Welcome back to another episode with LaVon Lewis. In the last episode, we discussed why it is so important to not compete on price. In today’s episode, we’ll be discussing concepts from LaVon’s book, Today is a Great Day for a WOW Image!, and his branding and credibility marketing tips.
The reason LaVon used “WOW” in his book title is that WOW represents a customer’s reaction, the point where our product, service, and branding connects with that customer. The book walks through the creative side of branding. It breaks down the psychology of how people think, what colors mean, how to build a good website that attracts an audience and more branding concepts in addition to samples of work throughout the book. It details what creates a WOW image in a customer’s mind.
Having a good logo and brand can build our credibility. Here are five branding tips.
1. Logos: Shape, Color, and Name
A Harvard study found that 99% of our decisions are subconscious, and having the right logo impacts some of those subconscious decisions. There are three parts to a logo—shape, color, and name—and our brain processes each part in that order. For example, when we see Nike’s logo we first process the swoosh, then the colors (usually black and white), then the name, Nike.
This is why it is advantageous to have a simple logo and name. Not only does it make for a better website URL, but it is also easier for our customers to process.
We should also have a deep meaning in our logo. For example, the logo for Barack Obama’s campaign was an O with a sunrise in it that looked like an American flag. There’s a lot of meaning behind that; the American flag could represent his patriotism and the sunrise could represent a new day or a new era. These symbols connect with the audience on a subconscious level.
Most companies realize the importance of the logo image and eventually simplify to just the logo without the name. Starbucks has simplified its logo to exclude its name; now it is just the mermaid. Nike usually just has the swoosh. If I went to the Apple store, I wouldn’t see the name Apple on the outside, only the logo.
We process about 5,000 images a day, so we must simplify the images that represent our brands to just shape, color, and our name so customers will remember us. In addition, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text (Source: Movableink.com). So, when someone is driving down the street, they will process a logo much faster than a name.
2. Chose the Right Fonts
Fonts should also be chosen carefully because different kinds of fonts have different associations. Times New Roman, for example, has a traditional feel to it and, as a result, is used for companies like law firms. The font Apple uses is modern and smooth which feels more innovative and current. Script fonts tend to feel elegant or sophisticated. The font we choose should reflect the feeling we want our business to have.
We can take into consideration sans serif fonts vs serif fonts. Sans Serif fonts (without a serif or without the little lines on the ends of the letters) are simple, modern, and approachable. They are often used in businesses that are casual and informal. Many companies use a sans serif font in their logos such as Walt Disney and McDonald’s. Serif fonts (with serif) often represent trust and confidence. Many professional businesses use serif fonts such as Vogue, Sony, and Honda (Source: Impact).
3. What are we really selling?
We must connect to the emotional state of our customers. How do they feel when they buy our products and services? If our business is a hair salon, we’re not really selling haircuts—we’re selling confidence. We’re selling the feeling someone gets when they look in the mirror before their interview or first date.
When we realize that, we can create an environment for that feeling. The hair salon might have a book club or events outside the salon. They might have space where people can talk before they get their haircut. They might have food people can snack on while they wait.
Apple doesn’t sell phones, they sell a lifestyle. That’s why they can charge $1,000 for a phone that costs $200 to make. If we figure out what we are really selling, we can better market it to people. We can expand our platform. We can find out the value of our products and services and let our prices reflect that.
4. Brand Originality and Brand Value
People want to experience things they haven’t experienced before, so originality is valuable. There’s a restaurant near LaVon called Rock Steady that serves Afro-Caribbean cuisine. It is a nice place, with low lighting, great food, great drinks, and great music—there’s a little bit of everything. Because it is so original, if LaVon wanted to eat there he’d have to get a reservation five days to two weeks in advance depending on the time.
The Rolls-Royce Wraith is another example of a very original product. It has plush seats, carpet nicer than what a lot of people have in their houses, stars glowing on the ceiling, a great sound system, and dashboard, etc. When someone drives up in that, we know they have money, so that creates value for them.
When we have products or services that are very original or feel original, they become more valuable and people are willing to pay more for them.
Positioning, as we discussed in the last episode with LaVon, is very important. Positioning is communicating the difference between us and our competitors, and it’s also knowing why we exist.
Walmart is great with its positioning. It’s a store we can go to anytime and get pretty much anything—clothes, groceries, electronics, etc.—we need for a low price. Their positioning is so strong that if we wanted to sell a product on their shelves for $200 each, they would say we need to get it down to $150 or we can’t put it in the store.
LaVon said, “When you understand positioning, you can have a level of success and efficiency and clarity, which is the biggest thing in branding. [If] you have clarity, you can communicate clearly, people understand the difference between you and the next man, and you hopefully create brand loyalty with your customers.”
3 Credibility Marketing Strategies
Here are three credibility marketing strategies LaVon and I discussed.
1. Awards, Speaking, Books
In his book, LaVon tells his story of starting as a 19-year-old and having to prove his credibility because people didn’t believe someone that young could know what they were doing. LaVon and his partner had to work hard to get referrals and reviews, but LaVon said the most helpful things that gave them credibility were awards, speaking, and his book.
Winning the awards, speaking at conferences, and publishing his book proved to be great for LaVon and his partner. All of these things showed people that they had something worthwhile to say. It showed that they put in the work to know what they were talking about. The book especially shows that he’d done his research and it acted as a business card. It gave him interviews. It gave him speaking engagements.
Integrity is probably the biggest part of credibility marketing that people often don’t think about. Integrity is about doing what’s right, especially when we mess up. We’re all human; we’re bound to make mistakes. So when we make them, we must respond with integrity.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffett
If we can own up and fix our mistakes when we make them, it will make our credibility soar. Our customers will appreciate it when we quickly and humbly respond and make things right. When we make a mistake, we need a system in place for quickly identifying it and getting that information from the customer. Then we need to make sure all of our team members are empowered to do whatever it takes to make it right when that mistake happens.
3. Being Intentional
LaVon was very intentional about the awards he went after; he didn’t win them just because. He intentionally sought them out, looking for awards that would put him in front of the right people.
For example, there’s an organization called GMSDC, an advocacy organization for small business development and supplier diversity. Every year the organization has an award show for the Spirit of Alliance Awards. They have categories for these awards: less than $1 million, $1 to $10 million, $10 to $40 million, and greater than $40 million.
LaVon intentionally went after one of these awards. He was able to win it and stand up in front of an audience of 600-700 people to accept the award. “Whether you’re talking about PR, press, blogging, awards, book, speaking, you have to be intentional,” LaVon said.
If we’re asked to speak at a speaking engagement and they don’t have an honorarium, we must be intentional about choosing whether or not to do it. Depending on who’s in the audience, we may not get the $5,000 honorarium, but we may close a $300,000 deal and receive lots of exposure.
Thank you so much LaVon for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. Our logos should be simple and have deep meaning.
2.Our font should reflect the feeling we want our business to have or the personality of our brand.
3. When we know what we are really selling, and the true value of that to our ideal customers, we can market ourselves better, expand our platform, and let our prices reflect the value of our products and services.
4. People want to experience things they haven’t experienced before, so originality is valuable.
5. When we understand our positioning it’s a lot easier to be successful, efficient, and clear.
6. Awards, speaking, and books can be a great way to establish and grow our credibility.
7. The core foundational principle of credibility is to act with integrity and be credible. Credibility marketing isn’t about pretending to be something we are not. It’s just communicating our true credibility more effectively to our ideal customers.
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