When you think of your favorite brands, you often associate them with an emotion. Interacting with a brand, just like interacting with a person, creates an emotional response. The best brands evoke one word:
- Volvo: Safety
- Apple: Innovation
- Facebook: Community
As you're building a brand, whether it's your personal brand or it's your next big gig, you need to think not just about the what—the product or service—but also the why. Why does your brand exist? What bigger movement are you a part of? Ultimately, who do you want to be?
These are big, hairy questions that brands tinker with for years and years. The reality is, every single interaction a person has with your brand makes up your brand. Every emotion you create matters.
So, who do you want to be? How do you start building a brand?
One of my favorite techniques to start thinking through those bigger questions is a word cloud. Getting it out of your head and onto paper will help you determine both who you want to be, but also how you want to talk about yourself.
- What kind of feelings do we want to create?
- How do our customers feel before and after using our product?
- What's going through their head before they purchase the product?
The biggest thing to keep in mind when you're brainstorming is to let it flow. You may start with a few key words (in the above, it's entrepreneurship and ecommerce) but you'll eventually get to something completely different (like dreaming and doing). You want to evoke emotion, so lean into those feelings, both good and bad, that you'll be working with.
Once you've exhausted the word cloud, look for themes—what's sticking out to you? Have you written down any synonyms or words that are in the same category? Pull those words into a big list, organized by theme.
Once you have a few loose themes by word, think about the ideas you're really trying to convey. Build full sentences around what those feelings mean.
Once you start building your sentences around those themes, you're on your way to figuring out who you want to be. This exercise works for your personal brand or for a company—what matters is that you're getting to the heart of the emotions you want to convey and what you want to embody.