The Power of 3: Image + Voice + Promise = Brand

August 22, 2016

It’s always interesting to see how a brand comes together and what contributes to its success. It can seem like companies that excel at branding effortlessly create something magical, but the truth is that they put a lot of thought into how they brand their widget (service/product/organization).

While branding encompasses everything from customer touch points to visual appeal, there are three components that in my opinion and from my experience, factor into whether a brand becomes successful.

What is Brand Image?

Brand image is the current view from consumers about a brand. It’s visual appeal. It can be defined as a bundle of associations within the minds of target customers. For example, Volvo is associated with safety while Toyota is associated with reliability.

It signifies what the brand presently stands for and essentially is the consumer’s perception about the product, service, or organization. Brand image often conveys emotional value. The main elements of a positive brand image are a unique logo, a slogan describing an organization’s business in brief, and brand identifiers or differentiators supporting the brand’s key values. Brand image develops and displays a brand’s character in a manner different from its competitors.

What is Brand Voice?

Simply put, brand voice is how your company expresses it’s messaging both verbally and non-verbally through communication skills and attitude. Brand voice touches virtually all aspects of communication, from advertising and taglines to blog posts, and verbal assets to elevator pitch, and tone. It’s a brand’s dialogue and vernacular.

Your content should be instantly recognizable, convey your brand’s core values and be entertaining, useful, and relevant. One way to accomplish these things is to think about, and focus on, developing your brand voice through your content. Is the brand voice cheeky? Serious? Direct? Engaging? Entertaining? Authoritative? Fun? AXE and Dove are both owned by the same parent company, Unilever; however, they have very different brand voices because they speak to a very different audience – males and females respectively.

What is Brand Promise?

A brand promise is what the company delivers to the people who interact with it. It’s not a description of what a company does in a literal sense, but the holistic experience by the customer that has been committed by the company providing the promise. It’s a description of the company’s character. To some extent, it’s a mission; it’s how the company creates and delivers value. Budweiser claims their brand promise is “The King of Beers” while Coors Light claims “The World’s Most Refreshing Beer.” Would you agree? Look to your experience because experience is the brand. The more value the brand delivers and the more consistently it’s delivered, the stronger the brand will be.

Brands must infuse their promise into their brand’s DNA and develop strategies; which incorporate vivid details that tell their stories – this is what will set them apart from other brands.

A brand cannot be established by just one of these three factors. They all need to play together in the same sandbox at the same time in order to have the most effect. The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts, so if your visual, verbal, and experiential components collectively make your audience sit up and take notice, you are on the right track.