Branding a product or company thrives on consistency in your message. How many people remember the old Dunkin Donuts commercial with the man saying it was “time to make the donuts;” or when you see the golden arches you know it is a McDonald’s long before you actually get to the restaurant?
Our brains are subconsciously trained over time to remember messages, take them in and file them away. We all know a red and white can is a Coke; just like we know “i” before a product name is almost always an Apple-branded product. These messages are in our brains and we understand them based on recognition, values, cognition and consistency.
Whether or not you like Donald Trump, he is ultimately one of the most successful billionaires walking the planet today. He has grown a multitude of businesses, failed and triumphed again. Mr. Trump is everywhere and has significant business acumen. I think it is fair to say that he is a branding genius. When asked about branding, Donald Trump said that, “if your business is not a brand it is a commodity.” This is, in fact, the truth. However, what Mr. Trump left out is that the only way to make a business a brand, and not a commodity, is to have a clear, consistent message that resonates.
While each product or service an organization offers will have a different message; it is the underlying messaging that must be consistent to reach the pinnacle of success. Your message is your voice; while, at the same time, your voice must tout your message.
Understanding why your message is so important, helping an organization create, and ultimately transmit, a strong, solid message is what professional public relations professionals do. The majority of organizations want to claim that either they – or their products – are socially responsible. For some that is marketing and for others that is the basis of their very foundation. Having a brand trusted as a socially responsible leader in business does not happen merely by creating new marketing and advertising pieces. It takes a significant amount of vision, effort, and most importantly, the understanding of your customer’s core values, to find and create a message that is in check with them. It is truly an evolving process, rooted in the understanding of both your core values as well as those of your target market.
Once you truly understand your core values, as well as those of your customers, it is time to sit down and brainstorm, not about a sales strategy, but about how to make your message resonate with those you are trying to reach. It is important at this juncture to think about the biases of the publics you want to reach, as well as to look into the future. Where are you headed as an organization? What products are on your future docket? Where is your industry headed as whole? Being at the forefront of the message will help your message – and your branding achieve long-term visibility. Now, I am not suggesting that an organization disclose everything in the pipeline; what I am saying is that your message needs to be modern enough to have a longer lifespan, yet tailored enough to fit the specifics of what you do today.
A great message evokes three key components of business: listening, learning, and translating. In other words, a great message demonstrates an organization has listened to the market; it has learned from the market, as well as from competitors. Finally, a great message translates this into reality through their message. According to the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are authentic.” In other words, they have listened to the market; they have learned from the market; and they have a strong foundation based on truth and authenticity.
An organization’s message is far more than words on a computer screen. It is what every employee and customer says about a company. It starts with the leadership and flows all the way to the man on the street. It is about everything that is said and done and that is how a brand, and a strong message, is built. It is about the human spirit. When people believe they share values with a brand or an organization, for that matter, they remain engaged with that brand; they make a point to watch for more from that company. That, my friends, is the secret sauce to making consistency in your message your best friend.