Which is worse: nobody knows your brand exists or nobody likes your brand?
I would argue it’s better to have a brand people know but don’t like than one they don’t even know about.
I went to get my passport photo taken at a drugstore recently and it was a pretty terrible experience. I had to return the photos, ask for a refund, and go to a second location to have them done right. As inconvenient brand experiences go, this was pretty much textbook what you don’t want to do.
But, the next time I need passport photos taken — assuming passports won’t be handled by the chip we’ll have embedded in our arms that controls where our driverless cars go — I’ll probably wind up there again. (Of course, I’ll have more realistic expectations and the knowledge that, despite what the manager says, you have to take your glasses off for the photo.)
And that’s my point: even if I don’t like a brand, there’s still a chance I’m going to interact with it (often because I have to — do you *like* your cable company?). But if I don’t know or remember that it exists at all, I’m never even finding out whether the experience is amazing or terrible.
How To Be Memorable
How do you show that you think differently, act differently, and carry yourself differently than your competitors? Memorable is found not only in what you do but in who you are. This is where personality comes in. You wouldn’t produce the results or make the product or provide the service you do without that. You wouldn’t be the brand you’ve built. So let’s unearth whatever that personality is and figure out how to use it.
Fortunately, it’s not super difficult to have a personality, right? Just stand for something — literally anything! The president of Iceland is in the news right now backtracking on sarcastic comments he made about wanting to outlaw pineapple as a topping on pizza, though, so don’t be wishy-washy about it. (“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what'll you fall for?”)
But, you might be thinking, a person showing personality is a bit different — and easier - than a brand showing personality. That’s fair. But it’s not too different.
Start with your values.
There are 15 people in our office and we all have different backgrounds, favorite tv shows, sports teams, etc. That’s good, because our business works better when there are a bunch of people with different perspectives working together. We all keep coming back to the office day after day for some reason or another. So we polled everyone and the reasons we have in common form the basis of our values:
Now we’re gettin’ somewhere. “We believe…” is a great jumping off point for finding your brand’s personality.
Other Ways To Be Memorable
Have an opinion
If you’re just sharing super obvious, innocuous thoughts, you’re not really impacting anyone. Don’t be offensive if it doesn’t fit your brand, but take a side.
Every time you open LinkedIn, you see people sharing incredibly harmless opinions. Generally, any post that starts with, “I know this won’t be popular but…” leads to one of those obvious statements that everybody agrees with. Like, “I know this won’t be popular, but I think managers should listen more than they speak” or something. Congratulations. You just shared an opinion that nobody would ever disagree with (publicly…), which basically makes it not an opinion.
Be human. A lot of the time, your content is going to be displayed next to your company’s logo. It should still sound like a human being wrote it.
When the Cotton Bureau (hello, Pittsburghers! We’re new to your town, but we’re excited to be joining you!) started its own t-shirt manufacturing brand, Blank, they announced it with a blog post. The first line of the post was this:
Well, now I’m paying attention. Tell me more. | Source
It was written with a human voice, in a human way, and that appeals to me as a human. Much better than a press release with fake enthusiasm and cherry-picked quotes about profit margins and new market strategies.
Don’t be forgettable
If you’re not memorable, you’re forgettable. Give people a reason to remember you.
This sounds super obvious and I almost didn’t include it, but it’s important: the downside of not being memorable isn’t being neutral, it’s being forgettable. It’s not being someone’s second or third choice, it’s them not even considering you. For example: every passport photo provider I didn’t try in the story above. I would have loved to have had a second or third choice.
Consistency over time, over platforms
It’s hard enough to stand out, but if you’re trying to say too many things or be everything to everyone, it’s even harder. Be one thing and give your customer something to latch on to.
Geico, a client of ours, has been so consistently on-message for the past 15 years with it’s “15 minutes could save you 15 percent” campaign that they don’t even say it anymore. Through an astounding number of TV and interactive campaigns, the message has always been about how easy it is to save with Geico, and it’s made them one of the largest insurers in the country.
Aim beyond Apple
It’s the most valuable brand on the planet and it consistently ranks at the top of “most loved”/“most trusted” lists, which is great. For them.
You should absolutely strive for results like Apple’s. But don’t try to *be* like them. Their brand works for their offering and their situation, but it probably won’t work for you. Others have tried and it always feels like they’re trying to be something they’re not. It’s inauthentic and, although the intentions are generally good, it’s kinda lazy. It’s certainly not memorable. How can your brand be more trustworthy? How can your brand offer better customer service? How can you deliver consistent experiences?
Show & tell
Writing has a voice. So does design. Make sure your identity is coming through all of the different facets of your brand.
We saved this one for last because it’s our favorite. Also, because we think we have the perfect example: our homepage. Not only do we say the right things (we think?), we make it clear before you’ve even read anything that you’re in for a memorable experience.