understand it, while staying consistent and promising ONLY what you can deliver on.)
Those four core elements are what good marketing is about. It’s what helps make the difference between a company with loyal customers and a company who will lose those customers to the next great company who offers what they offer. Test every communication with your audience against the above points.
Now go be a brand. You can do this!
Photo credit by jill111 on pixabay | This post was highly edited, red lined, altered and rewritten from a post I published originally on The Theater of Marketing.