image credit: westeast.design

Is your Brand an A-hole?

It’s all about congruency.

We know corporations are essentially people in the eyes of the law. Similarly, it can be helpful to think of your brand as a person. In fact, the brand-as-human approach towards creating, clarifying and projecting an effective brand image is one of the most useful conceptual frameworks we have for branding and brand identity.

Your brand is theoretically a person, and all marketing, promotion, and communications should sound and behave just like that person had designed and delivered them.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and picture your brand as a person. Now pretend you’re meeting this person for the first time. How might we judge and make reasonable assessments of people new to us?

Visual appearance is the surface layer.
> How have they composed and designed their visual presentation to the world?

Next is what they say, and how they say it.
> How do they compose and design their verbal presentation to the world?

Quick example: We’ve all met somebody like this… Visually, they’re perfection. In their tailored clothing, with thoughtfully matched accessories, their visual presentation is aesthetically pleasing, even on a subconscious level. It’s clear they’ve made an investment — time, energy, money — in their visual message to the world. Then they open their mouth, and suddenly the positive image is shattered. The expectations set by their thoughtfully designed visual were unmet by their verbal presentation.

Their visual and verbal messaging is incongruent. 
Good visual, bad verbal.

Perhaps they said something offensive, or merely thoughtless, insensitive to the circumstances, or maybe they’re spouting blatant untruths. The net effect is a cognitive disconnect in their presentation — their image and perception — breeding discomfort and distrust in the mind of the audience, even if they don’t know exactly why.

Take this a step further and consider behavior. The decisions and activities one conducts equally contribute to assessment of one’s character. If I call myself a vegan, and I’m always talking about veganism, then you catch me devouring a bloody T-bone, I’m busted as a fraud, a fake, untrustworthy. If a brand, for example, touts “humanity” and “humility”as core tenets of their brand identity, and then runs a sarcastic, arrogantly worded campaign, they’ve got a real problem on their hands. (Ahem, Airbnb.)

Discrepancies between a brand’s identity and behavior are 
no different from a person who says one thing & does another:

Flaky, unreliable, pretty much an A-hole.

Now ask yourself:

Does your brand have good visual, but the verbal is lagging behind?

Does your verbal messaging do justice to the promises that your brand is making?

Does your ID and messaging need to be more aligned and resonant with your brand’s behavior, and your audience?

Is your brand a bit of an A-hole?

Awareness is the first step toward congruency…

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