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The best brands are simple
September 19, 2016 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

branding, marketing, simple brands, brand, mindfire communications, lynn manternach

Editor's note: Today we are re-visiting an article we posted back in 2010. No - it's not because we're falling behind writing these lovely blog articles. It's because simplicity in branding is more important than ever. And it's been shown, again and again, that simple brands are more successful. Keep it simple, folks! Enjoy...

The best brands are simple. Simple to articulate. Simple to understand.

Simple brand ideas result in powerful and memorable branding that people immediately connect with. Those ideas have to make it clear that the brand is different and relevant to their needs.

Unfortunately, the process of getting to an easily articulated and easily understood brand that is both relevant for your consumers and authentic for your organization is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and focus to get to the essence of a brand.

Competition is stiff and the consumer’s attention span is short. Marketing and branding messages are literally everywhere, and consumers are constantly bombarded. That means you have to have something relevant to say, something consumers actually care about, and it has to be simple to understand.

Your brand is what consumers immediate think of when they hear or see your name. Brands are shortcuts people use to make purchasing decisions. Your brand is what consumers say it is, and they tend to simplify.

Developing a simple brand starts with understanding the shorthand your consumers have already attached to your brand. Is there a single concept or word consumers immediately connect with your brand? From their perspective, how is your brand different from your competitors’, if at all? And what makes your brand relevant to those who know your brand best?

The answers to these questions become the foundation of your brand-building efforts. Ultimately, branding is about the perceptions held by your customers and potential customers, so understanding how they have already simplified your brand is powerful information. The strongest brands are built on simple, compelling ideas that stand out from the clutter by signaling that they’re different and relevant.

The brand you ultimately develop is probably not a direct reflection of what you hear from consumers. It’s a refinement of consumer perceptions. It’s the essence of what makes your brand relevant and compelling, combined with your business strategy and your overall vision. All that, but simplified.

The process is not easy, but the end result is a brand that is simple for your organization to articulate and simple for consumers to understand.

It has to be simple because if you can’t articulate your brand clearly and simply, your employees aren’t going to be able to, and your consumers will never get it.

Employees are a critical part of this process. It’s easy to assume you can leap from the boardroom to the marketplace, and skip right over employees. But that would be a huge mistake. Your employees need to be involved because they have the potential to be one of the most important and most visible aspects of your brand.

You’ve taken the time to talk to consumers about your brand. Their brand perceptions are built on their experiences with your brand – and those experiences were brought to them by your employees. Regardless of whether you’re selling home health care services or packaged goods, employees play a critical role in the overall brand experience.

When an organization’s brand is simple and real, employees easily understand what their brand stands for. That’s important, because it’s their ability to demonstrate their understanding that brings the brand to life for your customers. If your brand is relevant and brought to life by employees, consumers will remember your brand and use it as a shortcut for their purchase decisions.

And your brand will be successful.

This article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

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