Good (and bad) brands aren’t built in a day. Lots of decisions go into crafting your brand, some that are more important than others, but establishing a brand that can motivate, inspire and even move (product) mountains is crucial to your success. Starting a brand or rebranding is not for the faint of heart and will take a lot of sweat equity, but in the end if your brand isn’t making powerful and emotional connections or sound foundational brand choices, you’ll find your customer cohort is chock full of one-time purchasers. Whether you are a start-up, established brand or something in between, this is a quick start guide to creating (or refreshing) your brand architecture.
Find your visual identity
A brand is more than just your visual identity. Visual assets, such as your logo are your unique design that make you you and are important to your brand because they are the things that people use to identify you visually when seeing your website, marketing collateral or business cards. It’s how your brand looks, and that look often conveys feelings and sets a tone for how you’ll communicate with your audience and hopefully the scores of other people looking at you (the press, current clients or customers and probably your mom). But even before you make decisions about how a designer will masterfully bring to life your brand on a webpage, from brand bible to design comp, you have to have a solid brand foundation and architecture. And that starts with your brand attributes.
This is the what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. It’s what truly makes you unique and to really stand out you have to nail your brand attributes. Brand attributes, in the simplest terms, are just a set of words that define the personality and character of your brand. You leverage these brand attributes in just about every facet of your brand, from your internal culture and brand positioning statement to the content on your site to the ads you place in print and online. These core attributes even filter into your culture and define how every single person in your organization works with each other, vendors and clients and customers.
So how do you, no matter where you are in the organization, begin the hard work to define your brand attributes?
Define your brand attributes
At Acumium we lead a series of brand workshops for our clients, from startups to mature companies, to facilitate and arrive at these artfully crafted attributes. Lots of companies do this on their own as well, usually predicated by an event (such as a rebrand, culture shift or major company pivot). Pixar for example, builds a set of brand attributes for each film they make and build war rooms over a period of years, constantly iterating and implementing using agile movements to ensure the brand of each picture is met. For our own internal brand attribute reset, it took us several workshops (internal and external) over several months to get the information we needed. However you do it, the important thing is that you do so, so your entire team, no matter the function, has a common language with which to speak about your brand.
Before we involve our brand stakeholders, we usually facilitate a series of customer interviews, where we’ll ask core things like, why did you decide to work with brand A? What are words that come to mind when you work with brand A? What do you hate about working with brand A? Structure your interviews and customer surveys to allow people to answer some of the same questions you’re asking yourself. Identify the key reasons you were selected over a competitor and how you’ve failed and succeeded in the eyes of your customer. You’ll walk away with a treasure trove of insights to leverage in your content, influence your product roadmap or even identify some common themes, good and bad. There’s something really powerful when you use the same words, feelings and emotions that your customer uses to describe you in your marketing and sales language.
It's important to have one key person that is hearing these interviews or capturing notes, that is also involved in other parts of the process, to theme out what you’re hearing. Keep it high-level, especially for the C-suite. Make sure you’re pulling together all those top-level insights and capturing them for those that aren’t present for those aha moments.
Conduct internal discussions
Start with something simple; a conversation. Get all your stakeholders in a room for a facilitated discussion about why you exist as a company and what makes you unique.
Coming out of these meetings, you’ve just laid the groundwork for your brand attributes and your brand framework. This is just the beginning of a lengthy process. From here, your brand attributes will impact your logo design, tone of voice, marketing collateral and everything in between. You’re setting the stage for everything that comes next and ensuring your brand speaks to the core values of your business.
Ready to take the next step in your branding journey? Branding is our business at Acumium. Connect with our team if you’re interested in discussing it further.