Friday, August 9, 2013

The 5 Top-Drawer Brand Tools You Can't Do Without

You, my friend, are a persona to me.

By persona, I mean an amalgam of the way you look, sound and behave. It's the part of you I have a relationship with.

Thanks to your persona, I recognize you when we pass on the street. I can tell your emails are really from you. I know you’re not going to like “Snakes on a Plane.”

my persona?
That persona is an external expression of the parts inside you—the parts I can’t see: the skeleton that shapes your body, for example, or the thoughts and feelings that rattle around your brain.

(Okay—end of preamble.)

A brand, as we’ve discussed, is a nothing more (or less) than a persona. And that brand persona (like a human persona) is shaped by what’s inside: the inner defines the outer.

Those inside parts of a brand, the tools that define its persona, can be found in the top drawer of our red brand toolbox. The drawer labeled (ahem) “strategic communications platform.”

These are the parts of the brand people don’t usually see (the way your liver, tibia and cerebral cortex thankfully stay out of public view). But the success of the brand depends on them completely.

I said success “depends on them completely,” in italics, no less. That means it’s really, really important, right? 

Yet I can’t tell you how often clients want to hurry past the internal stuff to get on to the external stuff. To the part people see—you know, the fun stuff.

As I have I said (and will say again and again), what’s inside determines what’s outside.

So what's in that top drawer? An array of tools, laid out in the order in which they are created. (That order is important, because one leads to the next.) And heeeeeeeere they are:
Your core values: Not a fluffy list of admirable qualities, but a real, differentiating handful of principles you’d die for (figuratively). 
Your mission: Most mission statements are completely useless. I’ll tell you why in a few posts from now, and why the best mission statement ever comes from science fiction. 
Your value proposition: It’s very simply a definition of what you do. But it’s rarely very simple to define. 
Your brand position: This is your differentiation, and achieving your business objectives depends on it. Really. 
Your brand architecture: Here is how the various pieces of your operation fit together, including the way they are named. In a way that works for the future.
Too often these tools are assigned to the board or a committee to hash out over a weekend retreat, were they deliberate and negotiate over white wine and crab cakes. Biiiig mistake!

I will say this once (and then I will say it again and again): Building a useful strategic communications platform is the hardest work of branding, and in the coming posts I will show you how it’s done right.

“Branding isn’t rocket science,” someone once said to me. “That’s true,” I replied. “It’s harder.”

Next time we’ll peek into the top drawer of two competing technology brands, Apple and HP, one of whom does branding right. Can you guess which one that is?

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