You’ve likely heard that a brand is more than your logo and tagline. But what is the process to strategically create a brand that expresses the best of your organization?
What Is a Brand?
A brand is the unique experience audiences have with an organization or product. It is the perception your customers have based on the accumulation of all experiences with the brand. This includes the product experience itself and all communications about it — website, social media, emails, customer service interactions. Virtually every point of contact with the brand contributes to a customer’s beliefs and feelings about it. In short, the brand is what people think of and expect when they hear your name.
Every organization is a brand, whether intentionally managed or not. Do the audiences you care about understand and connect with what you do? Is your brand memorable, compelling, and clearly understood? A brand created with intentionality is strategically grounded. And its creative expression brings it into reality through messaging and a visual identity that resonates across all audiences.
A Unique and Living Identity
Just like each of us, a brand is unique and quickly recognizable. If you’re a big-hearted, relational, outgoing person, people pick up on that pretty quickly. And while you may act a little different with friends than with casual work acquaintances, regardless of whom you’re with, you’re still recognizably you. Similarly, a brand is unique and easily recognizable. And although its core characteristics remain the same over the years, just like people, no doubt it will evolve and may even need a reinvention from time to time to adapt to changes and realign priorities.
When Verve Marketing Group develops or relaunches a brand, we seek to uncover the core attractiveness that never changes. The brand promise is founded on the organization itself (or product, if product branding) and capitalizes on a meaningful distinctive compared with similar competing organizations. Brand strategy and development articulates the best of what the brand has to offer and expresses it in a compelling, recognizable identity.
Why Purposefully Create and Manage Your Brand?
A purposefully created brand is strategically grounded and leverages your marketing efforts. It is an ongoing effort that increases efficiency — and profits.
Consistent messaging, look and feel leverages all the communication about the brand. It creates stronger memorability. And it makes it easier, (i.e., quicker, cheaper) to create marketing content and promotional materials.
The brand process itself often leads to greater focus within an organization. And that consensus can help direct decisions and prioritizing. For example, decisions related to product initiatives, resource allocation, staffing, and budget often benefit from the clarity of the branding process.
The Brand Platform Sets Foundational Strategy
While every situation is unique, creating a brand starts with a strategy phase that informs the creation of the brand’s identity in messaging, look and feel.
The Verve Marketing Group brand platform encompasses these key facets:
Strategy starts with an understanding of the envisioned future of the organization incorporating purpose, values, and consideration of target audiences. This captures the mission, passion, and purpose of the brand and is the internal perception of the brand.
It’s at this stage where we also want to understand where the gaps are between who you are and want to be versus how customers perceive you.
Next, we seek to understand and articulate the unique strengths of the brand from the customer’s point of view. What do loyal customers specifically like about the brand and how does it compare to competitive options? Research may uncover gaps in perceptions by internal leadership and customers. For example, agreed upon strengths and distinctives may turn out to not be as highly valued by customers as internally perceived.
This is a succinct, credible promise that connects with all audiences. By credible, we mean that it is true to product itself or to the organization if corporate branding.
The articulated brand personality describes the brand’s values, beliefs, core attributes, personality, and behaviors. The analogy of a brand being like a person is very apt. Just like a person, a brand is unique. It will also continue to grow and change while still being recognizable at its core. The organization will develop new products and retire old ones. Marketing campaigns will come and go. Communications will evolve and reflect the changing macro environment. Yet the core things about the brand, the brand equity, continue on.
Brand Messaging, Look, and Feel Brings It to Life
Brand identity is the created look, feel, and words that express your brand. Your visual identity is developed from the raw elements of color, typeface(s), use of space, photography and images, graphic elements, textures, logo usage, etc.
Key messaging can include key message points to emphasize across all communications, tagline, and a concise story narrative that connects with all audiences.
We also develop a central creative concept with headline and key visual to support awareness and frequency across media. A brand style guide documents the messaging, look and feel guidelines for anyone creating communications for the brand.
Your Brand: A Valuable Asset Worth Protecting
Purposeful branding helps cause an increasingly larger number of people to become brand advocates — people who are emotionally attached and strongly loyal. Branding is an art and a science, founded on strategy, and expressed in story and design. It is a valuable business asset to be nurtured and protected.
Contact Verve Marketing Group to start the process of purposefully shaping a brand that reflects the best of your organization.
This article is edited from “How are Brands Created?” by Joan Begitschke, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer at Verve Marketing Group, published October 2018.