I was on a phone call this week with a prospective client and received a compliment that resonated more with me than someone saying, “your website looks great” or, “we like your logo.”

She told me that she chose to inquire about our services because she felt that our brand, imagery and content all felt genuine to her. That we were real people she could trust with her business and not a company that was all polish and no substance.

I’m not telling you this to say that the Hook & Blade brand is the realest and most authentic brand ever (even though we are). But it got me thinking about what makes a brand feel authentic and genuine and what organizations should consider when developing their brand.

What’s the Story?

If you’re the leader of an organization or the owner of a small business and someone comes up to you and asks what’s the story behind your brand, do you have an answer?  A unique logo and sharp design is all well and good, but it helps to have a reason why you picked that logo and color.

Every brand has a unique origin story, different characteristics and competitive advantages. Every organization has a personality that sets it apart from the competition. Don’t discount what makes you special when writing your brand story. Embrace what makes you different and use it to your advantage.

And please, please, please do not just copy another brand’s look and change it slightly for your own look. You would be surprised at the number of companies that take the easy way out and assume that their competitor is successful because their logo looks a certain way so they decide to copy it.

What is Your Voice? 

Part of that brand story is a unique voice to use in both external and internal communications. What platforms will you use to communicate with your audiences and how will you sound to them?

The tone of your brand’s voice is important because it tells your audiences not just what you do, but what makes your organization go. Think about the vocabulary you use when communicating, how much humor to include and even whether or not you should use emoji on social media.

Consider creating a tone of voice sheet that outlines how your voice sounds with communicating with different types of audiences. Of course, you need to sound slightly different on Twitter or Facebook than you do when quoted in the Wall Street Journal. But the main feel and personality of your brand should remain the same.

Is it Consistent? 

Finally, once you’ve determined everything about your brand that makes it truly yours, make sure you keep the usage consistent across all of your platforms – online and offline. Don’t use a different logo on a print piece from the one you use on your website. Consumers are smarter than you think and they will notice these subtle differences. A consistent brand profile helps build a stronger trust between organization and individual.

Just as people appreciate meeting and building relationships with genuine people, consumers and individuals want authentic connections with the brands they use. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and show your brand’s real personality with your audience. You’ll be better off doing so.

 

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.