Marketing Director, This is Milk
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
– Seth Godin
'Brand' is the entire picture of your company as perceived by everyone who interacts with you - either directly or indirectly. Pinpointing your brand strategy – what you stand for, your core message and your vision – is crucial. Great brands have the power to make people desire, trust and place a value on their services. They are managed carefully to ensure that the core message and values of the company is conveyed through everything they do and is simple, clear and consistent across every touchpoint. Clarifying this information from the very outset can save a lot of time and effort further down the line. A stable brand is your anchor, that should act as a constant reminder to your customers and employees of what your company stands for. If you want to achieve your business goals you need to define your brand strategy clearly.
Did you name your business and start sketching your logo from the moment your business idea took hold? Stop a minute…. Before you go anywhere near logo design, naming or tone of voice, there are some crucial components you need to get straight first. Ascertaining these will make all of the foregoing far easier to create, and far more relevant. It will also make the final product closer to your vision, and truly reflective of what makes your business tick.
Be clear in your mind about exactly who you want your brand to be - I like to think of brands as people. What are they like? Who are their friends and network (think customers/supporters)? What do they sound like? What do they stand for – and what do they stand against? I describe this as figuring out what your brand is INSIDE before unleashing yourself to the OUTSIDE.
What defines a brand?
- Mission: what does your company stand for? What's the core message that you want to express to the world?
- Values: what do you care about? What are your beliefs?
- Customers: who are you trying to resonate with? What do they care about? What are their goals?
- Products: What do you offer your customers to improve their lives?
- Behaviours: how do you conduct yourself?
- Culture: what does it feel like to work there? Who are the people that represent your business?
- Competitive Edge: what makes you different from the rest? How do you stand out?
- Experience: how will your customers work with you and use your products/services?
- Channels: where will you conduct your business and where can people find you and interact with you?
Take some time to really explore these facets of your business. Do all of these areas align to your core message? And if not; why? What needs to change to ensure that they do? The time you put in at this stage of the planning process is time well spent. It’s far easier to design your brand with a blank canvas than it is to attempt this feat further down the line. People tend to be good at imagining things but not so good at reimagining them.
OK, so now you’ve done your homework and laid out your strategy (the what and the why – your core message) – it’s time to work out how to bring it life . What will your brand look, feel and sound like?
- Name: what are you going to call yourself and what associations does this name elicit?
- Logo: what icon, colours and typeface will you use, and how will these be perceived?
- Style: what identifiers, aside from your logo, will you have, such as imagery, site design and typography?
- Tone: how do you want to sound – cool and hip? Wise and experienced? Corporate and classy?
If you’re not a designer, outsourcing your visual brand is something you can and should do. A word of warning - vague, incomplete or generic briefing is dangerous and could waste you money, resulting in a number of false starts.
So before you start, think. Do your research, outline your strategy, study your competitors, identify what drives you and forecast your future. If your business plays out the way you imagine it should, will the same branding still fit your company five years from now?
This might seem like a lot to factor in when you’re probably more concerned with getting your business off the ground. But take it from me, when it comes to devising marketing campaigns, pitching to investors and presenting to industry leaders further down the line, you’ll be grateful you nailed your brand strategy before so much as a Photoshop logo was mocked up.
One of the things we love to do at This is Milk is help companies articulate and visualise their brand. Before we delve into plotting social media strategy, re-marketing campaigns, web design and umpteen other tasks, branding is the first thing we look at.
Struggling to define your brand? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
More about what we do.