I thought I was doing branding already, but I wasn't! I was designing logos and websites for companies but I wasn't offering the full package and the benefits of doing a full strategy for a business. Brand strategy is something else; something so much deeper.
As a creative and a designer I am always trying to develop my skills, whether it’s learning a new design program, reading a book, or finding a new podcast to listen to. I am always trying to up skill and develop my knowledge and understanding. I think it is so important to do this, so that you can keep up with competitors. In this day and age there is a lot of competition out there, from all over the world. While you are sleeping there is someone on the other side of the planet awake, perfecting their skills, making deals, or clinching an awesome contract.
I’m not saying you shouldn't sleep, but using your time productively when you are awake is the key to success. Being motivated during times when clients are not calling, or they are hiding from a pandemic and not wanting to spend a great deal of money, is one way of making the most of quiet times.
I especially love listening to a good podcast, either when I’m working or even when at the gym. Listening to designers, who have been around for years, with their advice and guidance makes the whole uphill struggle of launching and establishing your design studio seem that little bit easier. I first found The Futur podcast on Spotify, which is a fabulous listen. Chris Do is an inspiration, with a large variety of podcasts and interesting articles.
It was through listening to design podcasts that I started to learn about brand strategy and found links to other great designers and brand strategists. I first heard of Marty Neumeier, who is the Godfather of brand strategy and a fascinating man to listen to, when he was featured on a podcast. After ten minutes of listening to him I was hooked. The way he talks about questioning and getting clients to understand their own business on a deeper level meant I could listen to him for hours.
Branding is getting more people to buy more stuff for more years at a higher price.
Why does a company exist beyond making money?
This is the question that Marty Neumeier has at the forefront of his strategy, getting founders to really question why they exist as a business.
In his book Zag, the only book I've read that’s title explains its content, he talks about the main point of brand strategy is to be different from your competition. To Zag when everyone else Zigs. He explains in detail how brands can harness the power of differentiation and use it to position themselves in their chosen field.
Finding your company’s onliness.
Marty Neumeier talks about finding out what it is that you do differently to your competition.
What does your company do that no one else does?
We are the only_____ that _____s!
People generally remember one thing about a company, so it is important that the one thing they remember is your most important fact. Your onliness!
After researching more and more I found that not only was this concept an interesting one, but something that every designer can do, and should do, to upscale their business and more importantly to help them better serve their clients.
I thought I was doing branding already, but I wasn't! I was designing identities, logos and websites for companies, but I wasn't offering the full package and the benefits of doing a full strategy for a business. Brand strategy is something else; something so much deeper.
I have quite a meticulous process when designing logos but with many clients there was still a lot of guesswork as to what they wanted or needed. Trying to show someone what they like is very difficult. The process was often long with a great deal of revisions for me in the design process. Being a lover of designing I don't really mind at all, but I felt I needed to create a better way of getting to that end result, and quicker.
A client doesn't care how many hours it has taken you; they just want the final product they have paid for, and for it to be of the highest quality, created in the shortest time possible. They are paying you to deliver.
Brand strategy not only makes the back and forth process of creating and designing a brand identity for a company easier, but it helps them to understand who they are. It's a sort of brand therapy that helps all parties in the creation of a brand strategy.
When strategising a brand, you can work with the client in a workshop or remotely (like in the current climate) and really sit down and talk it through with them.
Talk to them about who they are as a brand
- Why do they exist?
- Who are their customers and what do they want?
- How are they going to be different and stand out from their competition?
- How are they going to get in front of clients, into their homes, and get them talking about their product or services?
By the end of the process you will have decided together what the brand is and this gives a sense of ownership to all parties. Plus, if you have done it correctly, it will make your job of going away and creating the identity, style guides, and touch points so much easier.
Your brand is not what you say it is, but what other people think it is. It is how you are remembered and perceived by the public.
Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.
In my next blog post I am going to give you a glimpse into my own brand strategy workshop.
Thanks for reading.