When I work with a company founder to define their personal brand – we talk a lot about the undertone of their brand. The subtle, ancillary touch points that silently communicate a brand promise. A brand is not just a logo, it’s the positioning in your customer’s mind. It’s important to be intentional about the subtle ways you are defining your brand or you could create a lot of confusion with your target market.

Here are five ways to define your brand undertone.

Tell It With Color

Color communicates so much and it’s on a subconscious level. More than anything, color will carry forward an energy you want your target market to experience. We all know there is psychology to color, so choose colors that describe the energy you want to convey.

Choose a color that is aligned with how you want your customer to feel. Do you want them to feel warm and cheery? Communicate that with yellow. Do you want them to feel grounded and natural? Communicate that with green.

The workout phenom, Orange Theory, intentionally chose the color orange to convey energy, high spirits and enthusiasm. They’ve even taken it as far as to make sure the room glows orange while you workout.

Even the absence of color will communicate It’s a simple choice, but the colors you choose will carry the heavy load when it comes to the undertone of your brand.

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Tell It With Imagery

One of the first touchpoints your target market will have with you, is your website. Your website is your virtual storefront and it needs to visually communicate your brand. The undertone of your brand can be communicated with images, and those images need to communicate your brand promise–the results you are presenting.

If you have a physical therapy clinic, you might be serving people who are in pain. But the images need to communicate the results you are promising: active, happy people who aren’t in pain. Choose the right imagery and your website will be the best sales person you could ever have. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Tell It With Theme

Some brands have an overt theme that is completely in your face – brands like Medieval Times, Caesars Palace Casino, or Outback Steakhouse, have a distinct theme that is the epicenter for all of their branding choices, and do a great job of defining their brand’s undertone. Benefit Cosmetics has the retro-harlequin-romance novel vibe that customers adore.

Beyond that though, there are themes that can feel a bit more subtle. Brands like Omega, are known for their Swiss Timepieces with an undertone of maritime. It’s not overt, but you can feel it through product naming and back story. And don’t be fooled into thinking that personal brands can’t have a theme – just take a look at Hugh Hefner or Martha Stewart. They both have very distinct themes within their personal brands.

Using a theme is a great starting point for finding ways to insert branding touchpoints that feel subtle but are powerfully noticed.

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Tell It With Music

I once had dinner in a very small, very expensive Italian restaurant in La Jolla, CA. Everything was so authentic and at the end of our meal, our waiter started singing an Italian aria standing at the foot of our table. It was incredible, I’ll never forget it. If, for a moment, I forgot I was in an Italian restaurant, all doubt would have been removed right then and there. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Music can be a wonderful extension of your brand tone. From the music playing in your brick and mortar store, to the music you choose for the intro of your podcast – it will set an undertone for your brand. Do you want your brand to exude energy? Choose music that is upbeat and fast paced. Do you want to exude relaxation? The latest chill playlist on your favorite streaming device will give you some ideas.

Tell It With Partnerships

Aligning with the right partners will lend a lot of brand credibility and positioning to your efforts. This is a really smart strategy, but you must be very selective with who you partner with, whether it’s with an influencer or a mega-brand. We’ve all seen brands pull out of partnerships due to unsavory behavior or policies from the other party.

“Be intentional about aligning yourself with the right partners because it will greatly impact your brand’s positioning. People will assume you have similar values to the brands you collaborate with, for better or worse, so choose wisely,” says Baily Hancock, a collaboration consultant and strategic partnership specialist.

Finding a partner that has a good reputation and aligns well with your efforts is a great way to establish a strong brand undertone.

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