All great brands have one thing in common, an intense understanding that it is all about the customer. Ultimately, branding is the process of defining your reputation in the mind of the consumer. This perspective is often the difference between a thriving and a dying brand. Some brands create “Signature Cues”, a term coined by the mega brand strategy firm Lipponcot, to intentionally pursue an experiential connection with the consumer. Signature cues can be colors (Tiffany Blue Box), shapes (Coke Bottle), symbols (Nike Swoosh), rituals (Corona Lime Wedge), service (Zappos), voice (“My Pleasure” for a popular chicken sandwich chain), and even sounds (Toyota wireless keylock). With that in mind, here are three ways to create unique Signature Cues for your brand:
Audit your current customer experience. Start by getting feedback from your current customers. Determine what they like and what they don’t. Simply ask them a few open ended questions and you’ll be amazed at the things that come to the surface. We believe in qualitative over quantitative research in this case. After you have a reading on your customer’s pulse, map out every touch-point from start to finish and examine the current experience landscape. Look for areas of improvement and include customer feedback for given areas.
Analyze the competitive landscape. What are your competitors’ signature cues? One of John Deere’s signature cues is their green tractor. So when Kubota tractors entered the market they choose orange tractors as their cue. Basing your signature cue off a competitor’s strategy may seem counterintuitive at first, but often times it can prove effective when two similar yet distinctive cues become a badge of loyalty for customers choosing one brand over another.
Ideate and map cues. Sit down and think through what makes your business special. What cues do you currently posses? What color, texture, shape, products, service, voice, or sound makes the experience of your brand unique? After thinking about the various factors that make your brand unique, take the main factor and work to create a signature cue through it. Cues do not need to be complex to be effective. They need only be memorable and recognizable.
A signature cue is a unique aspect of your brand that sticks in the mind of consumers and allows them to experience what your brand has to offer. This cue helps to create a customer centered experience that allows a brand to stand out in the marketplace. Consumers feel a personal connection to Corona when they squeeze a lime into a bottle of the company’s beer and women instantly feel special and appreciated when they open one of Tiffany’s blue boxes. Thinking about what makes your brand special and applying it to a recognizable signature cure is a great way to engage consumers in a way that encapsulates them in a unique experience only attainable through your brand.
Craig Johnson is the chief strategist and co-founder of Matchstic, a premier brand identity house. His Atlanta branding agency helps organizations create passionate brands that are memorable, relevant, and lasting. Specializing in brand development through brand strategy, positioning, business & product naming and brand identity services, Matchstic’s brand architects forge positive change and accomplish business objectives through creative thinking and smart design.