If you want to dig deep into the critical intersection of brand and business strategy then, “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier is the book for you. It is succinct, clear, and to the point. He doesn’t waste your time with excessive fluff. In fact, he calls the book “a whiteboard overview.” This is likely one of many mentions we will make of this book–as it is an all time favorite book on branding. Nestled amongst the 158 pages of thought provoking ideas is the concept of the brand “hand test.” On page 115 Neumeier shared:
Take any piece of visual communication and cover up your trademark with your hand. Can you tell whose piece it is? If the communication in question looks as if it could have come from any other company or brand, then it’s less than it could be. Because even without a trademark, those familiar with your brand should be able to tell who’s talking just by its “voice,” or the look and feel of the materials.
Would you pass the hand test? Are your marketing materials so unashamedly authentic that it cannot be overlooked that it is your company represented?
Notice that Neumeier highlights the voice, look and feel. It is not enough to have a really cool color scheme, or an engaging layout. To truly embody brand you must have the full package: compelling copy paired with strong visuals that collectively and unequivocally represent the heart of your brand.
Many brands overlook the idea of brand personality, tone, and crafting a clear discriminator. Instead, they rest easy in a really sharp logo that was cleverly crafted. But what if that logo disappeared? Would the remaining elements still speak to you?
We encourage you to take a moment, pause, and take the hand test.
Your Social Media Presence
Could your posts or tweets exist on your competitors stream or newsfeed and still make sense? If so, it is time to make a major adjustment! Each post should represent your company in a unique and brand honoring way. Carefully consider the copy you are sharing over social media and how it ties to the content. Is it part of your bigger brand story?
Whether you are an ecommerce company or not, you are “selling” from your website. In order to ensure visitors are hearing your message, make sure that the copy, sentence structure, layout, and design all point back to who you are as a company or organization. If your company is modern and progressive does your website design signal this? If your company is traditional and timeless, have you chosen a classic composition?
Your Printed Materials
Remember, print is not dead. It still must exist in support of and integrated with your digital efforts. Business cards, sales slicks, and handouts must all pass the hand test too. Beyond your logo, does the visual design support and honor your brand? Does it feel bold and in your face when your brand is actual more tranquil and relaxed? Conversely, are you touting modern relevance but using antiquated design elements? The texture of the paper you use can signal a brand feel–literally and in a more emotive sense.
Since brand is about who they say you are–not who you say you are–ask people who are unfamiliar with your business to give gut-level feedback about the materials and messaging you are presenting. Ask for a few adjectives that describe how the copy and design made them feel. Cover up your logo and icon elements and ask if they can tell what your company does and the associated personality.
First off, we hope you obtain and read The Brand Gap cover to cover–you wont regret it! Also, if you conduct the hand test–which we truly hope you will–let us know how it went! We hope you pass but if you don’t, and feel in need of support to get things back on track, go ahead and reach out to our team.