Is Your Brand a Disguise?

by Alex Tillard

Human Connection

We’re nearing the end of October, when many of us celebrate Halloween by dressing in costumes, walking around the chilly neighborhood with our families, or handing out candy to the costumed trick-or-treaters. It’s expected this time of year that we will dress up like someone else just for an evening. But then after Halloween, we go back to our “normal lives” until the next year.

Donning a disguise is indeed a fun and memorable way to get noticed. But when it comes to your brand, relying on gimmick too much can actually be more like Kryptonite. Think of the most recognizable brands you know: Target, Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola. What is it that makes those brands strong? Logos? Colors? Photography? Yes….but those only tell part of the story. A brand is about the physical: how it feels when you shop online or in the store. It’s about the social: how employees treat you, how you interact with customer service, and the quality of their product or service. And while the aforementioned companies have great visual identities, those visuals act to strengthen the other two parts of branding to complete the whole package.

As a marketing company, much of what we do at Navigate is related to the visual. But the visual brand of any company or organization is only as good as what’s beneath the surface. We can make a beautiful logo and take amazing photos, but if the experience side of a brand isn’t strong, it just won’t work well. At the same time, if your visual branding doesn’t match the great experience you give your customers, it’s almost like a spooky Halloween costume that hides who you really are.

You might, of course, be TRYING to hide who you really are. It can be scary to reveal your true brand when you know that there are aspects of it that need to change. And make no mistake; Changing a brand is not easy. Sometimes it requires a logo change, which seems simple but impacts everything from your website to billboards to vehicle graphics. Other times, changing your brand might require updated employee training, a new mission statement, or even a new office space. Whatever the case, the biggest challenge is in discovering why and how the change needs to happen.

You’re not alone in being frightened by the change monster. In fact, if you’re looking for scary rebrand stories, look no further than Coca-Cola. Remember back in 1985 when the soda giant decided to change their formula after 99 years of success? They might have had the right idea in attempting to re-energize their brand, but instead, they ended up alienating legions of faithful customers. That episode is now known as one of the biggest rebrand faux pas in marketing history.

With stories like that, it’s no wonder that most companies avoid a brand change, whether it’s visual (logo, photography, etc.), physical (environment), or social (interacting with customers). But if your brand isn’t telling your true story or truly representing your values, it won’t be long before your customers see right through your disguise. In that case, it’s time to take off the mask and take a good long look in the mirror. Doing so won’t be easy, but making your brand more holistic will bring people in, get them engaged, and keep them returning to you again and again.