Do you have a *brand*? What is your brand? How do you know when your brand becomes an “identity.” Is it when you design your logo? Is it hidden between the letters in your company’s name?
When does your brand begin to exist?
Branding strategy, shall you opt in to develop one, covers all of the questions above brilliantly. It takes patience. It takes time. But it’s so worth it.
In an ideal world, when an idea for a new company is born, alongside of their business plan, there’s a marketing plan drafted, as well as a branding strategy, followed by the actual brand identity development program. These (below) would be the steps you’d want to explore. In this particular order, to ensure your branding strategy is sustainable, cohesive and strategic (the one that will serve you as a foundation for all of your future branding and marketing efforts).
First things first. A detailed creative brief will be necessary to start off any marketing, or branding strategy. A typical creative brief would include some of the information you already might have in your business plan. Some branding agencies develop their own unique creative brief formula, that includes questions that are instrumental in the brand identity development process.
We, at Cucumber, have developed a creative brief that is being used for all projects we work on – branding, marketing or web design – we believe it’s all marketing, and all these tasks must go through a similar discovery process to ensure we start with the (business) goals in mind.
It all begins with the goal.
What is the vision for the business? What are the goals (short or long term). How do we want customers to feel when they interact with the brand. Why was the business created, what is the mission?
What is the BIG IDEA, behind the new organization. The WOW factor.
A good creative brief would have all the “right questions” to get all the right answers out of a client. Some of our clients who went through the creative briefing with us say:
- wow, these questions made me think of my business in a completely new way
- this was super helpful, and prompted me to understand my vision even better
- this helped me to visualize my goals
- this helped me to articulate my mission, that I had in my mind all along
(The better the mission is articulated in the beginning, the easier it will be to get your team on board with the brand. The more people you work with as the business grows, the more ideas and opinions people will have about the brand. Having a clear direction will ensure that your brand is not being diluted by new team members, as they join in.)
And once the vision and the goals have been articulated, then we can safely, and happily move on to step 2.
Choosing a name for your organization or your business could be an easy intuitive task, or it could be a very tedious process.
Most of the time, it is a tedious one though. You want to make sure you name is:
- Descriptive (to YOU)
It must resonate with your vision, and your tone of voice. It must feel right. Some people say descriptive means the name must describe what your business does, so it’s easy for customers to remember it. But we all know there are a ton of companies out there, like Google, Netflix or Nike – and none of these names meant anything to the consumer when these companies were born. There’s of course a lot to it, but making sure that your organization’s name has a back story is important, since the whole branding strategy will be flowing right from the name.
- Available in your domain name extension
Yes, as unfortunate as it is, a domain name availability could sometimes hinder our name options. However, the more creative, unique and descriptive the name is, the easier it will be to find a desired domain name. In a way, if you keep finding out that your name idea has already been taken, you know for sure that the idea was not that unique after all. Keep searching.
Once you have the theory of your future brand in place, and you have the name nailed down, then you can go to your first actual design task in your branding story – logo design. Starting with logo design is ideal, because your logo will set the tone to the whole branding family – typography, visual feel, colours, tone of voice, etc.
You want to ensure you are working with the same company that created your branding strategy – the theory behind the brand – so you keep the momentum going, as you are still discovering your brand’s foundation. You don’t want to have too many cooks in the kitchen. Once your branding foundation is formed and you have a solid brand book / brand guidelines produced, then you will be able to go to any designer for all subsequent branding and marketing materials. But starting the process of branding strategy and identity development from logo to say, website design – is your best bet to stay efficient with your time, AND money. It’s much more cost-effective to produce all brand identity elements under one roof, by the same people, rather than having one design agency working on your logo and then another marketing company working on your web design. By working with the same team from brand discovery to visualizing all concepts in logo design, web design, and marketing collateral – you integrate all pieces to work together, and bounce each other’s energy into one solid piece – your future brand.
Branding strategy is a phenomenal process of discovering a new identity. Like a new person being born into this world – we all have our own character already. With proper nurture, our nature blossoms. Same with brands. It’s a process. Brands don’t become “brands” in a day. But once the right seeds are planted, they sure grow nicely, and get your business growing, too.