By: Thomas Schertzer
BRAND BUILDING 101:
HOW TO DEVELOP A MEMORABLE BRAND IDENTITY AND MESSAGE
When building a new brand, or updating an existing one into a new era, you should follow a proven path to deliver a clear, modern, and unique message and identity to the marketplace. First, we believe at VIBRANT that your brand needs to be rooted in a human value that will resonate with your current clients (if applicable), prospective clients, and employees. Each of these stakeholders will interpret your brand differently, so the foundation of your brand building must begin with creating a clear and identifiable ideal.
Ideals are the overarching ‘why’ and could be focused on eliciting joy, inspiring exploration or impacting society, just to name a few.
For us at VIBRANT, our North Star is ‘We Create Meaningful Relationships Between Brands and People’ and this ideal is centered in the enabling connections ideal. We developed this ideal because we aim to be a business enabler for our clients, where we can come to the table as a partner who can help scale and commercialize our clients’ products to new locations, demographics, or entirely new channels. This implements our vision of supporting our clients’ commercial efforts.
In this article, we will touch on a 5-step process to develop and
communicate brands to ensure the desired result, market success.
- Root your brand in a fundamental human value. Identify it.
- Communicate your ideal to both internal and external audiences. Announce it.
- Build your internal culture around your brand ideal. Embrace it.
- Develop a clear brand identity that is immediately recognizable. Design it.
- Evaluate your company’s progress and people against your ideal. Perfect it.
STEP 1: Root your brand in a
fundamental human value. Identify it.
It is widely believed that brands that capture human value at the core of their business outperform their competitors. This is because the customer (or consumer) of the product believes that the company is in the business of not just capitalism but of something bigger, something that will positively impact society. In turn, their hard-earned money is not just going to fund corporate greed but supporting community improvement.
An example of this is Patagonia, whose founder, Yvon Chouinard, has always put his brand ideal at the core of business decision-making, which is to ‘protect our home planet’. Patagonia’s goal is to “make products that give back to the Earth as much as they take”. This means that the next time someone purchases their iconic down sweater, the company is reinvesting those funds into ensuring that we have a healthy planet in the long term and not just short-term financial gain for shareholders.
Patagonia’s brand ideal is clearly centered on positively impacting society.
Step 2: Communicate your ideal to both internal and external audiences. Announce it.
Now, we embark on one of the most critical parts of the brand-building process, sharing this vision with the broader internal team as well as your external client/customer partners. This could range from communication to a multi-disciplinary team in a small business setting to a rebranding of a Fortune 500 company, with an impact on shareholders and the broader stock market.
The one item that remains the same is the reasoning behind this message, the conviction in communication and the long-term strategy that will be in place to ensure that this brand ideal will remain the North Star long after the excitement of the announcement has faded away.
For internal employees, communicating your reason for existing will allow for everyone to create their motivation for wanting to show up to work excited each day and achieve greatness as a team. For current and prospective client partners or customers, this will show that as an organization, you stand for something much more than the sum of your sales and will fight to continue to bring your brand ideal to life, now and in the future. By partnering with your company, they are, in turn, supporting this ideal and being a positive change maker.
Performance, both of associates and executives, must be measured on this to achieve buy-in from all levels of the organization. Talk the talk and walk the walk.
Step 3: Build your internal culture around your brand ideal. Embrace it.
Once you have a strong human value identification, it is now time for you to implement this in your organization. From leadership to day-to-day operations, the brand ideal will transcend your organization and, if done properly, will be your North Star that all stakeholders look to measure success.
For VIBRANT, creativity, passion, collaboration, and optimism are our supporting values that lead to creating meaningful connections. During our performance reviews and other professional development conversations, our staff are evaluated on how they embody these values daily in internal and external conversations.
We believe optimism isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ trait but something that separates our leaders and how we approach business challenges and opportunities. Many of our team at VIBRANT have been offered expanded roles due to this character, displaying that we evaluate our team members against our brand ideal and shared values.
Step 4: Develop a clear brand identity (logo) that is immediately recognizable. Design it.
Now enters the “fun” part! Bringing in the creative team into the conversation to develop a striking visual identity that will set your brand out in the marketplace.
Plenty of research will need to be conducted to understand the market, key competitors, their offerings, their visual identities and what are their brand ideals (if any). Once the brand strategy is set, the creative team can bring this vision to life in a succinct way.
Simplistic in nature is always a fundamental design principle as you want to ensure any logo is instantly recognizable from people of all walks of life, ages, backgrounds, and knowledge levels.
Think of some of the most iconic brands in the world. Very few of them are complicated.
Step 5: Evaluate your company’s progress and people against your ideal. Perfect it.
The final step in our process is to continue to bring the brand ideal up in conversations on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis to ensure that the VIBRANT brand ideal is continuously followed.
We measure our success based on how we still ‘creating meaningful relationships between brands and people’ and whether all of us in the organization come to work each day with optimism, collaboration, creativity, and passion.
If we are entering into a new business avenue, we will evaluate this opportunity against our brand ideal and ask ourselves tough questions to ensure that we are headed in the right direction. Looking with a long-term focus will allow the leadership team at VIBRANT to ensure that our company’s evolution aligns with the original brand ideal.