It's common for most businesses and even business owners to work in a way that influences their branding, but have no real direction or guide to help them do so. Having a set of guides or principles can go a long way in helping influence a company’s brand so how they are perceived in the marketplace aligns with their goals in how they want to be represented.
Brand drivers are one of several tools that businesses can use in order to achieve cohesive brand messaging, drive their brand identity and decision-making, and influence their branding overall in the marketplace.
What are brand drivers
For most companies and organizations, brand drivers are what helps influence their brand and are the guiding principles and motivations behind what they want their brand to represent.
Brand drivers are a set of adjectives that describe your organization and are used as a way to influence your branding in the marketplace.
If you haven’t read any of my previous articles before, it’s important to note that you don’t actually create your brand, you can only influence it. The marketplace, your customers, and others outside of your organization are the ones who actually determine what your branding is.
With that in mind, brand drivers help steer your branding to what you want your branding to be, and what you hope the marketplace will attach to your branding. In other words, they help “drive” or influence your branding.
Some examples of brand drivers include (but are certainly not limited to): professional, adventurous, personable, approachable, vibrant, eclectic, sophisticated, suave, charismatic, affordable, high-end, unique, moody, grungy, etc. The list could literally go on for days, as brand drivers are adjectives that you use to help describe and influence your branding.
They are often aligned with your mission statement, the overall feeling you want customers to have, and the way you want the marketplace to describe your business. Brand drivers are what you are working toward, and ultimately hope is the goal of your branding.
The benefits of using brand drivers
There are several ways brand drivers define for your business or organization can benefit you, both inside your business and in the marketplace.
Internally, brand drivers help establish a set of principles or ideals in which everyone within the business is working to achieve. It doesn’t really matter if your business is a company of one, one-hundred, or one-thousand, brand drivers still work as a driving force behind pretty much everything you do in your business.
Externally, using brand drivers help to keep the overall goal of influencing your branding consistent. For example, if one of your brand drivers is “approachable,” then you’re less likely to make decisions (either on your business, designs in your business, or others) that may be seen as a put-off to your potential customers, or possibly give you the impression that you’re not very easy to do business with.
How to determine your brand drivers
Determining your brand drivers goes back to looking at your mission statement, the goals and ideals you hold as a company, and the way you want to be perceived in the marketplace.
To start, list out all of the adjectives you believe could be used to describe your business, your products and/or services, the way you want customers to feel, and any other adjectives you may feel are appropriate.
The best thing here is to list as many as possible: at the start of determining your brand drivers, there’s no limit as to how many to start with. Don’t go through the process just yet of editing them and making any determinations: if it pops into your head, write it down.
Once you feel you have a fairly large and comprehensive list (and it may take you some time to get to that point), it’s time to start narrowing them down. Here are a few ways in which you can narrow them down:
- Are any of the adjectives you wrote down just don’t feel right to you? Maybe they aren’t as strong as some of the others you see, or just simply don’t feel like are a good fit? These are the quick and easy ones to mark off.
- Are any of them synonyms for one another? For example, you may have written down both “friendly” and “approachable,” which happen to be synonyms for each other. Which do you feel best encompasses what you hope your business to be perceived as? Whichever one resonates more with you, keep, then mark out the other.
- Could you group any of them together? For example, the drivers “vibrant,” “colorful,” “bright,” and “cheerful” are all very closely related. Which of these resonates less with your overall goals and ideals? Perhaps you may feel that “bright” may not be as strong as “colorful,” and “cheerful” may not be as strong as “vibrant.” Mark out the ones that aren’t as strong.
Ideally, you should go through those steps and work your way down to a list of about three to five brand drivers.
Those three to five drivers should all be unique and not similar to each other at all, but still represent what your business is about and how you want to be perceived.
You know if you’ve got the right amount of drivers when you feel that removing one leaves a giant hole in the impression that you’re hoping these drivers leave in the marketplace.
How to use your brand drivers to influence your brand
Once you’ve established your brand drivers, you can use them in a variety of ways to influence your brand.
First off, you should use them to help drive any brand identity design and logo design projects you may have going on (especially for those new in business and currently undergoing those types of projects).
Every decision on typography, color, layout, symbols, etc. should be made with these brand drivers as a check.
For example, you’ll likely want to opt for a sans-serif font if one of your brand drivers is “modern,” as serif fonts tend to have a more classic, historic feel to them.
Second, your brand drivers should be used to describe who you are, what you do, and about your products and/or services in your marketing content. Your brand drivers are adjectives, so they should be used as such, i.e. “a modern take on transportation” if one of your brand drivers is “modern.” You should work these brand drivers into your marketing content in any place you can, but be cautious as to not overdo it.
Finally, another way you can use your brand drivers is in the way you operate your business. If your brand driver is “approachable,” then check all of your systems and processes when it comes to working with customers to make sure that the experience they are having is top notch and that you aren’t pushing them away for any reason. Up your customer service game and be proactive in reaching out to them.
Brand drivers help drive your branding
The core concept of brand drivers is to help drive your brand identity and your overall branding when it comes to how the marketplace perceives you. Keeping this in mind as you narrow down your brand drivers, define them, and start incorporating them into your business will help give you focus and clarity when making decisions that could potentially influence your branding.