Your brand is your customer’s perception of your company, messaging, and products. Your company and products have different layers of your brand. They should complement each other and drive consistency among the platforms where your brand communicates.
Whether or not your products are branded separately from your company, both your product and brand need to show a consistent mission, message, and tone.
Your company’s mission is the foundation for its success. Your mission is reflected in your site, but it should also be shown in your product design and goal.
Your company’s mission is the promise you make to your customers. The company’s mission is fulfilled by the brand and its products. The products or services deliver the results, which are reflected in the brand’s reputation. It may be something like:
Honest Tea: "... to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages."
Nordstrom: "... to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible."
Warby Parker: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses."
Through their services and product offerings, each of these companies live up to their mission. By fulfilling, or exceeding, the promises they make with their mission to consumers, they build trust.
The company must begin and end with the mission in mind to succeed. That means developing a culture, products, and services around this core mission. It also means that deviations from this core purpose aren’t pursued.
It’s disconcerting when a product and its company don’t quite go together. Like Zippo’s women’s perfume. Even with the messaging and tone in alignment with the overall brand, a product that doesn’t make sense will stick out.
MESSAGING AND TONE
Your message and tone across your products should reflect the overall brand. From the words used to the types of visuals displayed, it’s important that both remain consistent when moving from a company to a product view. Both are indicators of the how behind what you offer.
For example, think about how you would characterize your company. Is it fun? Open? Different? This should be reflected in the types of products you offer and their messaging. If your products are clunky, boring, and at parity, you are not reflecting the same brand from company to product. If they are messaged differently from the way the company’s brand is characterized, they will be off brand as well.
A company with tight messaging and tone, along with visual delivery, is Apple. They say they are about being different, deliver a different product, and then sell it in an interesting way. Apple began the launch events that made launch marketing something people looked forward to. They also maintain their simple copywriting from their site to their packaging.
These types of nuances are made easier with a brand style guide. By keeping track of the way words are used, written, or styled, companies can keep a brand consistent in its fonts, use of colors and logos, and messaging.
Product photography and styling should reflect the overall brand but can say something different about each individual product line. Just like fashion lines, each has a different perspective it’s trying to showcase. But it reflects the larger fashion brand.
You can think of it this way as well - by looking at your product’s marketing, an individual should be able to recognize what brand it is. When a product has a strong visual brand, it’s easy to identify the larger company.
You would never mistake Kate Spade for Betsey Johnson. Or an Apple for a Dell. These types of strong visual brands make an impression because their point of view is so clear.
For less visual brands, it comes down to styling, lifestyle photography, and information graphics. Don’t neglect the visual styling of your products. If your brand is cool, hip, and modern, avoid styling your product as frumpy and dated.
From your design on your site to your in-store experience, think about how you want the brand to impact the customer visually.
When you’re thinking about your product and company brands, ask yourself:
Are your brands working together? Or are they in conflict? It’s like ordering a chocolate layer cake to find out that your icing is actually mayonnaise. They may look like they belong together, but the experience doesn’t live up to the perception. Take a look at your customer experience and satisfaction.
What can you do to drive greater synergies between your product line(s) brands and your overall brand? Think about your product messaging, delivery methods, and design aesthetic. If your brand is deviating from standards at the product level, it will undermine the integrity of the brand as a whole.
Is there anything that could be reorganized under a different brand or streamlined in experience? If a product is well-developed but doesn’t match with your current brand, something will feel off in the consumer experience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SOPHIE NEWMAN
Sophie Newman is a strategist who loves helping entrepreneurs define, position, and grow their brands. She enjoys teaching yoga, blogging marketing on The Orange Slice, and reading fantasy novels.