When people think about branding, they often think about logos, fonts, colors, and design.
Though these things are part of a brand’s visual identity, they do not constitute the brand itself.
A brand is much more than its logo, the font it uses, or the colors on its creatives.
In this article, we will discuss the four steps necessary to make a successful brand.
The Importance Of A Branding Strategy
These four steps make up a basic branding strategy. Without an overall strategy, you can still design a logo, and launch a line of products, but you are diminishing your chances of success because there is so much more to a brand than a logo and a product.
An overall strategy gives clarity on what is being done, why is it being done, and what the expected result is.
With these assumptions in place, you can then execute a brand launch, or a product campaign, then analyze its performance and then make adjustments to your strategy as required until you achieve your desired results.
1. Defined Target Audience
A successful brand needs to know exactly who its target audience is.
In one way this is about demographics. What is their age, gender, interests, location, and even income.
But in another way, a brand needs to know their target audience on a very intimate level. A good brand will have a clear idea about what its audience is thinking and feeling.
They need to know what their audience aspires to, what they want from life, how they are feeling, and how they want to feel. It even extends to social issues and what things your audience is and is passionate or worried about.
This is critical because different target audiences will have very different aspirations and very different passions and fears. The values and themes that may resonate with one audience, will vary greatly from the values and themes that resonate with another audience.
It can seem unnecessary to go to this level of detail but by doing this work, you have a reference point to refer to when measuring the success, or lack of success, of a brand.
A skilled luxury brand consultant can guide you through this process if you need help.
Based on an in-depth understanding of the target audience a brand can then develop a mission.
This mission sets out the impact the brand wants to have on the world, and it connects directly with the hopes and dreams, and aspirations of its target audience and the impact the brand wants its products (or services) to have.
For example, Rolex, the luxury watch brand, has a mission to “make the planet perpetual”. This is a bold statement about empowering people to explore, over a long time frame, and has very little to do with telling the time, which is the functional purpose of a watch.
3. Visual Identity
With a defined target audience, and a mission to propel the company you can then work on the visual identity of a brand.
Visual identity can include, but is not limited to:
- Brand Colors
- Brand Fonts
- Ad Creatives
The meaning and purpose that you can inject into the visual identity of a brand is so much greater once the work has been done to get clear on the brand’s target audience and mission.
If you jump straight to the visual identity before you have done the work to get clear on your audience and your mission, the visual identity will have a lot less meaning infused in it, and therefore is less likely to connect with your target audience.
With an audience, mission, and visual identity locked in place, a brand can then select and design products that will resonate with its target audience.
When we talk about products in this sense, yes – there will be a practical aspect to the product in some way (whether it be a piece of clothing, a vehicle, or a piece of jewelry), but the product will also solve a psychological problem.
Whether the product helps the consumer feel more confident, more connected to a group, or more elite, will depend on your target audience.
But brands are always providing more than a product. They are providing a feeling and an experience.
Newspapers and magazines are filled with branding failures.
In every case, you can tie the poor brand performance back to a failure of the brand to engage in these critical steps, in this order.
Each of the above steps cannot be completed, without the previous step.
Products will not be associated with your brand without a consistent visual identity.
Your visual identity will not resonate with your target audience unless you have a clearly defined vision.
And you will not be able to develop a compelling mission statement without knowing your target customer inside out.
Though you can jump straight to visual identity and product creation, a failure to complete the preceding steps will be ruinous for your brand, and keep it from achieving its potential success.