Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Brand strategy goes way beyond your company name, logo and colours; it’s the guiding principles of your company, the way you do business and your own voice. Even if you do not have these formally established, don’t panic, oftentimes they are there – you just have to tease them out then define them. We find that workshops with various members of the business (not just marketing teams!) are a really useful way to draw out the context of the brand.
Define the important characteristics of your brand, including; positioning, purpose, corporate culture, preferred personality – cutting through the clutter and getting straight to the really good stuff – the meaningful reasons behind who you are, what you do and why. We need to build strong foundations before we even think about the design
Our top 5 tips uses an adaptation of the branding framework developed by Michael Johnson:
1. Investigate - before you start any brand work you must understand and fully investigate your customers, market, competitors, and industry. This is where your branding project should, and must, start. Only by mapping, interrogating and understanding the issues can you start to unpick the strategic problem, see the gaps and plan where to go next. We have another blog on this (why consumer insights matter).
2. Strategy & narrative - once you have fully understood your customers and market, the context of the brand you can begin to define it and move to developing your branding. As a general rule, these are the activities which will begin to define your brand.
Purpose – why are you doing this? Values – your core beliefs ? Personality – how would you describe the brand, what are you like? Promise – what do you offer and promise to always deliver to your customers? Positioning – how are you different, where do you fit in the marker, validate this (go back to your research phase)Tone of voice – how you ‘speak’ to your audience across all communications. Brand messaging – core message which is clear and repeatable, internally and externally.
3. Design - When you've fully developed and have validated all the above, you can move on to the design - the visual identity that you're brand represents (logos, fonts, colours, textures, brand guidelines etc).
4. Implementation - this is where all the hard work from steps 1-3 come in to play. Start to think about how the brand will be implemented, build a useable toolkit which allows multiple people and work streams to take place yet ensure they are coherently branded (we call it a playbook). Understand which brand assists do you need to implement your brand consistently. Use the brand guidelines as much as possible (don't file them away!. Plan which media channels to use. Remain flexible and adapt during this stage.
5. Brand communications plan - here you need to start nurturing and growing your brand. Engage with your audience and internal teams. Develop a clear brand communication strategy that keeps your brand at the front your customers mind. And don't forget part of this phase is to also fully ensure the brand is understood deep within your organisation and culture.