A Kick Ass Brand is Comprised of Three Things

A Kick Ass Brand is Comprised of Three Things

by Chelsea Matthews, Founder of Matte Black


I love dissecting the psychology of a brand - the why behind our intention to connect with a product, place or thing beyond the item itself. It’s easy to know when you love a brand, and at surface level you can know why, but if you really dig deeper you can unravel an interesting stream of emotive elements that truly define that why.


It’s funny.

They just get me.

I feel like I’m talking to my best friend.

They feel playful and entertaining.

I get so much inspiration from their point of view!

I aspire for this.


If you think about it, there are often companies that you connect with as a brand, but you don’t necessarily purchase. Isn’t this interesting in theory? I can give you an example: Casper mattress. Love what they’re doing. What a creative approach to a seemingly un-creative business! A true disruptor. But have I ever purchased it? No! (Not that I wouldn’t, I’m just not in the market for the mattress). Yet I follow them across social, get their emails, and have saved some of their campaigns because I thought they were hilarious.


Similarly, there are brands you use every day that you choose not to follow or connect across any of their marketing funnels. Oral-B toothbrushes for example. I tend to always buy them, but I can honestly say I’ve never even taken a peek at what they do on social media, nor do I really care to.


I crack these two psychologies down to three things:


  1. Great quality product

  2. Killer creative

  3. A strong voice


The first - and most obvious - is to have a product that delivers. Clearly no company is going to get too far without this simple requirement in place. A quality product (or service) is what generates word of mouth marketing, the gold mine in cracking the consumer code.


But before a consumer even realizes you have a quality product - assuming her BFF ‘Jane’ hasn’t told her about it - typically comes through marketing funnels that feed her something she connects with. Think: advertising, social media, influencers, email marketing… and the like. So what drives her to action (otherwise known as making a purchase)? Well, that really depends on the consumer, the product and the competitive landscape, but what I can tell you is that strong creative, and a well identified voice was a big part of it.


Killer creative comes down to the visual storytelling that encompasses photo, video, illustration… whatever it will take to make heads turn. It’s so important to invest in this, and to maintain it. Visuals should be created cross-platform, and with campaigns in mind, but also the bite size pieces that will carry your narrative along. Sourced content is also a winner! It doesn’t all have to be original, it just has to have a very specific point of view.


A strong voice is so much harder than one might think. Sure, behind the scenes, marketing companies like ours create ‘personas’, or the pretend people that might not exist, but who epitomize who the brand is: the purpose, tone, language and person. But that is just a very surface level roadmap that often gets lost in the weeds as time goes on.


You really have to identify what your language will encompass: do you use millennial slang (wtf, bae, lolz), or do you even use emojis? Important things to note - this isn’t right for all brands, and we’ve certainly seen it done with a lack of authenticity that becomes the detriment of the brand. Does anyone remember the Chevy billboards with the emoji on them? It was a (very public) miss.


But then there are those that nail it, and it’s done from consistent copywriting that feeds cross-channel: from web, to email, to social. Set the tone at the brand level and finesse it by dept at every stage - even if it takes ten rounds of edits - until it feels right. Your customer and your audience will get it, and respond to it.


Ok, look. There are so many other things the fuel a great brand (innovation, experience, heritage), but these are three things that are imperative for any brand coming into the market today, and ultimate it all ties back to knowing your audience. Knowing how to communicate across different marketing channels in different ways - and having the infrastructure to do that (whether internal hires, an agency or just a freelancer), and staying consistent.

Care about what makes your customer (or future customer) tick. Pay attention to what consumer audiences are highly engaged with and take cues from that. Invest in the people and the tools that aren’t your expertise, or just aren’t the best use of your time. I promise, it will go a long, long way.