3 C’s of business branding
When I work with business owners on their brand identity, I walk them through the three C’s that all great brands have: they are clear, concise and consistent. Think about some of your favorite brands, and I bet you’ll find they have these three characteristics!
Your brand should be clear.
This C is all about taking the work off of your customers. When they are introduced to something new, they have a lot of questions: Who are you? What do you do? What can they expect? How will they feel? Is it for them? Your answers to these questions should be as clear as possible in your branding.
You need to be clear in the look, the tone and the feel: Does the look of your brand attract your target market? Does the tone appeal to your target market? Does the feel connect with your target market? When you make branding decisions about each of these areas that are extremely clear, you will attract the customer you’re trying to reach.
For example, if you go to a nice restaurant and there are no prices on the menu, that may seem confusing, but it’s actually a very clear branding decision. This is a nice and expensive restaurant whose target customer values the quality of the experience over what it will cost them. You’d never go eat at a fast-food restaurant where they don’t list the prices, but having unlisted prices is consistent with a brand that’s more formal and expensive.
Clarity is especially important when it comes to your online presence, because your website will likely be a customer’s first interaction with your brand. Think of your website like a town, and imagine your customer is new to that town. How easy is it for them to explore and get to where they want to go? Do you have clear street signs posted in logical places or—in the case of your website—clear menus located in logical places?
How readable is your website? Your website is a part of the look of your brand, but it’s also an experience. If your customer is squinting to read your curly font, it’s not a good experience no matter how cute it is.
Your brand should be concise.
Even if you are super clear in your branding and messaging, it’s easy to think that, in order to be clear, you have to say all the things. You want to cover every detail and explain every possible thing anyone would every need or want to know about your business or products or services! Although that can feel right, it’s actually the completely wrong approach.
Too much information actually turns customers away. It overwhelms them. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible (I know: It’s ironic this advice is coming from me—a chatterbox). You’ll make more of an impact when you say less. The same principle is true in design: Whether it’s colors and fonts on your website or words in your product descriptions, less is always more.
Your brand should be consistent.
When your brand is consistent, your customer knows what to expect. A great example of a consistent brand is Chick-fil-A. They’re keenly aware of who they are and who they’re not.
A Chick-fil-A franchise owner in Georgia conducted an experiment of adding milkshakes to their menu, much to his customers’ delight. He presented his results to the VP of menu strategy, and—praise Jesus—we can all enjoy sippable, ice-creamy deliciousness with our fresh fried chicken.
But the store owner said himself: “If this were a burger, we would have never tried it. That’s too far from our core offering. But because we already offered ice cream, this was just a derivation of what we were already providing our customers.”
A decision to add burgers to their menu would have done more than confuse those mischievous cows in their marketing campaigns—it would create an inconsistent brand experience.
A consistent experience on your website will make your customer feel right at home. And when they feel at home, they are already moving their mouse into the upper right corner to click on your blog because they know that’s where it’s located. And when they come into your boutique, they know exactly how to browse your products.
Brands that are successful are clear, concise and consistent. You get the same colors, fonts and experiences every single time you see or interact with them in any way.
Think about it this way: What do we all value above anything else? Our time. That’s true for your customers, too. So when you save them the time they would’ve spent figuring everything out on their own by being clear, concise and consistent in your branding, you’re doing something amazing for your customers. You’re saving them time and energy by making it easy on them to understand you and do business with you. Brands that do that are the brands that win!