The Key to Ensuring Smooth Sailing When Creating Your Brand
There you are. Right in the middle of building your brand, and things couldn’t be going any better. It’s been smooth sailing the whole time – you have created a name that you love, your visual brand development process has produced logos, color palates and collateral that are aesthetically appealing and have you sure they are on the fast track to iconic status.
But don’t start printing the “best new brand” certificates quite yet.
It could make itself known in a number of ways. Maybe you have a dream of one day expanding your offerings to include new products, and you realize your current name would be outdated. Or maybe your logo, for all its beauty, is unable to stand on its own as a representative of your brand.
However it comes up, the problem is still the same – in the race to a new brand, you forgot one important piece of equipment: a strong brand strategy.
Not to worry – this is a situation in which many organizations find themselves when developing their brands. The need to get out of the blocks quickly and to get tangible brand elements created often overshadows the need or desire to make step one of the process a strategic one.
As you can probably guess at this point, this is a mistake. A strong brand strategy is the crucial foundation on which a brand is built, and without one (to keep going with the construction metaphor), your brand is likely to crumble.
Build Your Brand Like You’d Build a Product
To put it another way, let’s compare building your brand to creating a new product, such as a new toy.
Now, it would be nearly impossible to find an organization that would begin production of the new toy before doing the necessary background research and answering the key questions that will outline the toy’s features. Market analysis, competitor audit, features discussion, and more – these decisions drive the rest of the toy production process, and without the associated answers, production would resemble a directionless trek toward a hopeful (but unlikely) success.
Brand development falls in this same path. And the brand strategy is equivalent to making the decisions that drive the process. In fact, many of the same questions that are answered in toy production are also answered in brand strategy development, such as where will the brand/product fit in the competitive landscape, who is the target audience, and what is the desired end result?
The answers to these questions serve as the starting point for the entirety of the brand strategy, and overall branding, development. They touch each aspect of the process, driving how your brand will look, sound, present and position itself, etc.
Not to mention, these answers will identify in which areas there is an opportunity to connect across elements – for instance, you may find that your audience does the majority of their shopping online, therefore your strategy will involve a heavy digital section, ensuring that your name is easy to spell and has an available URL, and that your logo is easily translated to digital screens of all shapes and sizes.
Look Long Term Now, So You Don’t Have to Try Again Later
It’s not enough to just look at these questions in a vacuum, however. One of the hallmarks of a successful brand strategy development and planning concept is to examine each section with a big-picture and long-term mentality. This will prevent a short-sidedness that inevitably creates a brand that is on the fast track for rebranding status much sooner than it should.
Take the aforementioned name issue, where your organization expands or changes its product offering, rendering your name outdated and unconnected to what the brand currently represents. In this case, the decision must be made to either stick with the current name, hoping that any brand equity that has been built up is enough to bridge the newly formed gap between name and brand, or move in a new verbal branding direction, essentially starting over in your brand’s path to relevancy and recognition.
In summary – do you want to create a long-lasting, differentiating brand in a way that is truly smooth sailing? Do you want to ensure that your brand development process covers all of the necessary elements, setting the brand up for success now and in the future?