On my last newsletter I introduced the idea of Brand Strategy and why it is important to understand your business before intending to do any branding work.
There is a process and an order that helps us get as close to right as we can. Yes, chaos is good and as creatives, a lot of great work has come from chaos. However when it comes to solid and strong branding, chaos, is not necessarily the best way to go.
Oftentimes, I am called by a client to help them with their marketing plans, or their social media strategy, their website development, etc. Each and every time I need to help them take a step back: Do they know what their Mission is? Can they articulate their Brand Promise? Have they figured out what is their Brand Positioning? Can they tell me what kind of key benefits are they offering their target audience? Have they identified who their target or ideal customers are? I usually get a few puzzled looks, some panic, impatience, you name it.
The truth is, that once a business owner has done the work to develop the elements of their brand strategy, everything else falls into place. They suddenly understand what benefits are more valued by their customers, how they need to communicate in an effective way. Their voice and tone becomes clear and they know how to project themselves online and offline.
Here I am going to talk about the main elements when developing your Brand Strategy which you visualize in this slide I use during my brand strategy sessions.
Phase I - Messaging Framework
This is the groundwork for the definition of a brand. It means thinking, talking and writing down everything that helps us define the brand. My clients and I spend time going through a series of questions and discussing and highlighting elements from the customer side, from our internal capabilities and from the competitive landscape. Ultimately you should be able to clearly articulate the following elements:
- Brand Mission - the visionary angle. Why do you do what you do? What is your ultimate goal?
- Brand Story - Is there are relatable story behind your brand. How did the idea start?
- Brand Promise / Brand Statement - What is your brand about? A short statement that conveys what you do.
- Brand Positioning - It is that which defines you, your business, your brand. It must be specific enough to differentiate you from the rest.
- Target Audience - Who is your ideal customer and how best can you define them
- Brand Tone and Personality - Identify those adjectives that define your brand and that will set the tone of your communication.
- Brand Pillars & Key Benefits - Describe the top selling points of your brand and are accompanied by tangible benefits for your audience. Look at your customers, your internal resources and your competition to define this. These will be the focus points of your communication strategy.
- Mood board - I like to develop a mood board for each project, uploading the visual elements (colors, typography, lines, landscapes) that give a feel for the brand mood and aspirations.
Phase II - Brand Identity and Brand Guidelines
Once we have a clear blueprint of what the brand is about, we move to the design elements. In this phase, the designer will work using the brand messaging framework and the mood board as guidelines for developing any visual elements that will accompany the brand and the business in the different applications. This include:
a) Brand Identity: Logo and tagline, business collaterals, colors, typography, online and offline elements, signage and packaging.
b) Brand Guidelines: a A document that guides the use and application of the logo, colors, typography and any online and offline material. Because this is so eye candy. Check out this great example from the brand identity website (you can also just jump to their instagram!)
Phase III - Brand Implementation and Communication Recommendations
In this last phase we talk about how the brand strategy should be implemented and we make recommendations as to what kind of marketing activities will work best for your brand. I will dive into this area in my next newsletter so that the take out for today can be about the elements of the brand strategy.
Always thank you for reading!
links for thought
Sharing resources with the creative community.
- I love the definition and examples for creating a mission statement by this publication
- This Seattle based businesswoman uses it for identifying her new restaurants and this podcast illustrates it well: within you field, look for the gap in the market.
- The book I am reading because I believe that brands and businesses should always be responsible for what they do.