Does how you look really matter? It's not a matter of "should it," because the answer is... IT DOES! One's appearance matters because of hardwired consumer biases we have, such as the Halo Effect. Effective brand management requires that marketers labor to continually press the congruence between their brand appearance and their brand image.
And so, today we're talking...!
What's Your Brand Appearance?
First, let's define our terms.
- Brand Appearance is the physical look, and in the case of e-commerce, the experience of browsing, researching, comparing, purchasing, and re-experiencing a brand. The scope of brand appearance reaches as far as a business logo to a brick-and-mortar ambiance, to the physical look of the staff. It serves as the first impression gauge to which all other impressions are then measured.
- Brand Image is the conceptual construct to which your consumer base imagines your brand to be. When someone asks you if you want a cup of coffee, you think... Starbucks. If someone wants a recommendation on workout gear, you may say... Under Armor. If you hear the word "Costco," you may think... cheap/buying-in-bulk. Rolex? Luxury. In all cases, whatever image flows into the mind's eye of the consumer, THAT is your brand image.
The connection is then clear. Your brand appearance is the first stop shop of developing your brand image, and ultimately, the creation and completion of your brand promise.
Therefore, it's crucial to consider these three brand experience tenets:
- Aesthetics. Be it a physical location, website, app, or portal, your appearance must match your brand image's brand promise. A minimalist, time saving service/product should have a similar look throughout the continuum of brick-and-mortar into the website structure. A service brand which trumps a 5-star experience should project an image of happiness and satisfaction beyond measure. Your look is part of the brand experience that you give your customers; therefore, it fully carries over to the conversion of consumer purchase. Perhaps more importantly, it translates to customer retention. Loyalty, is many times, far more important.
- Voice. In many similarities to a dating experience, looks are many times the first impression a brand will give to the prospective customer. Yet, once we get past this point and interest is gathered, it is the voice and tone throughout the first date that seals the deal for date number two. Companies express their voice via blogs, website content, social media posts, ads, labels, etc. Just about anything with printed image or published multimedia serves as a brand's vocal expression. Therefore, a brand's voice must also match the brand's appearance and identity to maximize the congruence of customer expectations of the brand promise. Welcome based brands should have a voice which is conversational, minimizes jargon, and encourages community. Solution based brands should offer small teases and pearls of wisdom as it pertains to actionables. Experience based brands should assume a tonal posture which gives customers a platform to share their own wonderful experiences as a strategy of perpetuating brand equity elevation.
- Flow. Keeping with the dating metaphor, the flow of the first date is crucial to landing the second date (customer loyalty). If the date goes bad with awkward silences and the like, it ultimately sullies the experience itself. The same goes for a company's brand experience as it relates to the initial appearance of the brand. If the first impression of the brand appearance is that of cost savings, what it is really communicating to the consumer is that this brand will save you time. Therefore, the experience must be polished, streamlined, and exceptionally efficient. Wait times will betray the brand promise. Similarly, if the first impression from a brand appearance is that of catered customization, a lack of fleshed out options and a poor browsing vehicle will also betray the promise and brand experience itself.
So, I ask you: What's Your Brand Appearance?
- Is it in line with your brand identity?
- Does it create synergies with your brand promise?
- And, is it congruent with your brand image?
If your answer to these three questions were, "YES!" Congratulations! You have created a wonderful threshold to nail the brand experience from the get go.
Announcements & Mentions!
- If you haven't heard already, it's official! I will be joining UpDoc Media with several heavy hitters including that of Dr. Gene Shirokobrod, Dr. Erson Religioso, and more... so stay tuned! As a teaser: my focus will be on a section called "Business Fung Shui: Doing Business The Fung Way." To hear more about it, go to the Therapy Insiders' Podcast HERE. Just remember, at UpDoc Media, you will find the "Content you NEED to know, delivered with clinical precision."
- I'm continuing my vlog episodes in spurts given kiddo management ;) And, as you've noticed, it's more about having fun. Still, if you have anything you want covered, just let me know via email or tweet me @DrBenFung.
- One final mention, I want to thank FreshBooks for the inspiration for this post on brand appearance. FreshBooks specializes in cloud accounting and is a great resource in keeping your brand experience fluid, seamless, and consistent. After all, who wants to have a great brand experience only to get tied up and fumble at the end when invoicing and accounting is concerned? Save time and check out FreshBooks. After all, time is money!
ALLLLLLRIGHT! That's all folks. As always, if there is anything you want covered or talked about, please reach out. I'm only an email or a tweet away!