Brand Strategy provides the vital foundations for an organization’s personality. It sits in a little understood realm; a place where business strategy, creative design, product creation, and customer feedback all converge. Strategy can be thought of as the wireframe upon which every touch point of the company sits. Without it, a brand is doomed to inconsistency, and will fail to win the trust of its target market. With a strategy in place, this vital foundation allows businesses to refine, elevate and sharpen their message.
Our homegrown Brand Strategy process evolved from many years’ experience in offering design services. After working with hundreds of businesses, we observed ambitious companies making the same mistakes, which ultimately cost them time, money and emotional drawdown in the long run. Over time, we found strategies to preempt and resolve these mistakes in the conversation before undertaking design work. Over time, this conversation transformed into a structured workshop, our Brand Strategy session.
We trace this situation to three key errors that companies make when thye’re seeking to re-brand, whether they’re blank slate startups, or organizations that want a refresh.
First mistake: confusing branding with design. Business owners typically approach us with a branding proposal, in the form of a logo redesign or website. A brand is how a company feels to its clients and product end users; it isn’t contained in single design asset, but in how the entire user experience of a company is crafted. When business owners commission an isolated logo, letterhead, or website, they’re both devaluating the power of design, and doing their brand a disservice. Design is redundant unless it fits within a coherent strategy, that’s built to last.
Second mistake: startups and aspirational business owners typically self-diagnose their company’s brand. They then find themselves in an awkward art direction role, with designers who are attempting to interpret a business owner’s specific needs. We’ve found that this common error leads to extremely substandard results, as neither business owner nor designer are in a position to create a definitive creative brief, ideally built on the confidence and flair of a qualified impartial observer.
Third, startups reflexively cut costs. Of course, we understand that bootstrapping is often a necessary aspect of business. But devaluing coherent branding has nothing to do with good or bad design: in a business owner’s absence, the touchpoints of a company – the website, collateral and positioning – are the owner’s ambassadors. If they cannot excite and delight the target, the business is tethered to the limited availability of personnel. In an interconnected world, this vastly limits a brand’s potential. The immediate desire to cut costs, employ cheap or free labour kills brands and creates emotional and fiscal drawdown in the long term.
Brand Strategy is a structured workshop created to solve all of these problems. It’s a collaborative conversation that dives deep into a business’s personality, business strategy, goals, target market, ideal clients, and brand scope. We’ve found that this is the best way to serve our branding clients; rather than offer design as an answer to a company’s self-diagnosed need, it allows us to develop a coherent creative brief generated from the unique personality and goals of each business. Brand Strategy uncovers ‘the why’ in a business. It also gives companies the flexibility to choose their design provider. In any case, they walk away from our Brand Strategy session with a complete understanding of their own brand, allowing it to be communicated clearly and quickly to any designer, shared to an internal design team, or socialized amongst key company decision-makers.