Managing the branding process

In our experience working on branding projects there is often a focus on what we call brand with a capital B. rather than any any particular thinking around the basics of a brand building strategy.

What we mean by this is a tendency to pay an awful lot of attention to the less tangible brand ‘assets’, like purpose, values and behaviours that its very difficult to truly affect and very hard to action for or against. You almost see this mystical creative thinking process taking place amongst the ‘consultants’, invoking the branding dark arts which many clients often don’t feel entitled or comfortable to participate in. Conversely, we often have conversations with marketing and comms teams who are busy writing their corporate missions and visions – without any reference or recourse to the board, C-suite or business planning planning process.

And often either of these scenarios are accompanied by a focus on things like visual systems, channel management strategies and the classic, ‘we need a social media plan’, which are all important but are in pretty much every case, the tail wagging the dog.

How design agencies manage the branding process

What we do is different. Two things. We always start with the customer. The customer is the main noun of all of the discussions we want to have about a brand and we need that customer focus to translate to business strategy and then to brand strategy. The rest then naturally follows. And the expertise in the room, the expertise that’s driving the brand strategy, to be expertise that is driven by business objectives and not by mystical branding assets, designed identities or tactical marketing.

After that the basics; we always try to agree the metrics that we can see, measure, affect and improve – what are we trying to influence and how can we ensure we know if we are. And we make a conscious effort to set up as transparent a process as possible – a process which is both creative and analytical because both are essential and which uses a language everyone can understand and be comfortable with.