Brand strategy is all about establishing ways to create a brand that's going to be memorable. Parker Peterson with Dreamers explains the importance of branding and ways to successfully build your brand:
When you’re surrounded by a multitude of online services and never-ending amounts of articles, it’s pretty easy to get lost on where to start your company’s branding endeavors. I’m hoping to shed some light on where to start.
My name is Parker Peterson, and I am the Creative Director for Dreamers of Day, a creative agency located in Dallas, Texas that’s devoted to building immersive experiences and brands.
Often times people look for a creative partner in the wrong sense—the general perception of a brand is often strongly tied to visuals. Let’s be real, visuals are great and all… but the core concept of a brand identity goes far beyond creating a shiny looking new logo. There are multiple things to consider when choosing a creative partner.
Your creative partner should be great at communication. It’s just as (if not more) important that you hire someone that can clearly articulate their thoughts and ideas as it is picking a partner that fits your brand’s visual style. Remember, that they’ll be helping you define the brand’s core values and messaging while helping you strategize how you will communicate those thoughts.
Hire someone that’s honest. That sounds like common sense, but hiring someone that’s going to be transparent with you throughout the entire branding process is key. You’ll be investing a lot of time in your creative partner—it’s best to be sure that they’re a good human being up-front.
Stay away from hiring your third cousin who “took a graphic design class once.” This scenario comes up more often than not. Being on a budget is one thing, but you must be smart. Realistically, chances are that you have a contact that knows a real rockstar that will take good care of you. Always ask around. The best relationships are often times a referral.
Branding can single handedly make or break your company's future—so don’t leave your future success to a dice roll. Pro tip: don’t look at pricing online, as it will only lead you down a path of disappointment. If you have a thought in your mind that branding will cost you $50 then you’re doing it wrong.
It’s important to ask yourself a lot of questions when developing your new brand.
What’s my brand vision / promise? If it’s too complicated…stop. Come up with an elevator pitch and stick to it. Often times companies that have a mixed vision come to light through the owners or even employees. If you had a conversation with three of your employees, would they have the same vision of what your company does and what you’re looking to accomplish? If not, there may be a lack of direction there. Come up with a mission statement and stick to it. One thing to always remember is that your employees are a walking testament of your brand, so it’s best they understand it from ground zero.
What is my brand offering that others aren’t? There’s a lot of bloat and fluff out there. What is your brand doing that others aren’t? It’s often a challenge, but you must always keep what you’re doing differently top of mind with your brand’s audience and have a game plan for how you’re communicating those thoughts. Not to sound cliché, but often times you have one shot to leave an impression, so you have to make it meaningful. All of this really boils down to doing your homework and making sure you know the competitive landscape. Leave no stone unturned and do your research. The planning and research is pivotal in your future brand’s success.
Identify potential brand applications. The loyalty of a brand’s audience is reflective of how someone experiences a brand—no matter the medium. It’s a good idea to wrap your head around what sort of applications are right for your brand. Consider everything from business cards, to bus wraps, to the online presence. Make a list and keep it realistic. If you’re bootstrapping, make sure to prioritize by importance.
Remember to ask yourself “Where is my audience going to see my brand most?” You want to create applications that will leave as much impact as possible. Putting yourself in the shoes of the people advocating for your brand is also important. The more you think like your end user or consumer, the more you will be able to actively capture the characteristics that truly embody your brand and learn to market it to those potential mindsets or even help define the brand’s core demographic. Above all, don’t go crazy with applications that your audience will never see. There’s plenty of time for that. Sure, it’s fun to have your own branded coasters and all, but if you’re on a budget you must make every penny count.
Keeping things consistent is the key to helping drive your brand’s awareness and diminish any potential confusion. Make sure to use your secondary logo / mark sparingly and in the right situations in the baby phases of your brand. Keep your brand’s attitude consistent on every application that you let live in the wild.
Over time as you gain more value and recognition, you’ll be able to utilize more of your secondary messaging or visuals. There’s a reason Nike uses the swoosh on it’s own and can rock “Just Do It” on just about anything they please. The brand value is already established—but it took decades to build. Do your best not to overextend your brand and try to be as authentic as possible.
Keeping things consistent is the key to helping drive your brand’s awareness and diminish any potential confusion.
Ever heard the old phrase, “keep it simple, stupid”? No matter the brand application, it’s important that you don’t stray from what you’ve created or throw too much at your audience at one time. Make it easy to understand your brand, and you’ll build a community of advocation around it. Often times brands with too much going on can become confusing and sink into the static—or even worse, lose relevance.
Whatever you’re creating, create it with flexibility. You’ll always try to assume that you’ll know the potential brand applications—but it’s nearly impossible. Keeping things modular allows you to help bulletproof your brand for the future. Brands from fifteen years ago had to adapt to emerging technologies including apps and the likes—it’s important that you leave some room to “play” as you have no idea what the future really has in store.
As much as everyone likes to think they have it all figured out—it’s a farce. Try to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry. The world of marketing and design is constantly changing and adapting. If you don’t read—become a reader. Be strategic and study those who are leading the pack through thought leadership.
A brand’s ability to stay relevant can be very dependent upon how resistant the company is to change. So keep an open mind, and stay nerdy. It’s up to you to adapt and be smart about your brand’s future opportunities.
Ask as many questions as possible as you go through the branding process. Both to yourself and your creative partner. Trying and failing is a big part of it—and there are no absolutes.