Getting to publish my own magazine, Connect, is a favorite part of my job at Lithographics. In researching & developing this marketing content, I am fortunate to meet some of the region's most creative branding and marketing executives.
Like Matt Cheuvront of Proof Branding in Nashville. As Proof Branding’s Founder & CEO, Matt has worked with hundreds of brands worldwide and leads the strategic and creative direction of projects for clients such as Fat Bottom Brewing, CrossFit Morristown, Proper Bagel and many others.
I asked Matt to help me better understand "branding" in this interview from our latest issue. (For your free issue of Connect Magazine, please contact David Deeb at Lithographics).
Founder & CEO
Proof Branding – Nashville, TN
- What is a brand?
- The idea of “branding” can be a big, confusing, ambiguous thing. The best way I can summarize is that a brand is bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s made up of everything you do, everything you sell, and what you represent. A logo, website, or a fancy brochure...these are all components of a memorable brand, but consistency at each touchpoint is key. Challenge yourself to think about how each part of your brand works together, rather than itemizing pieces into independent silos.
- What should a brand do?
- Any strong brand clearly communicates who you are, what you do/what you offer, and why it’s unique or distinct. That last point is most critical, but often misunderstood. Don’t try to be something that no one else is. Odds are, there are plenty of brands very similar to yours. Instead, focus on what you do best, and what makes you truly distinct. Maybe it’s the product itself, maybe it’s as simple as offering a unique packaging experience. Whatever that unique approach is, hold onto it and build it into the ethos of your brand and what you share with your clients and customers.
- What advice would you give today’s marketers on how to stay focused, create conversations and increase conversions in 2018?
- We preach the importance of transparency to our clients. What does that mean? It means showing your authentic self through everything that you do. Use language that feels comfortable when you communicate to customers and invite your clients into your company’s culture and day to day. In today’s market, buyers are more informed than ever; an easy way to stand out is to invite them into your passion and purpose.
- Why does brand management matter?
- A brand, any brand, your brand, is a living, breathing thing that demands ongoing attention. Developing a strong brand isn’t something you set and forget, rather, it is constantly evolving and most importantly, listens and responds to customers. Whether you have a dedicated staff member focused on branding or not, don’t lose sight of what got you started, but also don’t hesitate to finesse and tweak the focus and direction of the brand as times change and customer needs evolve.
- How do today’s consumers want to be engaged with brands?
- Customers want to relate to brands now more than ever. Even the simplest commodities are approached in distinct and unique ways. People don’t buy what you’re selling, they’re more interested in why you’re selling it. That “why” behind the what is what makes you unique, and it adds an incredible amount of value to your customers in a highly commoditized world.
- Can brands create loyal employees as well as loyal customers?
- Loyalty is built from within and it starts with the individuals that make up your team. That internal “buy in” often can and does translate to your customers. When your customers believe in you and the people that make up your company, it creates a level of authenticity (yes, a super buzzy word right now) that ensures you stand out.
- What’s the best piece of advice you can offer today?
- The best piece of advice I can offer, at the risk of being redundant, is to think about branding holistically. Don’t be a brand with an incredible website if your brick and mortar customer experience is lacking. Don’t focus on a product without thinking about the packaging. Put yourselves in the shoes of your customer and think about every step of their journey - from the moment they type something into Google to the moment they pay at the register.
- What books are you reading?
- I’m always thumbing through books these days, but some of my absolute favorites in the creative branding world are “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, “The Shape of Design” by Frank Chimero and “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon. All are quick and easy reads, so no excuses. You’ll thank me later.