Brand is reflected in every interaction the outside world has with your company. It’s the emotional connection your audience has with your company. Building a really strong brand takes a lot of work.
Any designer worth their salt can create a nice looking logo, but that won’t get far on its own. Although it’s my favourite part, a strong brand doesn’t come from thin air, but is uncovered and discovered within the very fibre of your company culture and your differentiator, and given aspiration by your goals. The creative execution simply gives it voice.
I’ve seen and lead several types of branding sessions – focused on differentiator, or focused on positioning, etc. There are specialists who have methodologies they will insist on following for all prospects. I believe it’s important to customize the process to the individual business situation and goals.
If you are just starting out you could focus on positioning and not spend a lot of money knowing you’ll want to redo it in a few of years when you know your company and marketplace better. A good logo, tagline and positioning statement will get you started.
Maybe a few years in you have established yourself and evolved, you have become more sophisticated and your brand should reflect that. You know your audience and where you want to go. You need help identifying your strongest differentiator and articulating it in a compelling way. You need a clearly defined vision and what you do every day to get there.
The brand becomes the logo, the tagline and how your people talk about the company. It shapes the way people view your company, internally and externally. You need this foundation to create and support the stories you tell in all forums and build the internal culture you want.
Comprehensive Brand Foundation
I recently lead a comprehensive brand foundation conducted by Andris Pone, co-author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo. It consisted of four sessions with key company people, and included vision, mission, core purpose, values, character, etc. Our client is mature and facing big changes as senior people prepare to retire and employees recently became shareholders. They wanted something deep and broad that the whole company could get invested in. They had a committee of ten participate in these sessions. The result is an authentic foundation that the team is proud of and sees themselves in. The CEO says it’s not hokey like he thought it would be. The next major task is a plan for rolling it out internally and externally, and to develop tools that will carry the brand forward. The logo is the least important element to them (though I’m looking forward to it).
Creative Brief Versus Brand Brief
The corporate identities we’ve worked on that start with a strong brand foundation are much more creative, stronger and more durable than logos from less substance. A strong foundation helps your brand reach far and high, build equity and substance. It can make your team proud and confident. It becomes the basis and yard stick for all creative briefs.