By: Nicky Logue
A strong brand strategy lets you influence how your company is perceived in the outside world. New businesses who spend the time crafting their brand strategy from the outset have a distinct advantage over the rest.
What is 'Brand'?
Starting a new business is exciting; there’s no doubt about it. But it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘rush to market’ and lots of businesses miss out on valuable time spent at the outset developing a solid brand strategy. And by that I don’t just mean the visual representation of brand, such as your logo, and the colours you use on your website. Your brand identity is much more than that. Here's one of my favourite answers to the question 'What is brand?':
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.
'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.
Where to start?
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?
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
Creating Your Visual Brand Identity
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?
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.
(Blog first published 16/03/2017)