5 minute read

Building a brand

At some point in their lives, every creative person is going to work with an executive who just doesn’t get it. They don’t want a brand identity, they just want a fresh logo... Oh, and try to make it pop a little more! For many creatives, this can be a tough person to work with, but I’ve found that they’re usually very receptive once you start speaking their language, and that language is usually revenue.

See, what you need to make abundantly clear is this - Building a brand isn’t about pretty colors or cool logos, it’s about building an identity that resonates with your customers and, ultimately, makes them want to do more business with you. As the great philosopher, Joe Dirt, once said...

So how can you apply this principle with your brand? It’s simple. By following these three steps, you should be building a brand that resonates with your consumers, makes you more money, and makes that pesky executive happy in no time!

Step 1: Discovery

This is the single most important aspect of any branding effort, but it’s also the single most overlooked. Many in-house marketers make the mistake of thinking that they know their company’s brand simply because they’ve worked with it for years. What they’re forgetting is that they have a very skewed perception of their brand. They may over-value their product, under-value their competition, or misunderstand why people are actually buying their products. This type of blindness could be devastating towards your branding efforts. To avoid this, follow this formula during the discovery process:

  • Big Vision - Interview high-level executives as to what they think your brand stands for. These guys know where they want the brand to be in 5-10 years.
  • Practical Know-How - Interview managers and individual contributors on the product team. They know the ins and outs of your product (and many of your competitors’ products as well). They know where the brand is going in the immediate future.
  • Where Are We Today? - Interview salespeople in your organization. These people know why your customers buy and, more importantly, why they don’t buy. They’re a great resource for competitive positioning.
  • Where Do Our Customers Think We Are? - This may be a shock for some, but people lie. Just because your customers say they buy for a certain reason doesn’t mean it’s true. Talk to your current customers as well as customers who may have left for a competitor and learn more about their motivations.
  • Good Old Fashioned Research - At this point you’ve probably heard a few competitors come up multiple times. Now it’s time to bust out the trusty Google Machine and do some good old-fashioned research. Find out what they’re offering, what they’re not offering, and see if you can learn what their customers are saying about them. Research their site and, if applicable, sites like Yelp!, Angie’s List, Glassdoor, Google Reviews, and Facebook reviews.

Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to sit down with your (countless) pages of notes and get to work.

Step 2: Defining an “Ownable” Voice

Always start with your perspective. What perspective in the marketplace can you really own? What’s something that’s unique to your brand? Start overlaying all of the feedback you received in step one and figure out where you’re uniquely positioned. This process can take a lot of thought, but it’s paramount to building an effective brand. For a helpful resource on stage 2, check out Blue Ocean Strategy, the best-selling book on brand positioning.

Once you have your unique perspective, flesh it out into a fully-fledged voice. You’ll want to document the following components of your brand voice before moving on to step 3:

  • Your Brand’s Boilerplate - What is it that you do and why? What’s your story? Make sure to incorporated a great positioning statement.
  • Your Elevator Pitch - What is it that makes you unique? Why should people do business with you?
  • What Your Brand Believes - It’s important that you understand what your brand believes in and why. Do you believe in creatively attacking problems, or do you have a data-driven approach? What can you boldly stake claim to that no one else in your field can?
  • What Your Brand Sounds Like - What voice most resembles your brand? Is it someone cool like James Dean or is it someone thoughtful like Neil deGrasse Tyson?

Once you’ve documented these answers, it’s time for step 3.

What is it that makes you unique? Why should people do business with you?

Step 3. Building a Brand Identity System Around That Voice

Finally, it’s time to do the work that designers love... building a brand identity system. The key here is to build a visual identity that complements the positioning that we did in the first two steps. By doing this effectively, you can not only build a brand that gets results, but be able to express clearly to your executive team why your brand is important to protect. As you build out your brand identity guidelines, make sure to make them easy to understand and easy to defend when people try to break them!

If you can implement these three steps effectively, I’m fully confident that you’ll be able to build a brand that will work for you, your customers, and your executive team alike. For more information on creating on awesome brand, make sure to download a free chapter from Bold Brand, by Josh Miles!

That’s it. Simply follow the steps above and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a brand identity that will resonate with your employees, your customers, and future prospects. The best way to start this process, however, is with a solid brand audit. For help auditing your brand, click the button below to download our FREE Brand Audit!