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7 steps of strategic branding for creating a successful brand

Branding is one of the core businesses and the strongest competencies of our agency. Here, by branding, we refer to the process of creating the basic, essential elements of the brand, meaning the logo, icon, color palette, fonts, and graphic motif and also its extension in brand identity, such as stationary, business cards, letterhead, envelope, marketing collaterals, packaging, website, app, social media profile, header, advertisement, shop interior, etc. Here at bcbrandesign, we have a systematic approach when we do branding and rebranding projects. This is how our agency does branding projects.  Strategic-Branding-Modules_Strategic-Branding_bcbrandesign

1. Research and Analysis

This is the first step starting of work after the proper briefing and understanding of the project scope, deliverables, and expectations.  We will gather sufficient related information to immerse deep into the brand's current situation and looking at the industry, the market, the competitor and most importantly, its consumers. Only when we fully understand where the brand stands, its audience, competitors and environment, we can then analyze and work on the 3 brand strategies. This step of preparation is essential in setting the right direction for all the steps that follow.

2. Set the brand keystones

After the refining and settling the brand strategies together with you the client, depending on the project scope, we will start with the strategy if the scope of work includes this part or start directly with the designing process directly. In a full branding development process, in the second step, we will start to set the keystones of the brand. How do we do it? Here we have a unique approach to help us with this step. Here we have some key questions to answer, which will lead us to set the brand purpose, brand vision, and brand mission. Setting-the-Brand-Keystones_Strategic-Branding_bcbrandesign Starting from the core of the brand, we need to settle the brand purpose, which is, "Why the company/brand exists? Values and beliefs that inspire you to make a difference." Sometimes from the answer, we can develop it into the brand's tagline, slogan, or UVP. After understanding the Why, we can then think about the How: "What do you want to be? How the world will be a better place with your brand?". By answering this question, we are getting close to refining the brand vision. This is then carefully refined and developed into the Vision Statement, which is an important statement when communicating the company or the brand's core value to its stakeholders, both internal management, employees, and externally to the consumers, investors, and media. At the most outer layer, we are trying to define the brand mission and refine the Mission Statment by answering "What does the brand want to do for its target consumers, or to all people in general? What value your brand brings to the world?". This would be the company or the brand's main goal or target in the long run. They are the principles that will guide all the decisions of the company, as well as the whole branding process here.

"Companies that have strong brand loyalty usually are very clear, and consistent when answering these three main questions and in the consumers' minds, they have a good impression of being authentic, trustworthy, and reliable."

3. Build the brand framework

Having all the information in place, we can then fill them in the brand framework. Here we have a structure similar to a house. On the top, we have the brand vision, as the head of the arrow, leading the brand forward. In the main center part, we have 3 main aspects of the brand. Its "Emotional Standpoint", the emotion the brand brings forth that connects and communicates with the people; the "Inspirational Value & Tagline", under the emotional standpoint, what values and aspiration the brand inspires the customers and consumers, it can also be the tagline itself that inspires; and the "Product & Brand Truths", which illustrate the USP, and the characteristic of the brand. On the left column, we have the market aspect, here we are considering the "Industry Insight", what new value the brand can bring to this industry or this category in the current market; and the "Competitive Environment", how the brand can succeed in its competitive environment. On the right-hand side, we are looking at the people aspect, what "human and cultural context" there is, who is the brand's "Target Customers" and what are their characteristics. At the bottom as the foundation that supports the house, we have the brand's ambitions in the business and brand aspects. What are the brand's business and brand goals in the near or long-term future? On the outer side, we have the brand's "Archetype", "Personality and Character". Think of the brand as a person, what character it has, how is it like as a person. While on the right side, we have the keyword summary of the "Brand Identity System": what is the color, what is the main impression it brings, is there any icon or graphic motif? Build-the-brand-framework_Strategic-Branding_bcbrandesign

4. Design Principles

Based on all the steps and key messages we developed above, we can define in bullet points, what are the rules and principles we can follow throughout the branding design process. Here we can take a close look at the brand's personality, the brand voice, and set the standards. These principles can really help guide decisions when there are doubts during the branding proposal selection. It is like developing a film character, from describing his/her personality, values, we can them go on the describe his/her appearance, which is the brand identity.

5. Identity Basics

Here we are finally going to develop the key deliverables of the branding design: brand naming, logo, icon or graphic motif, brand elements, color palette, fonts. Most people think the branding is only all about this part and many companies will skip all the steps above and only work on getting a logo designed, sometimes by an automatic "AI" generated logo, which is basically your company name on a template that has been used by millions of other company. Next time before going to these free logo maker, I want you to just pause and think, which one of your favorite and successful brands has their logo done with a logo maker even at their startup phase? Apple? Google? Amazon? Or Nike? It is obvious that successful brands not merely have their success based on their logos, but a perfectly designed logo that advocate for the brand and connects with their audience deeply, is surely a fundamental that all the successful brands have. At this step, we will develop the brand identity basics from all the information we have in the previous steps. The outcome of the brand identity basics is really the core elements of the brand. The brand's name, logo design, icons, graphic motif, and brand elements (if there is any), the brand's primary and secondary color palettes, typography. Along with these outcomes, we usually have a brand guideline, also known as brand book or brand manual, that helps guide the company and external stakeholders to use the brand elements and identity properly.

6. Identity System

Depending on the type of company and their businesses, we then develop different elements as part of the brand identity or visual identity system. The most common assets in this part include business cards, letterheads and envelopes, and other branded stationery, corporate email signatures, Facebook cover, YouTube cover, other social media profiles, and covers, signages, packaging designs, store interiors, branded vehicles, branded equipment, etc. This part of brand identity system assets is relatively more permanent compared to the next part of promotional materials which is more seasonal and temporary.

7. Extensions

In extension to the brand identity system, the company will have promotional materials, seasonal and occasional branded contents for marketing use. Photographic and video advertisements, outdoor advertising, advertisement posters, print ads, magazine ads, billboard advertising, TV commercials, ad campaigns, online advertising, banner ads, display ads, social media advertisements, Facebook adverts, Instagram ads, youtube ads, etc. To makes sure all materials and all messages the brand put out always speak for the brand, no matter is communication internally inside the company or externally to the audience, we must be careful to maintain and protect the brand value in every execution. Always follow the guidelines, standards, and all outcomes we have produced above, stay consistent, stay genuine. Over time, along with an outstanding and memorable brand identity created by a professional branding agency; excellent products, services, and customer experience; and strongly consistent and authentic messages, the brand will then build up brand awareness and customer loyalty. And that is how you can build a successful brand.