Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Essential marketing questions: No. 3 of 5

We began our review of new marketing ideas with (1) If someone is looking for what you offer, where are they looking? Followed by (2) If they find you, what will they see?

Now … (3) Will you stand out in 3? 

3 what? Seconds of course.

We live in a frenetic, attention-starved world. It’s harder and harder to choose because choices keep growing. The result? We’re impatient. We don’t want to read and consider. We’re in “glance and decide” mode all the time.

This is especially true of the younger audiences, who were raised with technology–press a button and something happens. Click here, listen to that, watch this. Instant feedback. Quick decisions.

marketing ideas 3 of 5

The 3-second rule

Remember that old saying that if a tasty tidbit drops on the floor but you pick it up in less than 3 seconds, you’re safe? Let’s apply that here. In the count of three, slowly … one … two … three … we all make a decision to look further or to look away, whether at a brochure, a website home page, a display in a retail store, or one sign in a street full of signs.

That’s why you see people on street corners waving at you or dancing around in a costume or playing air guitar on a fake guitar. Their marketing idea is to get your attention for just a few seconds. Something that won’t happen if you just drive by the pizza place or tax service every day. That sign becomes wallpaper and you don’t notice it.

In our last post in this series, we talked about memorable branding to answer “if they find you what will they see.” Memorable branding is a visual and verbal brand you remember because it stands out … it’s different from what’s expected.

But the other level of standing out is getting noticed …

And communicating enough information so the visitor or viewer will look deeper. Of course you want to be memorable … yet you must stand out from all of those other brands screaming for attention. And you must stand for something. This is where branding comes to life.

Branding … visual and verbal. How does Starbucks stand out as a brand? Because it’s not about the coffee, it’s about the environment, the experience, the “oh let me just sit down and take some time for myself in this nice comfy chair” feeling. The total experience of language (who knew we needed frappuccinos or macchiatos?), the smells of the brewing coffee, the soothing and modern color palette, the tasty treats that all touch the senses and build the brand.

When Starbucks started, they stood out because they were doing something new and different with the coffee experience. At a glance they offered a new spin on coffee. But when you go deeper, there’s a richer story and experience too. Their marketing ideas carry through product, environment, music, service, language and style. No more Folgers or MJB.

Building the visual persona

Creating a brand that stands out requires a visual vocabulary. Colors are essential. Color can unify multiple messages and create recognition at a glance. The overall design style … funky and fun, or elegant and streamlined, or hip and eclectic … will influence how you’re perceived in mere seconds.

Think of your brand as a person walking towards you. How are they dressed? Colors and style. Your first impression is based on that style, that persona. Does your visual style, at a glance, say something about your brand? It can. It should.

Build your marketing ideas around the visual persona to ensure you stand out in 3 seconds or less. At a glance. Use visual style and a distinctive color to separate yourself from the rest of the crowd in your category. Use one visual idea (like the “got milk” white mustache campaign) to communicate quickly, in three seconds or less.

Visit our website to read more about the visual and verbal brand. Or check out our portfolio of work. We’ve built visual personas that reflect the client’s position and help them stand out in the crowd.

Is your brand on a product that sits on a shelf? In today’s cluttered retail stores, packaging is an essential “glance and grab” marketing idea. Build your visual persona, tell a story on the package, and you’ll see more sales.

Interested in talking further? We can build a visual persona that grabs attention, builds your story, and compels response. Drop me an email, or give us a call toll-free, 866.363.4433.

Your quick links to these essential marketing questions:

1. If someone is looking for what you offer, where are they looking?

2. If they find you, what will they see? 

3. Will you stand out in 3? (this post)

4. Can they quickly see “what’s in it for me?”

5. Is it easy to choose?

Learn more about positioning, building a strong brand, targeting the right audiences and defining your critical points of choice in our e-book: 10 steps to an optimized brand. Download it here.


About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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