A brand is something that should always be developing and built upon. No longer is it enough to redesign your logo every 10 years and leave it be. Brand now plays an increasingly important role in the strategy of an entire company and subtle changes are needed to keep up with the expectations of a modern audience.
So how do you implement changes and build a strategy without losing current brand recognition?
The key is preparation.
Developing a brand strategy doesn’t have to be complex, but the most successful will focus on the following:
- An understanding of current audience perception and identifying future audience growth
- Aligning the brand with the broader company strategy
“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.” - Wally Olins.
1. Audience (current and future)
Nearly every company will have more than one audience group. Investors are looking for something different than ‘front line’ employees; and the users of a product or service can vary greatly. The most successful brands will tailor their communication to suit their differing audiences depending on what it is and who it is primarily intended for. However, identifying and then focusing in on a ‘main audience’ is still key to developing a brand identity / logo which is consistant and clear.
a dozen eggs ran a workshop in the summer for a company who work in child services. They have a wide range of audience groups - and all their users are important to the business. However, giving equal priority to all users would have resulted in a messy visual identity and confused brand.
Instead, we needed to distill the company's audience groups and then prioritise them. The excerise guided the team to discuss and then pinpoint their main and intended audience - a tricky debate when ranging from the company's end clients (children between the ages of 8 - 12) to the middle men; police, solicitors, social workers, etc.
So how do you work out which audience is the priority?
First of all, write them all down - include internal audiences and, if appropriate, suppliers. An audience could be described as ‘a group of people who have a commonality’. Then, be brutal! Which audiences would be easiest to lose? Cross out as many as you can until you are left with a couple. Involve your team at this point - it’s great to get a number of different viewpoints. If you have access to data - use it.
There are a number of different tools /actions that are useful at this point:
- If you track sales via a CRM, then run a quick graph to test your theory about who your largest client base is / most profitable and see if it remains true.
- Do you have a few favourite clients / customer types? Ask your employees about who they prefer to work with (a specific client, or type of client)
- Your social media followers - searching through people who are interested enough to follow you may be a good indication of who your most loyal fans are.
Once you have an understanding of who your audience is, you need to profile them. You will have to resort to good old fashioned stereotypes at this stage! Where do they shop? What car do they drive? What are their interests? How are they most likely to vote?
YouGov lite is a handy tool to look at quick data driven profiles - choose a company that holds brand values similar to your own, and look at their customer profile.
“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing” - John Russell, President, Harley Davidson
The ideal at this stage is to find your audience, and ask them questions! The success of Airbnb rested on how much research they did into really understanding their community.
Then remember to keep up to date with them - perhaps buy a subscription to their favourite magazine, or occasionally shop where they do?
2. Brand values
Identifying brand values is a task that is far easier to undertake with a successful global multinational in mind. Apple, who again featured in the number one spot in Interbrand’s 2016 rankings, could be whittled down to three words; intuitive, bold and progressive. Fortnum and Mason would occupy a different space; traditional, sophisticated and refined.
Knowing your organisation's value words is a great place to start thinking about your overall brand strategy. Whilst the words themselves may not feature directly, the process of selecting them can be invaluable.
A few months ago we invited the board of a company to undertake a brand values exercise before we started their rebrand process. Every director in the board room knew their company inside out and found the process of selecting 20 words, that represented them, easy. The exercise became tricky when we asked them to jointly whittle the words down to 3. The conversations that followed were really interesting - debating exactly why classic represented their company over traditional etc. By the end of the exercise the board had agreed on a well considered set of words. They were on the same page about the rebranding of their business, and we had a clear and solid starting point.
Once you have established your brand values you can begin to scrutinise your organisation's design and communication. Does your latest mail shot match up with your three value words? Is it on brand?
At a dozen eggs we have developed a tool to help our clients find their value words. It’s simple and easy to use but can quickly identify whether all stakeholders are on the same page when it comes to brand.
Sign up now to get access to the tool and be kept in the loop for further insight in creating your brand strategy.