Our branding ProcessIn 6 simple - but not necessarily easy - steps
We are natie
There are steps.
There's a methodology.
We’ve worked with a lot of companies and a lot of brands. Our experience with a very wide variety of clients, from small startups to world-famous global corporations, has enabled us to break the branding process down into six simple steps.
Going through each of these steps thoroughly and frankly with us assures that your brand will be relevant to your customers and true to who you are and what you’re all about.
This is where it all starts.
We meet with all your key stakeholders and get their perspectives on a series of exploratory questions: what is your company’s reason for being? What do you do well? What do you do not so well? What’s your one-year plan? Five-year? Ten-year? What are your main products or services? What makes them different – better or worse than your competitors’? Do you have a rational appeal or an emotional one? And those are just the beginning.
Each of the steps in our branding process provides a foundation on which the next one is built, so this first one supports everything. It’s essential to get it right, and in our experience, this means being vigilant about two things: taking enough time and being brutally honest. Invariably, the people we speak to at your company will be very busy and there will be a tendency to squeeze this into their schedule or question its value altogether. (“Don’t we all already know this? Is this really that important?”) Suffice it to say the work that comes out of it will only be as good as the effort that goes into the entire process. And we can’t promote your brand’s strengths without keenly understanding its weaknesses, too, so frankness in that regard is absolutely vital.
By the time this part of the process is complete (which can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months depending on the size of the organization and the number of people to be interviewed), we know you as well as you know yourself – and maybe even better in the case of companies whose main players aren’t all on the same page.
Not every business we work with needs name ideas for a product, division or line extension – or even for the company name itself – but many do. And nearly all of them need a tagline. Let’s talk about both.
By the time we’re done with the Strategy step, we know a lot about what your company is like as well as the industry in which you work. And we’re ready to harness that knowledge to generate names if you need one. Our name ideas will be informed both by your company’s overall personality and what will be differentiating and memorable for your customers…what will help you stand out. And yes, we said we’ll generate names, plural. A name is a very personal thing, so we will give you enough options to ensure that you see one you like. And the ones we present to you will be culled down from many, many more that didn’t make our cut.
The same insight into your company that we bring to a naming project will be applied to tagline concepting as well.
This short, pithy phrase has to summarize your company and what it does in a way that feels right for who you are and what you stand for. Done well, they seem easy, almost offhand, but they are anything but. The same thing we said about names is true of tag lines as well: we come up with a ton of them, show you the best and see if you like any. And while we will have a strong point of view and will make a recommendation, if you don’t see one you like, we’ll go back to the drawing board.
This step is called a manifesto instead of something like “corporate philosophy” for a reason. It’s not a clinical expression of goals or a lifeless summary of market opportunities; your manifesto is your passion.
It’s your credo.
It’s why you go to work every day – what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to do it. It’s not the battle plan; it’s the motivational speech you give the troops as they are about to go into battle. Usually about a page in length (often shorter and only very rarely longer), your manifesto is the distillation of all those interviews we conducted at the start of this process. But it’s no catchall – quite the opposite. The manifesto strips away the extraneous, the irrelevant and the superficial so that what is left is the core truth of your company. What you stand for. And often, what you stand against.
Your manifesto is the flag you plunge into the earth while daring anyone to try to pull it out. It’s the claim that you stake – the claim that only you can stake.
Your logo may be the single most visible piece of creative work to come out of this process as far as your customers and prospects are concerned.
To the average consumer, your logo is your brand. That’s how important it is. So we make sure it gets all the attention it deserves, and then some. Keep in mind that your logo isn’t just a mark; your logo is also a typeface (sometimes it’s nothing more than a typeface) and a particular combination of colors. All of these elements are considered individually as well as in combination with each other to arrive at precisely the right logo for your company.
Your company is unique, and your logo has to strive to capture your uniqueness. It should be memorable, simple, clear and relevant. It should be considered at business card and billboard sizes. In black and white and in color. On your packages, on your door, on t-shirts. You should consider how it will look and what it will say every place it might conceivably appear before you fall in love with it. Because that’s how this has to end. You have to love your logo, because you’re going to be seeing it in a lot of places.
And we won’t stop until you do.
Now that we’ve settled on the right tagline and logo, it’s time to start applying it to the many things you will have to put it on. The logo is the anchor for your visual identity and lots of beautiful things will come from it.
At first it might just seem like business cards and letterhead, but when you think about it, your visual identity will potentially appear in a staggering variety of environments and contexts. How it appears in a presentation might be different than in a sales sheet. So we always suggest you get the brand book. That’s basically the rulebook. It highlights what’s okay and what isn’t. For example, can the logo and tagline appear next to each other, or must they always be stacked? How much white space has to be left around them? Can they be reversed out of black?
Your visual identity has to be consistent, so the people you entrust it with have to know what is allowed and what is forbidden, and they have to follow those rules religiously. Consumers have to experience your brand the same way every time they see it, and it’s up to you and your marketing department to decide how that will be. And once you have the rules in place to ensure this is the case, enforce them ruthlessly. Especially for younger and lesser known companies, there is simply no justification for being lax about enforcing brand standards.
Consistency is the name of the game once you’ve got your brand spankin’ new brand.