When you meet someone for the first time, you tend to get a feeling as to whether or not they are your type of person. Subconsciously, you collect a lot of information about them and process it in nanoseconds. You analyze their sense of style, body language, cleanliness, hairstyle, language, tone of voice, and overall personality and decide if you have any commonalities.
In general, if there are enough commonalities, you’ll like them, and you’ll be more open to an actual conversation. If that conversation is about a topic you both share a passionate interest in, you’ll likely hit it off with them. As humans, we’re subconsciously judgemental and dismissive.
We’re not consciously aware of these decisions, nor do we change how we make them based on whom or what we’re analyzing. We dismiss the majority of brands we see immediately because we analyze brands in the same swift subconscious way we do people. Arguably, even quicker given the market noise and the fact that we’re not bothered about hurting anyone’s feelings in the process.
These nanosecond judgments and dismissals are based, among other things, on a brand’s appearance, language, imagery, color, tone, and message. You may have some commonalities with your audience but their hyper-dismissive default means you’re getting ignored unless you work very hard not to be.
In this blog, I’ll explain what a brand can do to avoid being cut from consideration before you even have a chance to relate.
What Can Your Brand Do?
First, start with visual appeal. Your identity needs backup (and maybe even a makeover). Your brand needs visual representation to form a look and feel that resonates with your audience. If your visual identity consists of a logo and a couple of stock images, you’re getting dismissed.
Your brand identity, just like your individual identity, has many subtle nuances that shape its look and feel. Your logo, image style, typography, color palette, and graphic elements individually have their own characteristics. Working together as a system, however, they can create a look and feel as individual as any person.
Even if your marketing strategy is highly specific in it’s targeting, your identity needs to appeal to who your audience is, and as importantly, who they aspire to be. If potential customers glance your way and see themselves in your brand, you have just succeeded where the 3,000 brands that came before you on any given day have failed.
Competing for Brand Airtime
Once you have succeeded in grabbing some brief attention, you’re in a race against the clock. Whether your visual impact has won someone’s attention on your website, your social media account or your brochure, your collateral needs to instantly connect.
This is where nine out of 10 brands become another dismissed statistic. You only have a matter of seconds to resonate and most use this time to talk about themselves, which is the equivalent of a “so… what do you think of my guns?” pick-up line. If you have a someone’s attention, you have bypassed their subconscious filter, but they’re not interested in you yet. They’re interested only in commonalities, and you must be laser-focused on highlighting that you have some.
Their Problem=Your Solution
The commonality that your brand needs to highlight in those few seconds of attention is ALWAYS the problem they have that you can solve. When your audience hears a reference to the problem that they have, there’s instantly a sense of commonality, and their immediate thought is “That’s me, I recognize that problem because it’s my problem.”
In appealing to who they are visually and understanding them through their problem, your commonalities become obvious. Their fleeting attention becomes focused attention, and you have put your brand front and center for consideration.
Step Aside and Let Your Competition Scream
Market noise is loudest in the center. This is where all brands start out, shouting as loud as they possibly can, all looking and sounding like a version of each other. The further you push back from that center and distance yourself from the screaming pack, the less likely you are to be instantly dismissed.
The presentation and communication of your current brand will determine how close or far you are from the middle. Regardless, you should do everything you can to put as much distance between it and your brand. Do you need a re-brand? Maybe, maybe not. If you already have an identity that has a look and feel and your communication is tuned in to who your audience is, then making a few simple adjustments can give you some more breathing space from the pack.
Here are some tips to stand out from the crowd:
Understand who your audience is, but also who they aspire to be, and tune your solution story accordingly.
Trade in your stock images for shots that appeal to that aspiration and paint a picture of achievement. Keep in mind that this needs to be related to your solution, a picture of life after an aspiration-fulfilling purchase.
Identify the pain points that your audience has in relation to the problem you solve.
Ask some simple questions around these pain points that will get to the core of your customer’s problems. The goal here is to extract the frustration and emotion they carry that is associated with the problem.
Show understanding and empathy around those pain points. If you solve the problem, then you’ve seen these pain point before.
Conclusion? Keep it Simple
Now, if you’re thinking “Come on, it’s not that simple,” I can understand. Branding and the strategies that go with it can be intricate depending on the business, but at the core, branding is about simplification. As complex as we are as people, we’re still primitive. If we have a problem, we want to solve it. When we feel understood, we open up. Our filters for brands have kicked into overdrive, largely to protect our sanity. Brands that appeal to the primitive nature of their audience and understand their subconscious filters stand apart. With a clear point of view, you can help your audience instinctively know, “That’s my kind of brand.”
What brands are “your kind of brand?” How might you implement these tips with your own brand?