Your Brand Tree: Authentic Brand-building through Writing

You’re launching your business. There’s so much to think about: rates, marketing, logo, and business card. And everybody keeps telling you you need to blog! Where to begin? So much of marketing depends on a strong and resonant brand. The answers to questions you’re asking yourself about logo and color, Facebook ads, and blogging will reveal themselves when you’re clear on your brand identity.

Your brand identity dictates not just the look of your website but where and how you market. Deciding on the shapes and colors in your logo comes after brand. URL address comes after brand. Whether to blog comes after brand. Don’t worry if you’ve started some of these activities without working out your brand. But do stop now, put your engine in reverse, and write to take the first step to building your brand organically.

Where do the marketing and branding experts begin their branding process? They study the roots of the business. That’s why I’m a fan of the Linney Brand Tree, a simple and universally applicable model for building brands. The Linney Group is a UK-based marketing company that’s been in the business since the 1800s. The image and quotes below come from an educational brochure they used to make available on their website.

I’ve helped hundreds of creative business owners build their own unique and authentic brands beginning with this tree exercise. What you write at first does not need to sound like sales copy or a website homepage. That comes later. For now, establish your true answers to these questions and start germinating your brand tree.

The roots of your tree correspond to your company's attributes and the promise you make. The folks at Linney say, “Trees rely on strong, healthy roots in order to develop effectively and the same can be said for brands. Developing a strong base means a brand can grow to be stable and ultimately more effective against the challenge of competitors.”

Write about the roots of your business. What is the promise you make to your customer? What do you do better than anyone? How do you connect emotionally to your clients?
List as many verbs as you can for all the things you do. For instance, as The Sexy Grammarian, I teach, coach, guide, edit, give feedback, encourage, and promote my clients and their creative work.
Draw a tree. Cover the roots of your tree with all your favorite words and turns of phrase from your writing and your list.

The lower trunk corresponds to the personality of your company. Linney says, “…brands can have personalities in much the same way humans have. Brand personality is seen as a valuable factor in increasing engagement and brand attachment, in a similar way to how people relate to and bond with other people.”

Write about the personality of your business. What kind of person is your company? With whom do your clients want to engage?
List as many nouns as you can for the kind of person you want to reflect. For instance, The Sexy Grammarian is a teacher, a coach, a grammar geek, a collaborator, and a cheerleader. Next, list as many adjectives to describe your business as you can. The Sexy Grammarian is nonjudgmental, knowledgeable, passionate, and enthusiastic.
Draw: Cover the lower trunk of your tree drawing with all your favorite words and phrases from your writing and your list.

The upper trunk corresponds to the essence of your company. “It underpins what our consumers will allow a brand to do or stand for in their hearts and their minds,” says Linney.

Write about the essence of your company. What do you stand for? What are your values? What do your services symbolize in the hearts and minds of your clients?
List as many values as you can for your company. Vales words are usually nouns. For instance, Sexy Grammar stands for creativity, self-expression, and communication.
Draw: Cover the upper trunk of your tree with all your favorite words and phrases from your writing and your list.

No need to write about the branches or foliage just yet. In fact, the language that comes from your responses to the prompts above will help you understand what belongs on the branches and foliage of your company’s brand tree. The branches correspond to the types of marketing you do, your tactics, such as networking, social media, and advertising. The foliage corresponds to the shapes, colors, fonts, and images in your logo and other design elements. If you’re working with a graphic designer for logo and web design, sharing your brand tree with that professional will likely yield exciting collaborative results and inspired logos and designs.

What happens next? The other side of this coin is your target market. Check out my post, "Your Market’s Heart," to write about your ideal clients. After these two exercises, I love to sit down with new business owners to mine the best, most powerful language in what you’ve written. Often we start by expanding the list, using a thesaurus to find more “branded” synonyms for your power vocabulary. It was in this step, looking for more words to add to my own list of “promise verbs” for Sexy Grammar, that I stumbled into my tagline, “Arouse the writer.”

Finally, we refine the most powerful vocabulary at the heart of your business and use those words to name the business, write a great tagline, draft a homepage, craft a professional bio, develop other marketing copy, and guide decisions about marketing tactics and the brand’s visual design.

 

I'm a writer and teacher, dedicated to arousing writers and easing the messy, juicy, sexy process of creativity. For more powerful business-writing and strategy tips, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Yearning to jump into the writer’s life? My free ebook, Arouse Your Writer Self, will get you going. Want more? Private sessions with me are more affordable than you think, and the first one’s free.

 

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Monday, 23 October 2017

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