Building a sustainable brand, a piece of cake when you know how?
Sometime ago a start-up approached us to work with them and their new company. They were “dead-set on doing it right”, they weren’t going to cut corners or rush their product to market as they wanted to build a sustainable brand. Wanting to establish themselves in the market and make sure that 20 years from now they could look back and say “they’d done it right”! So, I put together a bespoke branding quote outlining the process and all the deliverables which included al the detailed steps along with a retainer for the first year.
Even though many would see it as justified or even a bargain, the quote was rejected on the account that they had received a lower quote. “Fantastic” I said to them, “if you’ve be able to get your branding done for less, then all the best”. But in my mind, I knew that wouldn’t be the last I’d heard of them and sure enough 3 weeks later, I received a call.
A “gross misunderstanding” had occurred, and a “friend of one of the directors” had “designed” them a logo. Just a logo. Plucked from obscurity, something that vaguely resembled the industry they were in and so ubiquitous that it practically looked like 50% of their competitors.
In this case, both the client and the budding designer had never been educated as to what the word “brand” really means.
Once it was just an unnamed process-driven after effect, now it has been thrown around for so long that it is used by celebrities daily on social media and turned into a buzzword that has lost its true meaning.
Someone once said to me that a brand “is not what you look like or what you do, it’s what people say about you when you leave the room”. It’s the essence left behind, the feeling that stirs inside the audience, your reputation. And most importantly, like a perfect cake, it must be made with all the correct ingredients, in all the right measures.
How to bake a brand:
5 steps to getting it right
You need to understand before you can start building. Talking to your customer, clients and audience should be the first step in creating your strategy. You may have a great instinct but the results from workshops create a stronger foundation for any brand. It not only aligns internal opinions, values and goals, but also can throw-up ideas from the target market that you didn’t even have in your peripheral. Taking the time to do this simple step can make all the difference, so don’t overlook it.
2. Planning and Strategy
It’s the one time you can have total control. So now you know exactly where you stand, you’ve outlined your brand values, you know the position in the market you are aiming at and everyone is behind you. Now you need to map out what you are going to do and outline how you are going to do it. Key points of your strategy development like name, values, behaviours and attributes need to be set out based on your research alone. You also need to set out how you intend to reach your audience, be clear on your messages and take time to be innovative. It is only once you have these in place that you can create.
That bit that looks, sounds and feels good. If you have had the foresight to include your designer on your journey to this point so far, they will be firing on all cylinders like you. It makes briefing them so much easier and avoids any second guessing and questioning of the research. It is also very important to give the creatives space to work. Don’t be self-indulgent, they are the specialists so let their minds explore the options, after all this is going to last a long time so give them time to get it right. Think of them as doctors trying to resolve your issue. They have looked at all the evidence and know how to treat it.
It is here that the designers and writers build the toolbox for the brand, this goes towards generating the emotional connection. If you have the right creatives on the job, they should bring back something that connects the research seamlessly to what comes next, the test.
Now that is all done, let us go back to the start. Technically speaking this is constantly ongoing from the minute you collect your research. You test all your work at planning, strategy and creative to check you are on the right track. Now you take your refined routes back to the workshops to see if they react how you intend them to (however people in a room always seem to want to have an opinion so keep an eye on that). It’s there to make sure you are always on the right path even after you have launched and is crucial to collecting as much information as you can to measure your success.
It’s all there, now don’t mess this bit up! It looks good, sounds great, hits the mark with the research and has tested perfectly. Now it is time to get it out there. Unfortunately, it’s not just a big golden button you hit and you start getting messages on LinkedIn congratulating you. This is probably one of the most critical parts to getting your brand positioned in the market and hugely influences its performance from a commercial point of view. Referring back to what I said earlier about people talking about you when you leave the room, a lot of that is about how you enter the room and those first impressions. Your plan and strategy should be rock solid and all the routes to take to launch your messages and creative should be collected in a consistent campaign.