What goes into creating a brand? How important is strategy when, really, you want to get on with your business? The answers: a lot and very.
Over the next couple of months I am going to take you through the brand strategy and design process I follow to give you a more detailed look at what goes into creating a brand. To get started, let’s begin a little bit differently to explain why you should invest in brand strategy before anything else.
Let’s set the scene...
You are a brand owner or are responsible for managing a brand, you make the decisions about how your brand communicates with its audience or you’ll soon need to do so. You’re unsure about the best ways to build an audience, which platforms will work best for you and your business, and you might even be wondering about what your brand looks like.
So when it comes to creating your brand, how do you know what's the right way?
I listened to a talk recently from Dr Jordan Peterson, a psychologist, in which he spoke about how we are incredibly good at imitating things. He alluded to the idea that we are so good at it that we can effectively run another person's personality on top of our own – a bit like a computer program. This got me thinking about how brand owners have to do something similar: taking on the persona of your brand to act as a proxy for it.
As a brand owner or manager, you’re essentially responsible for shaping how your audience sees your brand. How do you want them to see your brand? A brand is so much more than a logo and a tagline. It’s much more about digging down below this surface-level way of thinking to define a new direction that is built around the subtle and nuanced way people act and communicate. This is where brand strategy can really make a difference.
So what is brand strategy?
A good way to think of brand strategy is as a template of a personality that you can apply to yourself (the way an actor takes on the character) when communicating as the brand.
Think about all the influences that go into making a decision. Firstly, create a clear picture of what you want to do, defining your long-term goals and aspirations. Then, drill down into the details of how to achieve them – task by task – exploring what options and resources you have available, who is involved (your brand’s audience) as well as what challenges you will come up against (your brand’s competition and market).
Once you have a plan of what we want to achieve and know what’s involved, what next?
This is where we start to understand who the brand is. We all have different archetypes that make up our personality and brands are no different. These are the deeply rooted instincts and traits that motivate us, affecting how we interpret a situation and interact with people. In a nutshell archetypes are distillations of a core story or idea which are brought to life as a character.
Disney is a good example of how the magician archetype plays out in the real world. Driven by a desire to make dreams come true, its character is visionary and imaginative. Disney isn't a literal magician but the idea that the brand embodies is one of a magician who can conjure up anything you could possibly want. Although archetypes are an abstract concept, they are often deeply relatable and as a result we are able to use them as a framework to connect to the traits and personality they embody.
For brands, working out the archetypes helps to define the underlying narrative that your audience can connect to and allow you to develop your brand personality and story. Understanding this gives you access to the details and character of how your brand should act and communicate with its audience.
This understanding of who your brand is, combined with a clear aim, gives you the basis on which to build your brand, and crucially, a clear reference for you to assess any strategic or creative decisions.
When thinking about how your brand communicates, imagine it is a person you know. Try to picture them and their unique and quirky character traits and ask yourself “what would they do?” or “how would they react?” or “would they like it?”.
Should you invest in your brand strategy?
One of the common traits successful people (and brands) have in common is that they have an aim for what they want to achieve and have committed to figuring out how to do it. Putting in the hours of hard work is a good start but if you don’t know what the aims are, it can be easy to get side tracked, lose focus or even go in the wrong direction. A well considered brand strategy is there to keep everything your brand does on target and in line with what you are trying to achieve.
Not sure where to start with your brand strategy? Not to worry, drop me an email and together we can develop yours.