Mind your S.M.I.L.E

Like you, I loathe it when people tell me that I should smile or smile more. No worries, this email is not me telling you your resting face isn’t pleasant.

There is this popular business naming practice which ensures that your company’s name has all the elements or qualities which lead others to resonate with it and be fascinate by it. This is a philosophy-based technique using the acronym S.M.I.L.E.

I believe this is a powerful tool which can actually be used beyond the business naming application. Think of it as a strategic list to build a successful brand and to go back to through the years to keep your brand where it belongs — the heart and mind of your target audience.

So what’s that S.M.I.L.E about and why should you mind yours?

S for Suggestive
Being suggestive comes down to the ability to call forth or form a concept into the mind of anyone who encounters your brand. Essentially. it is about evoking something to someone in a way that arrests them and provokes some type of reaction from the association. Strong brands diligently work at keeping their concept, theme, and positioning in their audience’s mind.

M for Meaningful
This one is self-explanatory — we’re in the territory of resonance. Giving meaning to your brand is simply connecting on common values with your target audience. In other words, find what’s meaningful to them and emphasize that in your communication and your action. Meaning is the glue and motivation of human connection, which is a reality successful brands have embraced. People build brands and people buy from brands.

I for Imagery
Imagery is both the hardest and easiest one of these. We live in an extremely visual world — we love our aesthetics! Translating your brand concept into a set of visuals is both powerful and challenging as it requires creative skills and the discipline of consistency. Impactful brands put the effort and invest in intentional design. Every graphic is a little loaded arrow meant to woo the right person.

L for Legacy
The L actually stands for a few things depending on the application of this practice (‘Legs’ as in giving room for your brand concepts to keep on growing or ‘Language’ for brand voice and/or copy). I like the idea of legacy. Yes, your brand can unapologetically be a selling machine but it should also be pursuing more than monetary gain. There should be a clear-to-others, long term legacy-driven purpose to what you do, what you stand for. More than ever, brands are expected to carry and support a cause. Their audience wants to know what it is, what they’re doing about it, and wants to participate even. It’s a point of connection and a purchase motivator.

E for Emotional
Your brand should always make them feel something. Over 50% of purchase decisions are emotionally based. Brand directors cannot overlook that fact. Your brand identity can look as beautiful as possible but if it doesn’t make them feel anything, it is pointless. Your story can have the best format and form but if it doesn’t trigger any strong emotion, it won’t connect and convert. No matter the industry, successful brands know how to pull at our heart strings and how to speak the language of emotions.

This is a simplified presentation of the S.M.I.L.E. acronym. You can obviously go deeper with each category. This is also a tool that can be used at different stages of your brand. A starting business or a business in need of realignment could benefit from going through each element and making sure it is not lacking — see it as a blindspot checker essentially.

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