How consistent is your brand?
If you would have asked me that a few months ago, I would have said “pretty consistent!” I mean, we used the same logo and the same colors on all of our branded materials. I thought that was good enough for consistent branding.
That all changed when Art Director Kristin joined the team, and threw down the hammer.
She pointed out “You’re using fashion words to describe your packages and imagery of a mountain on your website. What exactly is your marketing theme?”
Um. Not sure.
I don’t know if a marketing theme is a common term in the marketing world, but it started to make a lot of sense to me. Our brand wasn’t just our logo and colors. Our brand encompasses what imagery we use, what feeling we create, and our word choice.
It sounded like Kristin had found herself one of her first and biggest projects: help 11Web find a marketing theme and use it to strengthen our brand.
Rather than diving right into ideas, Kristin wanted to get feedback from the team and work on ideas together.
First, she sent me a questionnaire to ask me what 11Web meant and what we stood for. (And as a side note, this reignited my work on our core values, which had been in a rough draft for a while.)
Then, she called us all together for a group brainstorming session. As a remote team, we did this by Google Hangouts video chat from three different locations.
We did an exercise that asked us to shout out as many ideas as we could in one minute, with no judgment. We did another exercise that asked us to imagine how someone famous would run 11Web.
Sometimes, the exercises seemed far fetched. One question asked: “If 11Web were a restaurant, what would it look like?” Weird, right?
But our answers to that question were surprisingly useful.
An 11Web restaurant wouldn’t be a fancy fine-dining restaurant. We’re more like that friendly lunch place that delivers seriously great food without a lot of fuss. Our restaurant space would be bright and clean inside. The décor would be trendy and modern but welcoming. Our staff would be known for their big smiles and helpful attitudes.
When we thought about it outside our own context, it was actually easier to determine who we are.
We also spent some time talking about what we loved, and what represented our culture. Freedom, adventure, travel.
After an hour of great discussion, Kristin prepared a document of ideas and findings.
From there, Kristin and I started discussing the concept of “themes.” We had a much better understanding of 11Web as a company. Now we had to translate it into a marketing message.
What was going to be our consistent imagery? The overall thing that made all of our marketing materials unmistakably 11Web?
Did we want to use computers and technology terms? I said no to that one. We’re about being approachable, not overly technical. Pictures of computers seemed too literal and overdone for a web company. Most importantly, I wanted to create a feeling with the brand, and computers don’t do that.
Instead, we started talking about the concept of a “journey.” Marketing is a journey. Life as a remote team involves adventure and travel. We could easily incorporate messaging about being a guide in a “business journey.” It really felt right.
It was decided. Our marketing theme would be around the journey.
Here were the results of our new marketing theme:
Website Packages got a facelift
We changed our package names to words that represented a mountain climbing journey: Base, Ascent, and Summit. Kristin re-designed our package pricing sheet with adventurous photography.
New Social Media Images
Kristin created a variety of social media cover photos with different travel-type imagery: hiking, bicycles, kayaks. These would carry our theme across to Facebook and Twitter.
Updated website tagline
We wanted to incorporate the word “journey” into our tagline at the top of the site.
After coming up with a lot of ideas, we landed on “Your Marketing Journey Starts Here.”
11Web website redesign
A website redesign is in the works. While our current site does use a big mountain image, Kristin wanted to deeply integrate the theme into each aspect of the site.
The new website will feature photography at the top of each page, and it will have fun touches like showing the team on some of our own journeys.
Let’s learn something
I tell this story because I think it teaches a few excellent lessons.
Lesson 1: Your Brand is More Than Your Logo
Even if you consistently use the same logo and colors, you may not be sending a consistent message.
Consider—What have you named your products? What titles do you give your staff? What type of photos or images do you use on your website?
Everything you produce for your business can and should align around your marketing theme. Marketers often refer to touch points. Every way a consumer comes in contact with your brand is a touch point. Each point should look and feel and say the same thing: your brand message.
Lesson 2: You Don’t Have to Figure Out Your Brand Alone
A group brainstorming session is so useful in forming your marketing message and consistent theme.
Kristin is an excellent facilitator and is available to lead group creative brainstorming sessions for any business. Contact us today about a creative brainstorming session for your business’s marketing.