Every time I meet with a new client or when I am having a conversation with a prospective client, the first thing we discuss is their business, what they are about, what do they offer that is different than everyone else. We look at their numbers, who is buying their products or services and what sets them apart from the competition.
"More businesses would fare better if they did this analysis before working on all the visual elements that seem so urgent at the beginning."
I call this part of my consulting process: the business analysis phase. I want that both my client and I are clear on exactly what is that the business is about. Without this business understanding it is effectively impossible to work on the brand definition and it all the elements that belong here: the message, the brand colours, the typography and yes the website.
For this I work through a set of questions with them. I call this the Business Analysis Consultation Questionnaire, you can access the published online version here anytime. In this analysis I have grouped the different sections I like to analyze to get a better idea of the business I am working with. The sections are 5: Goals, Business & Customer, Industry & Competition, Marketing and Skills & Resources.
For many of my creative clients this process is completely new to them but they soon realize the great benefits it has.
Why do I do this? I do it because Brand Direction is not about a logo design, or a colour or choosing an typography. It is about a coherent, specific, clear and engaging message. A message that takes many forms: visual (images, logo, colours, fonts), verbal (content, wording, themes), and behavioral (interactions, service, relationships) and that cannot be defined successfully without doing all this prior work.
And believe me, despite the fact that it sounds tedious (business analysis!) it is actually fascinating to work through it. When I talk to my clients about their business, when they answer these questions and when we brainstorm, I see how their energy lifts up and they are excited about it all over again. New ideas pop up and it becomes clear and easier to define their brand.
More businesses would fare better if they did this analysis before working on all the visual elements that seem so urgent at the beginning. In fact, in most cases, all the elements of a good brand strategy stem from understanding the business and defining you mission statement or anchor statement as the brand expert Karen Tiber Leland calls it.
I plan to guide you through this process using a number of steps that I use and that other strategic branding experts use and that include:
Defining your Mission
Brand Elements and Energy
Follow along and send me any questions you have on this topic and feel free to use my questionnaire to analyze your business.
Thanks for reading!
links for thought
Sharing resources with the creative community
Can you differentiate between branding and brand strategy? Read on.
An interview about the process of defining your brand strategy - for creatives.
The book I am reading.
Finally, this airline is doing great at customer experience and it shows.