Why Your Brand Must Own a Single Word

Let’s just start with the fact that every business has a brand – regardless of size, product category or market share.

A brand is the collective perception of those that interact with your business – good, bad or indifferent though they may be, they still put their stamp on the overall experience and promise.

So, the only real question is how do you intentionally guide that stamp and promise so that people have an experience in line with what you want it to be.

In my mind, the ultimate mark of brand success is when the community that interacts with your brand, in any fashion, comes to define it using a single word. This takes work, it may take money, but it certainly takes systematic consistency.

If we are to define a brand, as I have above, as the collective perception of those that interact with your business, then it’s safe to say you must consider elements beyond the traditional marketing identity set.

Further, if we are to point the brand towards a single word, every element of the experience must be filtered through the lens of that word.

The first task then is to determine what that word is or should be. It’s an important first step because it must have the legs to support everything you do – perhaps every decision you make.

Ask your community

A great starting point is to measure what you community thinks your promise is today in their view. Start by casually asking 8-10 or your ideal clients what one word they would use if asked to describe your business to a friend.

You may find some consensus or you may find that your brand promise is apparently as muddy a farm pond in July. (For reference this is when the cows like to go swimming.)

If your brief research projects validates a word for you then your job is to simply exploit that word. If, however, you end up with soup variety, you must back up and determine where your brand promise is lacking or worse, careening off track. Start by mapping all the actual and potential touchpoints you have with prospects and clients and see if you can inject the promise of a single word into each.

Decide on owning a word

I decided long ago that the word I wanted to own was practical. First off, I saw an opportunity in the world of marketing because small business owners thought marketing was anything but practical. To me, this spelled an opening that I could charge into.

The fact that I actually enjoyed making seemingly complicated things simple was all the more reason to own practical.

A rose by any other name

One of the first elements of a brand promise might be your organization’s name and colors – so, in my case it was essential that we projected practical with leanings toward trust. This is an area that often leads to trouble because so many businesses are named without any thought of a brand promise – Acme Plumbing, a name likely chosen to get listed earlier in the phone directory comes to mind.

Style is a promise

Once past the obvious logos and typefaces the real impact of design starts to show. A sense of style says as much about the personality of a brand as it does about a person. Think about those people you know that always look sharp, not overly dressy, just somehow more tailored. That’s what paying for good design delivers. You don’t always know just why you like it, but you know it makes you feel good about something.

Cliche as it may be to point out, Apple, for example, is a design company as much as a tech company.

Decisions need a filter

Perhaps the most valuable element of this way of thinking is that it makes it easier to decide what to build, how to market it, how to talk about it, who to hire, and how to prioritize.

Every time I write a blog post I think practical. Every time we create a course or product, every time we take on a sponsor, and yes, every time we look for fit in who we hire.

This is how you build the brand promise into something you can keep rather than something that sounds kinda good.

Culture is brand

Finally, every way, shape and form your business comes into contact with your prospects and customers a marketing function is being performed. That’s every email, every phone call, every sales pitch, every help desk request and maybe even every cocktail reception down at the Chamber.

The brand promise is something your people must live as well. Obviously this starts with teaching, but it must be reinforced as you edit email templates with your people, as you go over responses to customers as you design powerpoint decks.

The most important job of the leader of an organization of any size – including an army of one – is to build, project and protect the brand promise and that begins and ends with using your one word as the basis for everything you teach your staff to do – it’s how you create more decision makers and leaders and that may just be the best brand promise you can make.

Where Does Social Media Fit into the Customer Journey?

Businesses know that they must have a presence on social media, but they don’t know how to use it. The wonderful thing about social media is that there are multiple platforms and countless ways to use them. It can also be overwhelming for some business owners who begin social media marketing without a plan.

To understand how to use social media marketing, you first have to understand how your customers think. We’ve posted a lot about this idea customer journey a lot in the past, but it is critical to your customers. The bottom line is that there are seven behaviors that all of your customers exhibit as they interact with your company: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. It is your job to guide them through those behaviors.

You can use social media to assist in guiding several of these behaviors, particularly know, like, trust, repeat and refer. If you go into your social media marketing campaign with the mindset of achieving these behaviors with customers and potential customers, social media suddenly becomes much clearer.

But each of these behaviors requires specific tactics to achieve. Here’s how to use social media to guide your customers through their journey.


Social media is incredibly helpful in first introducing your customers to your business or product. Being active on social media, especially Google+, and engaging with your local community can help your SEO ranks. Often, social media channels will show up high on any local search. Frequently use keywords for which you want to show up in searches, and you can improve your search engine rankings in those keywords.

In addition, social media advertising has become more robust and effective over the years. You can target potential customers based on interest, who they follow or like, even location getting your brand/product or service in front of more of your ideal clients.


Because social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook give businesses unlimited opportunities to interact with their fans, you have a chance to get them to like you and your business beyond your product. Be active and present in local social events, even cheer on local sports teams during big games. Enjoy the moment with your community, and your community will respond.


The longer a person is engaged and likes a business on social media, the more likely they are to trust that business. Share customer testimonials and ask your customers why they like and use your product, prospective customers can see what value your product provides.

In addition, if you use social media as a customer service tool, (I’ll explain how later) potential clients can see and know that they will be taken care of after they buy.


At Duct Tape Marketing, we know that if you hold a customer’s hand for 90 days, you’ve kept them for life. Maybe the customer doesn’t need as much hand-holding. You can interact with them using social media to increase brand loyalty. If they post something related to the use of your product, respond and reach out. They’ll feel important to your business and want to continue to work with you.


Finally, you can use social media to not only get your customers to refer your business, but share those referrals with other potential clients. Ask your customers to tweet with a photo using your product, or post a picture of the completed service on Facebook. If you share and retweet those referrals and endorsements, you can reach an even larger audience than the individual networks of your customers.

Social media platforms are powerful tools to help you market your business. Knowing which behaviors your customers exhibit, and how to tap into those behaviors on social media are critical to having a successful social media plan.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

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