My friends and I like to play a fun little game from time to time. Periodically one friend sends an anonymous gift to another, then leaving the recipient to guess who the identity of their “Secret Santa.” It’s essentially a gratitude scavenger hunt of sorts. After the gift arrives, the receiver spends days trying to pinpoint who has generously given. Most turn to social media to enhance their investigation. Some givers are strong-willed and never reveal their identity, while others cave to the pressure and reveal themselves quite easily.
It is no secret that I am a Nick Westergaard fan. One day, I was on the receiving end of the anonymous gift and was presently surprised to unwrap his new book, Brand Now. I was so intent on trying to find out the identity of the giver that I even contacted Amazon (where the gift was sent from) and the customer service representative emphatically told me numerous times (very politely, I might add) that sharing the sender information was a privacy issue and there was no way she was going to tell me who sent it or even offer a hint. She just said, please enjoy your gift (admittedly several times — she was very patient). I still haven’t figured out who gave me the gift, but I can tell you that I have enjoyed his book for so many reasons.
Nick not only talks about a topic I am quite passionate about, but our theories and ideas align on so many levels. It is like we were separated at birth (I might be going too far, I know… I told you I am a fan… it’s all in good fun until someone sounds like a stalker) I digress. In chapter 2 he says, “Strong brands start with a spark.” ? I love this statement (and not just for the obvious sparky reason). The spark he describes is the very same spark we describe in our Epiphany brand promise: Everyone has a spark and we want to be part of your brand trust team and help ignite it.
I wanted to share the brand love, so here are a few key points from Nick’s book that I think will spark your interest (pun intended):
- People are searching for the meaning of life in everything. If you are building a brand that stands for something, let us help you tell your story. What are you winning at? Where are you being stretched? BTW, we would love to chat with you about it over a hot beverage.
- Your brand is not your logo, your colors or the tagline… Your brand is what you stand for. Why should someone care more about your brand? Your story must be told and when it is your fans will connect with it and support it. Today when brands break their promise it doesn’t happen quietly, online reviews and social media have seen to that. Have a plan in place for times when you fall short. You can’t just blame the customer or your employee. You can no longer afford to pretend it didn’t happen and just ignore the reviews. An actionable plan that makes it right and brings the focus back to what your brand is and what it stands for is imperative.
- Brands can’t be static. They have to move. Leveraging word of mouth on and offline. Basic brand building still applies. Your brand must stand out and stand for something or, as the famous song goes, you’ll fall for anything. Authentic brands stand out. Create a cohesive brand experience on and offline.
- Finding your personal purpose in life is sometimes challenging, and identifying your brand’s purpose is no different. If your brand isn’t working, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need a new logo. It might mean that you aren’t clearly communicating your brand, you aren’t showing your authentic brand across all experiences or perhaps your messaging isn’t reaching the right audience.
- Your audience will tell you what they want and what your brand is to them — if you just listen. Sit on the other side, in the audience, to understand if you are meeting their needs. Maybe all you need is a slight shift. For example, you may think think of your customers as dog owners, whereas they consider themselves to be dog parents. On the surface, a slight difference, but in reality, it makes a huge impact on the way you communicate with your customers.
- Authenticity matters more than ever before. Empower your customers — don’t just sell them crap. What is your brand’s spark? Remember, it isn’t just about what you do but what you stand for and why. What is your story? What is your purpose?
- There is no much noise, you have to reach your customer with content that means something — speaks to them. If you are in charge of writing the content, it needs to be something you care about too. Sometimes there’s just way too much content. Weeding through it becomes more of a chore and hurts you more than it helps you. Your customer can’t get to the point of what you are trying to share in a field of weeds.
- “Surround yourself with the right people.” While Nick might not be talking directly to me, he is talking to each and everyone of you. If everytime you hear or see something that sparks ideas, you are excited but overwhelmed as to how to get there, just let us know. It is our mission to come along side you and guide your spark to help you get to where you want to go.
The second half of the book is where you will find the Brand Now Toolbox for the modern day brander. No matter your title, you will find the toolbox full of ideas to spark your brand. As we enter the holiday season, you may find yourself with a free moment or two to recharge, if so, I highly recommend taking some time to pick up a copy of Brand Now or listening to the podcast. Nick also has an online community at Brandnowbook.com. Oh, and if you happen to know who gifted me a copy of the book, I would love to know so I can say thank you.