Defining Your Brand
So the business idea is defined, the market has been researched and customers identified… but an often-overlooked part of starting a new business is ‘defining the brand’. Taking the time to implement a proper and thorough brand research process can be invaluable to the success of the business moving forward. Defining the brand values early on will help guide the business in how it communicates its ethics, morals and personality, and will make sure those are portrayed in a clear, concise and consistent manner to the correct audience.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
In short, a brand is a combination of the personality of the business, and its visual identity. And the success of a brand will be determined by how well those are perceived by the audience.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO
The Brand Personality is how the company behaves, how it speaks with its audience, including its tone of voice.
The Visual Identity is how the business will look to the eye. This includes everything from logo design, choice of fonts, colour palettes, style of photography, imagery, etc. A brand is not a logo; a logo is simply a badge, which represents all that the business encompasses.
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” Paul Rand, 1914-1996
The brand must be compatible with the business’ service, product and market, and it is important to research all of those elements early on to ensure they are agreed upon and defined. A good (and advisable) way to do that is to go through the process of a ‘Brand Workshop’.
The workshop provides a chance for all key stakeholders and decision makers to define the brand, and determine guidelines for future communications (e.g. website, marketing literature). These communication materials can then be produced knowing that the content is consistent with the agreed brand guidelines.
The overall aims of a Brand Workshop should be to:
- create a consensus amongst all key staff responsible for delivering the brand message
- define core principles, ethics and strengths
- determine a direction for new marketing/communication ideas
- arrive at a set of core brand values that can be implemented into all marketing and communication material
It is suggested that, structured properly, the workshop shouldn’t take any more than a working day. A well-executed workshop will consist of hourly practical exercises, in which the attendees will submit their own ideas about the brand direction, and explore other similar brands in relation to their own to help determine suitable values and visual identity.
The workshop activities should include:
Defining the target audience – what the business is marketing and to whom. Exploring the brand (through association) – this will help understand the values of other major brands, and help to examine those that lie behind their own.
Visualisation – look for a successful brand with similar values and audience to your own to help determine a visual direction.
Evaluate benefits & USPs – to help understand what the customer’s perception should be.
Determine a brand positioning statement – this should define the overall brand offering in a few choice words (elevator pitch).
Many people will have been present in a brand workshop at some point in their career. If not, it might be worth running an ‘investigatory’ brand workshop, to find out how your current brand is being perceived internally. It is vital to a brand’s success that it has the buy-in and full understanding of all employees, you may find that some employees may unknowingly feel entirely different about the brand than others, and that can lead to mixed communications and an inconsistent brand delivery.
It is advisable to utilise the services of a branding or creative agency to run your workshop. After a successful workshop, you should then expect any good agency to deliver the following to the client:
Findings from the workshop
- Brand concept map
- Mood boards
- Key Insights
- Finalised Brand Proposition (single minded proposition)
- Gather and deliver visuals from competitors and evaluate
- Make suggestions for successfully delivering the brand.
Once the results and findings have all been finalised and agreed, a set of Brand Guidelines should be produced, which ensures that everything agreed is down in black and white (or digital!). This will ensure consistency moving forward.
So get the donuts in, cancel all calls and get workshopping… your brand will thank you for it!